Reuniting Families and Children: Peace's Story
Peace*, 13, RWANDA
Save the Children does whatever it takes to protect children from harm. In Mahama Camp, Save the Children has provided child protection interventions and case management including family tracing and reunification for children at risk since 2015. As the voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees continues, Save the Children has intensified its efforts and reunited 115 children in and outside the country.
Peace*, 13, is one of the children that Save the Children has helped through family tracing and reunification. Though Peace is not a Burundian refugee, as a child in Mahama Camp, she should still feel safe and protected.
In 2016, Peace’s mother and father died and left her with her grandmother in Nyanza District. After a year, Peace’s half-sister, who was married to a Burundian man in Mahama Camp, took her from Southern Province to live in Kirehe District. Peace was not registered with UNHCR as a refugee, so it was difficult for her to get support from humanitarian agencies working in the area, including for education and other types of assistance. Committed to all children regardless of their status, Save the Children supported Peace to find health care services and other essential non-food items.
Save the Children, in collaboration with the National Council for Children (NCC) in Nyanza District, made it possible for Peace to reunite with her grandma and 7-year-old brother. After an 8-hour drive traveling 200 km from Mahama Camp to Kibirizi Sector, Nyanza District, Save the Children reunited Peace with her grandmother, Epiphanie, 65, on December 7th, 2020.
Epiphanie, smiling and hugging her granddaughter, said, “I’m truly happy to find my grandchild again.” “I have been sitting here and wondering, am I really going to die without seeing my granddaughter again?” the 65-year-old confessed.
The entire family was excited to welcome Peace back. After three years of separation, Peace reacclimated to her home quickly. By the time Save the Children departed, Peace was already peeling bananas.
“I’m happy to meet my Granny again. I thank Save the Children for all the support to make it possible to reunite with my grandmother. I’m happy,” revealed Peace, while sitting with other family members. “I missed my brother. I missed my friends here and I missed my Grandma too,” she added.
“I’m making sure my child goes to school. I will do whatever possible to find books and clothes for her, so that in January, she will go to school,” Epiphanie promised.
Since 2015, Save the Children has strived to protect and keep safe more than 31,000 children in Mahama Camp. In collaboration with UNHCR and MINEMA, Save the Children supported family reunification of children and their families in Burundi and Rwanda.