More Please!

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Here are some of the 351 children we’ve been supporting. They are living in pitiful conditions in a camp for displaced people in Burundi. The highlight of their day is the arrival of milk. Each day at around 10am, each child receives a cup of freshly pasteurised milk, supplied by the Milk for Transformation enterprise. This is no luxury but a vital source of nutrition which, without a doubt, is helping to prevent malnutrition.

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There are over 250 families living in the camp and many of those have now been displaced for over 10 years. That’s 10 years of ‘existing’, of trying to survive, entrenched in poverty, robbed of dignity and with very little hope of anything ever changing. Through no fault of their own, these families haven’t had the means and opportunity to sustain themselves. They have been trying to fend for themselves but with virtually no assistance or support from anyone.  They have even become known locally as ‘the forgotten people’.

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Hope for Tomorrow Global first became involved in 2014 following a natural disaster, when severe flooding hit the city of Bujumbura, close to Lake Tanganyika. We’d heard how over 800 people had moved to a small piece of land on the outskirts of the city after they had lost their make-shift homes by the lake. We went to visit and were shocked and appalled by the conditions the families were living in.

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We immediately responded by joining with churches from the Regions Beyond network by sending food to the camp and launching a crisis appeal to provide ongoing support, but the living conditions remained atrocious. After some months, the Red Cross provided some large dormitory-style tents, which brought some improvement,  but in Burundi’s heat and tropical storms, they soon began to disintegrate. Now there are tents within tents as the families have sought to at least keep dry in the torrential rain.

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Other families are once living again in shelters built from whatever they could find; bits of cloth, cardboard, plastic and even straw. There is just one water tap for the whole camp and only 5 ‘long-drop’ toilets. Imagine what it must be like living here, day in, day out.

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We long to see these families have hope again for the future. We are committed to helping them see their dreams come true so they can leave this make-shift community and get homes of their own, but first they will need an income so they can sustain themselves. In the current climate, in the midst of the crisis in Burundi with great instability and insecurity and a collapsing economy, this is not as simple as it sounds.  Burundi is one of the poorest nations in the world and our new friends here are among the poorest of the poor. Right now, they need our love and support.

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Until such a time as our friends are able to leave the camp and rebuild their lives, we want to do all we can to ensure we help them have life inside the camp; quite literally, life! Of course, the first priority is food. The reality is, without help to get it, they could die. Tragically, some already have.

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Regions Beyond churches have continued to generously provide food. Every 4 – 6 weeks for the past 2 years a sack of maize and a bag of beans has been provided for every family, which is incredible. However, this only provides one meal a day, and for the children especially, it’s not enough to provide the nutrition needed for healthy growth and development.

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Last year, I visited our friends with Evariste, who leads the Milk for Transformation enterprise. We were utterly shocked as we gathered the children and asked their ages. The growth of many had clearly been stunted – we were told by the camp leader that the boy on the left below (with the blue cup) was 14 years old. He’s been displaced for 10 years surviving on a very poor and meagre diet. Many children were unwell and there were other clear signs of malnutrition such as thinning, orangey coloured hair, pot bellies and skin diseases. Evariste made the decision there and then to make his milk available so that every day each child would receive ½ a litre of fresh, full fat, highly nutritious milk.  This was not without risk and challenges but he did it anyway. (See Keeping the Milk Flowing)

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One year on, I’m just back from visiting our friends again. I’m delighted to report that I have seen for myself the huge difference this daily supply of milk has made to the children.  They look so much healthier, are clearly better nourished and have lots of energy! Thank you to all our supporters who donated so generously so that we could contribute towards the cost of supplying the milk each day.

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We are now at a point where we are asking for ‘More Please!’ Without the funds to buy the milk each day, this life-changing provision will have to stop. Of course, none of us want to see that happen.

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Please help! We need just £10 a month, per child, to continue to provide a daily cup of milk. That’s just £10 to prevent stunted growth, malnutrition and all the health-related and developmental issues that come with it. These children deserve better. We believe there is a better future for the children and their families out of the camp, but until that day, please help, please donate to give life. Thank you!

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Odette’s Story – A Story of Hope

An update on our Burundi Crisis Appeal.

I am always amazed and inspired by our Burundian friends. They show such courage and resilience in the midst of such extreme challenges and hardships. One such example is our beautiful friend, Odette. I first met Odette in 2014, in a camp where she’d been placed following a dreadful natural disaster which destroyed her community.

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Over 100 people were killed in the disaster and thousands had lost their homes and livelihoods. For one of the poorest communities, in one of the world’s poorest nations, it was totally devastating.  However, for Odette, already a widow, it was especially tragic. She lost 5 of her 6 children in the flooding when her simple mud house was destroyed by the torrents of water, boulders and mud which cascaded through her community in the middle of the night.

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I will never forget the haunting image I have in my mind of the emptiness, the hopelessness and the grief in Odette’s eyes that day; of her standing there traumatised with her one remaining daughter, Vanessa, by her side looking so lost, so alone and so afraid. How is anyone ever able to come to terms with such trauma and loss?

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I was there with a small film crew to see how we could help.  We wanted to make a short video to try and communicate what had happened. Odette shared her horrendous story with us. It was utterly overwhelming.  We then tentatively asked Odette what she hoped for when she thought of the future. In some ways this felt the most ridiculous and insensitive of questions, but she gently replied, telling us she simply wanted a safe place for her and Vanessa to live, out of the camp. She told us how she wanted to start up her business again and that she wanted to able able to send Vanessa to school. These were such basic dreams and yet she had no means of ever seeing them happen. She had nothing and no-one. The tears rolled down her cheeks. I forgot about the filming and just hugged her and silently prayed.

Overwhelmed by her desperate circumstances, we asked Odette what her business had been and she had told us it was selling tomatoes and cabbages. She needed just £30 to start it up again. To rent a small house for her and Vanessa would be around £50 a month. Just £80 was all that was needed for them to take a step towards rebuilding their destroyed lives – such a small amount, yet it would make such a difference.

Very quickly, Hope for Tomorrow Global joined with the Regions Beyond group of churches and launched a crisis appeal to provide emergency food supplies, medical care and assistance for renting homes to those who were homeless. Wherever possible, funds were also given to help families start up businesses, or replace those washed away by the floodwaters.  Of course, the very first person we helped was Odette! Within 2 weeks she and Vanessa were out of the camp.

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Three months later I returned and had the privilege of visiting Odette and Vanessa in their new home. Odette proudly showed me her mattress on the floor where she and Vanessa slept and a cooking pot and two plates laid out on the ground. She was smiling and Vanessa was chuckling away! The grief was still tangible and the journey ahead was clearly a long and painful one, but she told me that day, “I have hope again!” Vanessa was in school and they were looking forward. There was life in their eyes again.

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Within a year of the disaster, thanks to the support and generosity of all those who gave in the aftermath of the disaster all 120 families from Odette’s area who we’d assessed as being the most vulnerable and in need of support were in safe accommodation and able to provide for themselves again.

Sometimes people tell me we can’t make a difference. They tell me the needs are too great and the problems too big. They tell me there is no point. I beg to differ!  Few of us will ever go through what Odette has gone through, but she has hope; hope for today and hope for tomorrow. We can make a difference and that is why we do what we do. There is a point – transformation starts with the one!

Let’s not stop, let’s continue to show compassion and be generous and help those who need it the most to have hope for tomorrow!

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Burundi Crisis Appeal

Hope for Tomorrow Global-.odette and vanessa in campHope for Tomorrow Global has been supporting the work of churches in the Regions Beyond family, part of Newfrontiers, in the wake of the horrendous flooding and landslides which devastated several communities in Feb 2014. You can read our earlier report here.

Since then a Crisis Appeal has been launched and many have given generously to help rehouse families who’d lost everything plus provide funds to help people back into work and business,  to pay medical bills and cover school fees until families can sustain themselves again. To view the appeal video please click here.

The work is ongoing; this is a long term initiative and we are committed to seeing the communities we’re working in transformed and to seeing lives change as hope is restored.

In time, once the land has stabilised, we aim to rebuild houses for families. For now they remain in rented accommodation but this is at least a big step up from the tents they were surviving in some months back.

Thank you for all your support!

If you would like to give, please donate here. 

Thank you!

Update Following the Recent Flooding in Bujumbura

Donna Bloomfield brings a report of the situation in Bujumbura, following extensive flooding which took place at the beginning of February.

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I’ve just returned from Burundi, one of the world’s poorest nations where Hope for Tomorrow Global in helping bring hope and transformation. I’m there often, but this visit was not like any other.

Overnight on February 9th, Bujumbura, the capital city of Burundi, was hit by 10 hours of torrential rain, resulting in horrendous flooding, landslides and mudslides. Over one hundred lives were lost that night and many hundreds more were injured – people were trapped in houses that collapsed on them, others were swept away in flood waters, many were engulfed in mud.

Huge boulders and rocks were swept down from the surrounding hills by torrents of water, carving up roads and fields, changing the landscape and destroying everything in their path. In places the scene felt almost apocalyptic, with whole areas flattened, apart from the odd remaining tree, damaged and bent over, rubbish and bits of clothing left strewn over it.

Over 1,800 homes have been totally destroyed, leaving well over 12,000 lives displaced, forced to ‘live’ in tented camps. Some are sheltering in church buildings or have moved to be with friends and relatives. Others who don’t have these options are trying to survive in shelters made from whatever can be found: branches, straw, cardboard and bits of plastic sheeting.

With our Burundian friend Evariste, I visited one of the worst affected areas, Kamenge. We spent some time in the community visiting some of the families who’d chosen to remain there, rather than being moved to one of the Red Cross camps nearby. It was a heart-wrenching visit.

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Some of the devastation caused by flood waters

Within minutes, as we talked to a group of ladies, we were told of an especially tragic story of a neighbour – all five of this lady’s children had died when their bedroom collapsed on them. How can you comprehend such loss, so sudden, so unexpected, so tragic?

As we walked on, we were shown the remains of homes – or, often no remains, just empty spaces where houses used to be. In one place, Evariste pointed to a single mud-brick wall, the only part left standing of a family’s home. On top of the wall, hanging over the corner, filthy from the mud, was a piece of child’s clothing. “Two people died here,” he told me.

A few children left in the area began to follow us around asking us for food, telling us they were hungry, as they’d not eaten in days. Others asked us to help them continue their studies as the local school has been destroyed by the rocks and floods. Some asked for work as livelihoods have been lost also. Many asked for nothing at all, but you could see the desperation in their eyes – they seemed empty, still in shock, some clearly still traumatised. A sense of helplessness and hopelessness hung in the air.

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Bringing Hope

It’s wonderful to be able to report that recently, thanks to generosity of Hope for Tomorrow Global supporters, and together with the people of Gateway Church Swindon, we have so far been able to send over £10,000 to help buy food for the most vulnerable in this community and others nearby. In some ways it’s a drop in the vast ocean of need, but to the 2,000 people who have received food so far, it’s no small thing. Over 30 tonnes of have been distributed to date.

Meanwhile, plans are being made to help support this community in Kamenge in the months and years ahead. There is ‘hope for tomorrow’ for our new friends and we want to stand with them and demonstrate the love of God to them by supporting them practically as they seek to help them rebuild not just their homes, but their lives.

Food is distributed at the camps

If you’d like to be involved, please sign up to receive our newsletter so you’ll be among the first to hear how you can make a difference. Thank you!

To support our friends in Burundi through Hope for Tomorrow Global and help with the rebuilding of homes and lives please donate now. Thank you.

Urgent News – Many Killed in Burundi Floods

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We are just receiving news of severe flooding in Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital city. Many have been killed and many more are feared to be trapped under collapsed buildings. 

For more information please see: BBC News report

We are in touch with Evariste, who we are working with, to find out how best we can best respond to help and support those in crisis. We will update you as soon as we can. In the meantime, if you would like to donate to help those affected by the floods please click HERE.

 

Thank you.