Burundi: Pélagie Nduwayo-Ndikuriyo

Nous sommes qui nous sommes grâce à elle – We are who we are, thanks to her.’’ A student, adopted by Pélagie.

— Pélagie Nduwayo-Ndikuriyo

Pélagie Nduwayo-Ndikuriyo works with women, students, girls and the disabled. She supports disadvantaged people in different ways with the aim of reducing poverty. She offers sewing courses for women and girls, provides seeds to ensure the survival of families, and pays for children to receive an education. She works with people of different ethnic groups.

In a refugee camp, she once met a woman who owned nothing except a paigne, the brightly colored piece of cloth that is commonly worn in Africa, wrapped around the waist. The woman had her menstruation and was crouched in a corner. Without a change of clothes or another piece of cloth, she was messed up and could not move from that spot. Uprooted from her relatively sheltered life as a Tutsi and wife of a former Burundi prime minister, Pélagie Nduwayo began to support individual women in the camp by distributing clothes, food and sometimes also money. This was at first merely a drop in the ocean, but eventually picked momentum. The women organized themselves into a group as they realized that this help might one day cease. So they asked Pélagie Nduwayo to assist them to become self-reliant. Younger women make sweet fried pastries for sale at the markets and on the streets of Bujumbura, and widows weave cloth in their own workshop. Orphans go to school, through the assistance of Solidarité pour Aider les Sinisterés Burundais (Sasb), which pays their fees. Girls now sew and organize fashion shows in the organization’s foyer. Meetings are also held at the organization’s office with donors, to discuss the positive outcomes of Pélagie's work. She insures that people get a meal and has adopted a boy from the rural area and cares for him as if he was her own son. The people honor her in song and pray for the continued success of her work. The students’ spokesman, who was adopted and is still under her care since the war, sums up the aspirations of all: "Nous sommes qui nous sommes grâce à elle.” Meaning, “We are who we are, thanks to her."

Solidarité pour Aider les Sinisterés Burundais (Sasb)