Our mission is to support the Orphanage of Hearts in becoming a self sustaining community. In the short term we aim to raise as much money as possible to help meet their costs and debts.
In the medium term we aim to support their plans for starting small businesses to generate income for themselves, whilst continuing to help with their immediate needs and those of the local street children
Our long term goal is for them to become completely self sustaining, so that our continued help can meet extraordinary expenses such as their medical bills as well as non-urgent needs, such as school uniforms for the children or Christmas gifts. We will also support wider population of needy children in Bujumbura
Formation of the Charity
We had signed up for a social action project to teach business skills to students in Burundi, but we were also aware that as it was the fourth poorest country on the planet we might be able to help in other ways. One of our trustees discovered the Better Life Cycle charity blog about the Orphanage of Hearts, and, having packed a bag of toys and clothing, decided to visit them during the trip in July 2013.
It was very obvious that this home for 76 children was urgently in need of support. Albert, the founder, came close to tears several times as he described how the children arrived at the orphanage, from hospitals when their mothers died, some who were abandoned in the wood by the lake, and even babies who were left in holes in the ground.
They are surviving on one meal a day if they are lucky, cooked in a cut down oil drum in the garden. Any leftovers are given to the street children that they have no space for, and who knock on the gates at noon every day in the hope of some food. There are just three bedrooms, one for girls, one for boys, and one for the toddlers. Mattresses cover the floors from wall to wall, so it is virtually impossible to hang adequate mosquito nets. They do not have equipment for the children, in fact they don’t have anything, but have to provide school uniforms and stationery for the orphans to attend school.
Despite the hardship and the stress they gave us a warm welcome with fantastic singing, and they told us about their hopes for the future. Going to school, going to college, staying healthy and looking out for each other – the usual ambitions for children and young teenagers.
Whilst there, we discovered they were weeks away from losing their premises as they were 4 months in arrears with their rent.
We felt we could not help all the people in Burundi who live in extreme poverty, but may be we could help this community of children, cared for by six committed volunteers led by the extraordinary Albert, who has dedicated his life and all of his resources to giving a start in life to as many children as possible, many of whom would have died without the Orphanage of Hearts.