To continuously improve the housing, chaperonage and supervision of the adolescents, the home for street children “Centre Birashoboka” has moved. The large old house in the Kanyosha district was abandoned and the Centre moved into two smaller houses in the Kajaga district, very close to the “Ecole Polyvalente Carolus Magnus” (EPCM). Currently 45 boys live at the “Centre Birashoboka I” and 35 boys live at the “Centre Birashoboka II”.
Aspects in favour of the move were:
The close proximity to the EPCM enables all boys to attend our school so that they can benefit from qualitatively better teachings. Additionally, now all school fees stay within the system, because Fondation Stamm pays the fees for the children to our own school.
The split into two separate but nearby houses was beneficial, as well. Less children per house improves the quality of life. The conditions in the Kajaga district are much better than in the poor district of Kanyosha, where too many negative influences and milieus (drugs, violence, prostitution etc.) permanently tempted and threatened the former street children.
With the move into the new houses stricter rules were implemented. There are regular cleaning plans and hygiene rules, regular collective meetings dealing with varied topics and the outings are subject to stricter rules as well.
Aside from the two houses, there is supervised accommodation for older boys. They are in apprenticeships. Additionally, so-called “support from distance” is provided to several boys and girls who live at home or with foster families, especially through paying school fees and for school material.
When the children and adolescents are reintegrated into social structures outside the Centre, they are released into self-reliance. If possible, they return to their families or Fondation Stamm supports them in finding an occupation.
The children and adolescents should not return to misery, therefore a financial basis is needed: If they return to their families, the families are supported in creating decent surroundings and they receive food support. If the to-be-released do not want to return to their families and want to start a small venture instead, Fondation Stamm provides some seed capital and guidance.
Bosco and Reverien are two young men in their early twenties from the street children project. They dropped out of school, so their time at the Centre passed rather slow for them. They had no motivation. After many talks with headmasters and psychologists, they started to understand that they had to take the initiative, if they wanted to do something with their lives.
They decided to start a project together: close to the street children house they rented a small clay house with their release support, where they now live. They bought a bike, a stove, a frying pan, oil, flour, potatoes, eggs and sugar and started producing: a sort of crêpe, which are called Chapatti in Burundi, Sambussa, which are potato filled samosas and Baignet, which are doughnuts made of soft curd cheese. All of this they sell on the market in bars and at construction sites in Bujumbura. The business is going well, so they were able to partner with a third man who is responsible for the sale. Bosco and Reverien now focus on the shopping and the production. Currently they make around 2,90 Euro a day, which is enough for the house and to put a little bit aside.
A promising start which is hopefully a sign to the boys that they can make it in life on their own.
David is a strong young man. His muscular arms show his long term membership in the drum group of the Centre. You might assume he is a soccer player rather than a hairdresser. But this is just what he is: a hairdresser. He used his reintegration payment to establish a little barbershop. He learned his skills at a vocational training, conducted by Fondation Stamm a few years ago. Finally he was putting them into practice. Together with a friend he is coiffing men, for 15 to 18 cents a cut. An electric shaver and cosmetic care products are absolutely necessary. But Posters of stars like Jackie Chan or Britney Spears and -for entertainment purposes- a radio are equally important. David and his friend earn up to 1.80 Euro a day. With his money David can even support his uncle, from whom he rented a room.
The street children house is an important facility and should be continued. There will be street children in Bujumbura (and in other towns in the country) as long as there is poverty in Burundi. It should be considered to extend the activities, eventually through buying a piece of real estate and building our own house.