Your Gift: A Future – A new home for Kentia
“One night, I decided I wasn't going home anymore.”
For many children, a home means a safe place and a loving family, but not for Kentia. Things were so bad at home for the 11-year-old girl that the street became a better alternative. Today, she lives in the children’s home of the Fondation Stamm, an organization in Bujumbura, Burundi that provides shelter and assistance to street children, former child soldiers, AIDS and war orphans, and victims of sexual violence.
“I was usually out all day looking for food. I was terrified,” Kentia said, the broad smile on her slim face transforming into a stern look as she narrates her ordeals.
“My mother often told me that one day she would kill me with a knife. She thought I was a difficult child. I didn't do all the housework she gave me and she would beat me when she was drunk.” With no relatives to go to, Kentia had no choice but to face the hard life on the streets where she was left to fend for herself, exposed to all manners of exploitation.
“A man once brought us into his house, gave us food and molested us,” she recounts. In a bid to forget her everyday struggles, Kentia began sniffing glue and in no time became addicted to the practice. One day, she was arrested by the police.
More and more children have become homeless in Burundi
Many young girls in Burundi have faced the same fate as Kentia. The east African country has been in the grips of violence since 2015 that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, in many cases separating children from their parents. The number of homeless children in the country has consequently grown significantly over the past years. Also, more than two-thirds of the Burundians live below the global poverty line.
Kentia's life took a turn for the better when one of her friends was arrested by the police and was handed over to Fondation Stamm. On hearing her friend’s story, the social workers at Fondation Stamm began to search for Kentia and also brought her into the home when she was found. Since then she has fared better. Kentia finally feels loved and supported. “All the people who take care of us here love children. They encourage us to eat and have time to listen to us,” she says, her smile returning to her face.
Some respite at last for Kentia
The children's home of the Fondation Stamm in the Kanyosha district of Bujumbura is home to around 40 children between the ages of three and 16. Since 2018, Malteser International has been providing support for two of the Foundation's children's homes. In addition to food and a roof over their heads, children in the homes receive free access to education, school materials, psychosocial care and legal assistance if, for example, their birth certificates are missing.
Thanks to the work of Fondation Stamm, Kentia is finding her place in the world in spite of the difficulties in her past. With your support, she can be certain of a brighter future.
Help us give her and other children the gift of a better future!