Burundi

Little Flame: Where Hope And Love Remain

Sr Minerva Marcelino ICM

As Christmas comes nearer I remember an experience two years ago that was painful yet meaningful and challenging. I wish to share this with you as my Christmas greetings of hope and love.

‘Akana Yesu Kavutse’ ‘The Child Jesus is born’, was our song on the eve of 15 December 2005.

Adidji

That same night, an old woman came to AKAMURI, a center for mentally handicapped children, bringing Adidji, a four-year-old boy who looked more like a two-year-old, whom we took to be her grandson. I took the boy and started to diagnose him. Like many other children I encounter here, he suffered from cerebral palsy. He couldn’t sit by himself, having some contractions in the upper and lower extremities. I started to give him a simple massage to put him at ease with me. Most of the children are afraid of me, because I am a Musungu, a foreigner, a ‘white’ person, which I’m not.


Cossette with another paraplegic child

ICM Presence Remains In Burundi

By Sister Agnes Minerva ICM and Sister Josephine ICM

Sr Josephine serves in the Diocese of Bujumbura, Burundi, as nurse. Sr Agnes Minerva shares life with children with mental disabilities. They belong to the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the ICM Sisters, popularly known in the Philippines before as ‘the Belgian Sisters.’ The background to this story is the war that began after the assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye in an attempted military coup on 21 October 1993. Ten years of war led to 300,000 deaths, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The estimated population in 2004  was around 6, 200,00, but its difficutlt to get accurate figures.

The Dead Were Buried But Life Continues

By Sister Josephine Ong ICM

Burundi, a former Belgian colony, is a landlocked country in central Africa with an area of 27,830 sq kms, just over a quarter of the size of Luzon. 62 percent of its 6,223,897 people (July 2001 estimate) are Catholics. 85 percent are ethnically Hutus and 14 percent Tutsis. Inter-ethnic conflict has broken out a number of times and at least 200,000 died in a civil war that lasted from1993 into 2000. Trouble broke out again last year, as Sister Josephine writes.

On 5 July 2003 five new priests were ordained in our diocese in a beautiful ceremony that lasted nearly six hours. These were the first ordinations at Our Lady’s shrine, north of the city proper of Bujumbura, the capital. About a thousand attended the agape. And can you imagine nine choirs? It was impressive how all the parishes and the reception committee put their hands together to make this day memorable.