While on the 2011 Study Tour to Burundi, our team experienced a wide range of emotions. There were moments of incredible joy, like playing under a colorful parachute with children; and moments where our hearts would break when a mother would beg us for food for her children. One night though, we witnessed an immense brokenness and suffering as we listened to the story of Domitrien and Innocent. Domitrien, who described the life he shared with his son, Innocent, as “a prison”. We shared their story in August’s blog and today we are humbled and thrilled to share with you an update on their lives.
We were devastated by the hopelessness of Domitrien and Innocent’s story- Domitrien’s wife had left him with their three year old son. They lived in a meager house that needed constant repair and their only belongings were a rock to sit on, a blanket to share, and a pot to cook with. Feeling Domitrien’s pain, we immediately brainstormed ways we could help. We started adding it up: just $75 would provide a new home for them and another $50 would purchase bedding and cooking materials. Only a bit more would also supply tools so Domitrien could till his own land, providing a stable source of food and income for the family. We pooled our extra ‘souvenir’ money and came up with $200. Innocent had also been registered for World Vision’s child sponsorship program and one of our team members, Nicole, stepped up eagerly, announcing she would be proud to sponsor Innocent.
Several months have passed and we eagerly awaited news of Domitrien. A few weeks ago, we received an update from the World Vision staff in their community. With the $200 we left, World Vision mobilized their staff and community members to build the family’s new home. The roof is made of iron sheets to provide a dry home in the rainy season. Sisters from a nearby orphanage have been paying Innocent visits to give him the proper medical care and nutritional food. The last time we saw Innocent, he was barely able to stand due to his weakness and lack of nutrition. In the pictures below, he exudes a radiant face as he stands next to his new home.
Seeing these pictures of their new home brings us so much joy. This family in rural Burundi now has a dry home, warm beds, a livelihood and most importantly…hope. Domitrien used to be faced with an awful choice when he earned any money-purchase food or piece together his broken house. Now, with the money Domitrien earns he will be able to purchase food and spend his time working his land. Innocent will have the opportunity to attend school, grow, learn, and reach his potential. Team Burundi had the privilege and humble honor of becoming the answer to Domitrien’s prayers – a release from what he called “a prison”. Their story has become our story and we carry it with us. This is what the 30 Hour Famine is about: kids with compassion, lending a hand to those in need and bringing light into the darkness.
Ellie Hutchison traveled to Burundi in August on the 2011 Study Tour. She interned with the 30 Hour Famine team at World Vision U.S. headquarters this past fall and in January leaves for Australia with Youth With a Mission.