How do children live in Burundi?
Children’s lives in Burundi can look very different. City children whose parents have a good job go to school and don’t have to work. Children in the country may be poor, but most of the time they have many playmates, if not many games. But they are inventive and build toys for themselves.
Child labor and street children
Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world and so many children live here in great poverty. They don’t have a home, they don’t go to school and they have probably never seen a doctor in their life. Thousands of children live on the streets in Burundi. 26 out of 100 children in Burundi perform child labor.
The parents of these children often perished in the terrible civil war. Many are also from AIDSfell ill or died. So many children have been orphaned and in the end they are alone on the street. Here they often team up with other children and fight for survival. There is usually the law of the strongest. The children take what they can. If they don’t make money begging, then they have to steal. Many also use drugs to endure life on the street.
Do all children in Burundi go to school?
Since 2011, the children in Burundi have been attending primary school for nine years. The model for the education system in the country is Belgium, which administered Burundi for many years as a mandate of the League of Nations. School has not cost anything since 2005 and the number of children attending school has increased significantly. Since then, many more young people have been able to read and write. But the families incur costs for school uniforms, which are mandatory. And the secondary schools, where a degree is first obtained, still cost money.
Large classes – few degrees
There are often 80 students in a class and not even half graduate at the end. Many children drop out of school prematurely. The number of children who start school is high, but only half make it to secondary school and only one in 100 children later attend university.
The problem is also that the way to school is often very long for many children, especially the children who live in the countryside and most of the people in Burundi live in the countryside. There are almost no kindergartens at all.
Another problem in Burundi is the lack of teachers and poor equipment in schools. There is a lack of everything, textbooks and school materials. If the teachers are not paid on time, they go on strike. That is understandable and is not uncommon.
Many aid organizations are in the process of improving the situation in Burundi with the help of donation programs. Without outside help, the school system in Burundi would probably be even worse.
Good examples ahead: “Happy Burundi”
But there are also positive things to report. In Burundi, for example, there is the Akilah Institute for Women, where only women can graduate in various fields of training. In the following video they advertise their school, for themselves, for their country and for everyone in Burundi.
Urban and countryside
The differences between urban and rural areas are great in Burundi. In the cities there are people who earn more money and whose living conditions are better than those of the people who live in poverty in the countryside.
One speaks here of a middle and an upper class, which are mostly to be found in the capital Bujumbura. These people often have jobs in administration, business or the military. But more people live in the country than in the city. Many here are also threatened by hardship and hunger and are struggling to survive on a daily basis.
The roads in Burundi are very poorly developed. The vehicles also often do not look roadworthy. Buses are usually full and not always very trustworthy. But since very few people have their own car, they are dependent on this public means of transport if they want to cover a longer distance.
Burundi is dangerous
Burundi is dangerous. Those who travel around often have people with them to protect them from being attacked. But another danger looms and that is the cyclists in Burundi. They drive too fast, they usually drive with loads that are far too heavy and they drive with bicycles that we would immediately remove from traffic as “not roadworthy”.
If you drive 60 kilometers per hour on the streets of Burundi, it can very well happen that a cyclist passes you, perhaps even transporting a banana tree on the luggage rack. Here it is possible to swerve quickly, because one or the other can be thrown out of the curve.
Weddings are of great importance in Burundi and are traditionally celebrated. Many people also marry in church, since most of them are of Christian faith. Before that, you celebrate a big festival and present a cow, which is a symbol and stands for luck and fertility. It is celebrated extensively and such a wedding can be quite expensive. Some bride and groom even go into debt because of it.
In Burundi, having cows is a sign of importance and wealth. You are also not allowed to kill lizards in Burundi. In addition to cows, trees are also worshiped in Burundi.