RUGABA’S CHILDREN GROUP HOME
An Orphan Group Home with a heart to love and hands to give
Rugaba is the word in Kirundi, the local Burundian language, for God the Provider (Jehovah Jireh)
When Mukarabe’s sister died of HIV/AIDS, her 4 children were left as orphans (their father having passed away years ago). In Burundi, these children would normally be separated to live with relatives, often in the countryside, or enter an orphanage. Diane, the oldest, made the decision to quit school and take care of her siblings. They stayed in the little house Mukarabe had bought years ago while working as a UN officer in Kenya. Rugaba’s Children Group Home was established.
Although struggling with hunger, lack of school supplies and many other challenges, Rugaba’s children willingly opened their two bed room house to two more orphans:
-David, 6 years old, was left in the hospital-jail by his mother who could not pay the medical bills and take care of him. Rugaba's children went back to the hospital where they had met him after burying their own mother, rescued David and gave him a new home.
-Martin never knew his parents. He grew up in an orphanage and at the age of 16 was thrown out to make room for smaller children. He became homeless. Rugaba’s children offered him a place in their home.
AMAHORO INTERNATIONAL (AMI) came alongside Rugaba’s children and supported RUGABA’S CHILDREN GROUP HOME since 2002, paid food, school fees and house related expenses. Starting in 2006, AMI partnered with American organizations (PV Baptist Church, LA Faith Chapel, Mennonite Central Committee, Shalom Ministries and several others) for mission support, construction and maintenance of the Group Home. All of Rugaba’s children besides Diane graduated from High School between 2013 and 2015. Diane finished her High school studies in Portland, Maine in 2016.
In 2003, Rugaba’s Children founded AJOS, (Association of Young Orphans against poverty and HIV/AIDS), a nationwide organization educating orphans about the plight of AIDS, advocating for orphans rights, teaching methods of prevention and offering school supplies for poor students. AJOS grew from their 4 founding members to a more than 500 member strong organization represented in over half of the provinces in Burundi.
AMI partnered with AJOS and Independent Church in Africa (ICA) for the first JOYFUL NOISE MUSIC CAMP in Burundi in 2009 for 250 orphans. George Makinto, his two sons Leo and David and many volunteers from AJOS and ICA, organized 3 ½ weeks of activities: soccer tournament, musical instruction, theater workshops and biblical studies. The children and youth showcased their creative talents and skills at the final concert, which was attended by more than 1000 members of the community. Alex and Millie Ojera from Bombo Pentecostal Church, and Don and Elaine Herr from Align Ministries joined AMI for a 2 ½ day seminar about HIV/AIDS and its challenge for rural and urban communities.
Filled with gratitude from AMI’s generosity, and deeply disturbed by the plight of disadvantaged kids and their mothers, Nana Cynthia of Rugaba’s Children founded UCBUM (United Children of Today’s Burundi). Most of them are living on the municipal dumpster. UCBUM is a potential partner for AMI in Burundi.