On Friday 21 February the conference entitled "The elderly in Burundi: raising the awareness of the nation" was held in Bujumbura. The event - which saw the participation of more than 300 people - was an opportunity to make better known in the country the situation of the elderly that, as in many African countries, live in a situation of increasing marginality. The community became aware of their situation, took charge of their needs of companionship, support and solidarity and became their voice before the country.
In Burundi, the elderly still account for only 2.3% of the population. However, life expectancy - also thanks to peace - has grown a lot in recent years: in 2000 it was only 44 years old and has now risen to almost 60.
It is expected, therefore, that in 2050 the elderly will reach 12% of the population. Faced with this growth that lies ahead so fast, the Community of Sant'Egidio proposed that, around the elderly, a network of solidarity is developed to involve different actors of society and supported the importance of choosing the model of home care compared with that of institutionalization. These proposals, which have attracted attention and interest, are what Sant'Egidio already lives visiting the elderly in the countryside and in Bujumbura, in the neighborhoods of the city and in a nursing home.
The presence of mons. Matteo Zuppi, auxiliary bishop of Rome and ecclesiastical assistant of the Community of Sant'Egidio, as well as official mediator of the peace talks for Burundi, facilitated the opening of a debate on the future of the country, its inhabitants and the future generations.
The conference was also attended by the First Vice President of the Republic, the Minister of National Solidarity, the Minister of Public Administration, two Presidents Emeritus of the Republic, the Archbishop of Bujumbura and several other personalities.