Burundi - Great enthusiasm for the visit of Andrea Riccardi on the 50th anniversary of Sant’Egidio

Andrea Riccardi visited the Communities of Sant'Egidio of Burundi, in recent days. This first visit to the country was welcomed with great enthusiasm: more than 1000 youngsters from every corner of Burundi - together with a delegation from the Community of Uvira (a Congolese town few kilometers from Bujumbura) - gathered for this meeting.

In the large assembly of young people gathered in Bujumbura, Andrea Riccardi emphasised how the communities in Burundi are called to invest a talent on which the words Pray, Poor and Peace are written. Looking for new ways of responding to the sorrow of the poor, and never renouncing to fight and hope for more humane cities and villages: these are the challenges with which the communities in Burundi are called to challenge themselves.The visit was also an opportunity to encounter the poor who share the life of the community, particularly in the Sainte Elizabeth Care Home where the Community has been present since 2009. Altogether, Sant’Egidio helps more than 500 elderly only in the city of Bujumbura.

The Community in Burundi was born while the country was facing a civil war. In Kinama, on the outskirts of the capital city, the School of Peace started when the district was still under bombing. The Community never stopped to seek peace for the country and nowadays the School of Peace is the visible sign this is a dream come true. Many youngsters witnessed it at the meeting with Andrea Riccardi. Among them there was B., a 15 years old boy who as a child was forced to beg due to the poverty of his family. He told about the feelings of anger and revolt in which he grew up, then the encounter with the Community and the School of Peace, followed by the long-awaited placement in public school. "I was without history - he said - but today thanks to the Community, I am a boy who belongs to a history... My dream is to become a doctor and provide exceptional care to the elderly".