1. Apostolic Life:
On January 6, 1939, the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul was established in Italy, in the Diocese of Novara. The mission in Burundi was established in 1972 in the parish of Buhoro (the Archdiocese of Gitega). At the present time we are present in five dioceses:
- Diocese of RUYIGI: Parish of Gisuru
- Diocese of NGOZI: Parish of Ngozi
- Archdiocese of GITEGA: Parish of Bon Pasteur (Good Shepherd Parish)
- Diocese of BUBANZA: Parish of Masango
- Archdiocese of BUJUMBURA: Parish of Buterere
We are dedicated to service on behalf of those persons who are most poor, the beloved of Jesus Christ … we receive them; we assist them; we visit them in their homes.
The children are the primary beneficiaries and protagonists of our educational, human promotion and spiritual service. It was for that reason that we established the orphanage Casa Allessia de Masango, Casa Betania and La Escuela San Vicente de Paúl in Buterere. In these parish communities we are committed to providing liturgical ministry, catechetical ministry and caring for children.
Wherever we are, home visits to those who are most poor are essential.
More than 60 children are being cared for at the orphanage in Masango.
In Masango, the infirm receive assistance at our medical center.
As already stated, young children are for us a privileged group to whom we proclaim the good news Christ and at the same we entrust these children into the loving hands of God. This service is offered in the schools, often beginning in pre-kindergarten. The following photos were taken in the Saint Vincent de Paul School located in Buterere:
We also highlight here the socio-psychological support that we provide to children living on the street, children rescued by Casa Betania. Below are some photographs taken during the time of a sensitization session:
2. The challenges and the context of the place where we minister
Burundi is a country located in Central Africa. It is one of the three poorest countries in the world. Because of a lack of resources it is not easy to carry out the services that “our lords and masters” need … in so many situations we find ourselves being helpless.
In 1939 our Congregation was established in Italy. At that time it was easy to find benefactors and also the majority of our members were working age adults. Today, after the worldwide financial crisis, it has become more difficult to find such benefactors … and we have more elderly retired Sisters than young Sisters involved in full-time ministry.
Ministry at the orphanage is very demanding. It is also very expensive to buy milk for the children. For quite a few years a Swiss Corporation provided us with milk for the children … but two years ago that assistance came to an end.
As a result of poverty, we have experienced many relapses. To remedy this, we need to support families in difficult situations through income-generating activities (raising of small livestock: goats, pigs, chickens, vegetable cultivation …).
Casa Betania takes care of the most vulnerable girls and provides them with medical care, shelter, food, psycho-social and spiritual support … All of them are in school and are making progress.
Those children who are in sixth grade study at the Saint Vincent de Paul School.
The objective is social and family reintegration of these children. In this aspect we are not where we should be and part of the problem is the lack of resources. In our home visits we discover that many people are homeless as can be seen in the photographs below:
At time, we experience great pain during our home visits … for example, this family lives in extreme poverty, they have no roof on the hut that has been built on someone else’s land.
As Vincent de Paul said: love is inventive unto infinity. Very often we find ourselves in a situation in which it is necessary to accompany a particular family … and yet at the same time we often find it impossible to do so. We always attempt to do whatever is necessary and we continue to maintain our hope in the fact the Lord will continue to provide for people.
Together in prayer and ministry on behalf of “our lords and master” … thank you very much!
Burundi, July 21, 2019
Sister Rose Tovagliaro,
Sister Delegate of Mother General in Burundi.
Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM
Eastern Province, USA