A royal visit!

Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium

Tuesday July 3rd 2012 was a very special day for the Village Imuhira and all the inhabitants of Rutegama in the province of Muramvya. While on an official visit to Burundi to attend celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence, the Belgian Crown Prince Philippe and his wife Princesse Mathilde spent an hour and a half at the Village Imuhira. The royal couple were accompanied by the Belgian ambassador to Burundi, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Development, and a whole army of journalists and television crew!

Needless to say, the visitors received a royal welcome from all the children and staff of the Village. The Prince and Princess were most impressed by the many different aspects of the project which started from scratch just seven years ago.

The royal couple officially opened the new farm complex which has received subsidies from the Department of Cooperation and Development. They also toured extensively the primary and technical schools which came into existence solely through the efforts of private donors and collective fund-raising activities.

This royal recognition comes as a welcome reward for seven years of hard and often sacrificial labour – in Burundi, Belgium, Switzerland and around the world. In just seven years, the Rurenda Hill has been transformed from an empty meadow into an attractive village bustling with activity, where vulnerable children, teenagers and adults can find hope for a better future.

Progress has been particularly impressive over the past few months:

The students of the technical school now attended their theory lessons in brand new classrooms.

A huge new shed has been built for the practical workshops of the masonry school, due to be opened in September.

The grounds of the Village complex have been beautifully decorated, with lawns, bushes, flower-beds, paths and rock gardens.

While the primary school already had its own water supply, a fresh water point has been installed in the grounds, to cater for the needs of the local inhabitants.

Since April, four community health nurses have been employed full-time to meet the medical, social and psychological needs of the children – in the schools of the Village itself and in seven other primary schools in the surrounding area. The initiatives include anti-malaria prevention, hygiene awareness, balanced nutrition, family planning, aid to vulnerable children, etc.

A community development programme has been created whereby vulnerable families receive micro-credits and learn to share responsibility on a rata-basis for collectively-managed resources. To this end, over 500 goats – an important form of capital in rural Burundi – have been distributed.

n

Through all these activities, the Village Imuhira seeks to combat poverty by educating parents and children alike, in order to give the present generation the tools necessary to take their destiny into their own hands.

We are deeply grateful to all of you who have helped to make this dream become reality!

The Village Imuhira team

To see more pictures of the royal visit, click here

French