A Servant to the Suffering

A Servant to the Suffering

“We are alive thanks to him. He cares for us.”

“We are alive thanks to him. He cares for us.”

Gaudence is over ninety years old and lives with one of her sons, Etienne, 55 in a mud hut with a straw roof which is just 1.5m². All of their possessions are contained in and around this hut. When it rains, the leaking roof provides little shelter. They sleep on the dirt floor. Gaudence is going blind, and Etienne has had a disability from early childhood. The video at the bottom of this page shows the conditions they live in.

Of Gaudence’s 11 children, only four have survived. She tragically lost them during the conflict that erupted in Burundi in 1993. “They were exterminated,” she recalls, with a painful voice, “they all perished.” Etienne once had a wife, but their marriage broke down soon after the wedding, and he moved back with his mother.

Over the years, their bodies have grown weaker, and they have struggled to find any income; “we are no longer able to work, we sometimes spend two days without eating,” Etienne shares. The profound suffering they have experienced often puts a strain on their relationship.

Denis is a schoolboy who lives nearby. His parents aren’t rich, but they have what they need and can afford to send their children to school. At his high school, Denis started attending an after-school club run by Restoration Burundi. In the club, they covered a variety of themes, including compassion and conflict resolution.

Restoration Burundi targets schools and communities to impact Burundian society. These clubs, operating all around Burundi, have profoundly impacted the schools and beyond as young people are inspired to make a difference in their communities. They also work alongside some of the poorest communities in the country to provide healthcare, education, opportunities and gospel hope.

Denis thought of Etienne and Gaudence, and as he reflected on their suffering and what he had learnt in the club, he felt compelled to reach out to them. With his very limited means, he helped them with food to eat, and fetched water for them – adequate water is an hour’s walk away.

“We are alive thanks to him. He cares for us.” Gaudence is profoundly touched by Denis’ help. “Even if I die today or tomorrow, I pray for him, that God blesses him abundantly and turns him into a powerful man.” 

Denis, centre, with Gaudance and Etienne

Denis even used the skills he acquired in the club to bring peace. “When I found Etienne insulting his mother, I reminded him that his mother is getting old and needs his support. I advised him to obey and honour her, no matter how hard life got. Fortunately, he accepted my advice, and they both live peacefully now. The only challenge now is their living conditions.” Denis said. 

Denis has limited means to make a profound impact, but there is no doubt that his faithful service and love for Gaudence and Etienne has made a huge difference! Restoration Burundi hopes to find funding to build an adequate home for Gaudence and Etienne. 

Vincent, who works with RESTOBU, sent us this video which tells their story and shows the heartbreaking conditions they live in.

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