Despite his young age, Issa has lived on the streets of Bujumbura for three years now. He started life watching his family struggling to provide for him, and after failing at school, he opted to run away from home.
At the age of twelve, he had already learned to fend for himself by begging for money in town during the day and sleeping on cardboard at night. He said, “The most challenging thing was hiding from the police. They would beat us up whenever they saw us.”
Issa’s life changed dramatically when one day he was hit by a car. Thankfully, the person driving took him to a nearby hospital but then left him. With no one to take care of him, he spent days in a hospital hallway.
When New Generation Burundi (NGB) heard of his accident, they took him to one of their street children’s homes. They have been feeding him, washing him, and taking care of him ever since. They also take him regularly to the hospital for treatment.
Issa had been taking part in reintegration training at NGB before the accident. The activities support children as they return to education and offer practical help so that, if possible, children can return to their families. Like many other young people in the street who have run away from home due to abuse or poverty, schooling and being part of a family were two things Issa had felt were unobtainable. Through the support of NGB his expectations have expanded. Can you imagine how he felt as he realised he had been given the gift of hope?
Teddy, the New Generation Programme Coordinator, speaks warmly, “Issa is one of the good kids who has been coming regularly for training”. Space has been made for Issa so that he has a safe place to stay whilst his future is worked out. He tells us that sadly, they cannot take in any more young people at present due to the residential homes for children being full.
With a small and frail body, Issa appears younger than his age. It is clear life in the street has not been kind to him, but he maintains a positive spirit. “I would like to be a footballer.” Even in a wheelchair with a plastered leg, he now believes his dreams are plausible.
New Generation has located Issa’s father, and they have been able to meet.
Issa wants to reconcile with his parents and return home after his recovery. He also wishes to go back to school. Even though his parents cannot support him, he still believes that he will complete school.
For now, Issa is thankful to New Generation and to God. He sees the accident as a second chance at life.
Although the New Generation’s residential home is currently at full capacity, plans are underway to build a brand new Street Children center, which will increase capacity and equip them with better facilities for the types of programmes which Issa benefitted from.