February 10, 2013

Reaching out to Bujumbura

Market-FireWe learned last week of a fire in Bujumbura, the capital city of Burundi, which destroyed the large central market. While this sounds difficult,  successive emails from a variety of sources revealed that we, here, cannot begin to imagine the impacts. This central market was the distribution centre of many staple food products for Burundi, and also for several surrounding countries including Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Hundreds of people, small producers, artisans and entrepreneurs stored their money at the market, rather than at banks. Many of these people also had all their materials and stock at the market. Witnesses saw people running into the flames to die by suicide as they saw their life savings and means of work burn before their eyes.

You will of course remember that this city is the centre of the Diocese of Bujumbura, our partner diocese where Bishop Pie and his wife, Clavera, whom many of you met at synod, live and minister. This is also the city where Allison Blair of the cathedral congregation in Quebec City has for years ministered with street children and youth. We continue to receive updates from Allison.

Please keep the people and government of Burundi in your private and public prayers as they struggle to find the most effective ways to respond to this crisis.  Please plan fundraisers to provide assistance and/or special envelopes with the weekly offerings. Funds should be sent to the office of the Diocese of Quebec and marked “Burundi Market Fund.”

I have this week spoken and written almost daily with the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) and Louisa Blair has communicated with her sister, Allison, and other contacts she has in Burundi. The advice to date is that we concentrate on prayer and fundraising, with the monies to be sent to the most appropriate organization(s) when that is determined. At this point, the government has dissolved the former market committee and no new committee has been set up. With the assistance of PWRDF’s partners, our own partner and Allison Blair, we are researching who is proposing to do what, what might be the most effective forms of assistance, etc. Be assured that givings will be directed where there is a firm, effective plan in place and clear monitoring and accountability.

Deacon Cynthia Patterson

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