to the FWA’s Kamenge Clinic
By Dr. Alexia Nibona, Director
were moments when I felt alone in the world and felt very sad. At
I was at home, I would find myself heading to the
FWA’s Kamenge Clinic because I was sure that there was always someone
there who was ready to listen to me, understand me, counsel me, comfort
me, and give a feeling of living again. Claudine Iradukunda
The interconnected challenges faced by women in Kamenge, a poor suburb
of Bujumbura, the capitol of Burundi, include the following.
HIV/AIDS: The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Kamenge is not known but the
World Bank estimates that Burundi as a whole has an infection rate of
11.2% and in a preliminary test done by the FWA’s clinic, 17% of
the people tested were HIV positive.
The lack of food security (especially as food prices have in some cases
doubled over the past year) which exacerbates the difficulty of healing
from diseases such as HIV/AIDS. According to the World Food Program,
only 18 percent of Burundi’s population is food secure, and thirty-four
percent are extremely food insecure (consuming less than 1,400 kcal per
day). They also estimate that 70 percent of family expenditure goes to
food, which makes rising prices very difficult to cope with
• The lack of access to clean drinking water.
• The lack of appropriate local health care.
• Psychosocial trauma from the war.
• Stigmatization of people who are HIV+.
Sexual violence: While there are no official statistics on domestic violence,
a recent survey by the Association of Catholic Women Jurists estimated
that one out of every three women in Bujumbura is being beaten at home.
It’s conceivable this number is even higher in Kamenge.
The challenges faced by the people of Kamenge are considerable. Yet they
are also a proud, resilient, and caring people who want urgently to rebuild
their lives, to care for each other, and to create a better future.
I want to thank AGLI for the support that it has given to FWA -- from
its beginning until today – and for supporting me as the Director
of the FWA, initially part-time, and now as full-time staff.
Currently FWA has an Executive Committee of 11 members that meets four
times a year and 37 members that make up the General Assembly that meets
once a year. Personnel that work at the clinic include Dr. Alexia Nibona,
Director; Joselyne Dusabe, Program Director; Marcelline Girukwishaka,
Manager and Accountant; two nurses, a hygienist, and a custodian, plus
a volunteer treasurer and a psychological counselor.
The clinic is currently involved in helping the people of Kamenge, with
- HIV/AIDS testing, treatment of opportunistic infections
- Information about and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases
- Prevention of mother-child HIV transmission
- Counseling, including plans to have HROC/HIV trainings [see article
on page XXX]
- Anti-stigmatization sensitization
three people came from the United States and Canada to participate
in a workcamp
to help expand the clinic [see article on page 15]. With
the completion of the additional rooms, supported by this year’s
workcamp, we will be able to be certified as a treatment site for anti-retrovirals
and other more advanced forms of treatment by the Ministry Public Health.
To achieve certification, we will also need to hire additional nurses
that have been trained by the Ministry of Health and have a Program Director
We were recently able, with the support of AGLI, to purchase a small
plot of land that is adjacent to the clinic. This will enable us to construct
additional buildings to house administrative offices and other programs,
such as income-generating activities for chronically ill patients who
otherwise are unable to have adequate nutrition.
Testimonies from Clinic Clients
Claudine Iradukunda lives in Kinama, close to Kamenge and is a widow
with four children:
I went to
visit my family in Rwanda and when I returned I discovered that my
tuberculosis and that he had tested positive for
HIV but he had not told me about it. I continued to ask him questions
because he had many medicines. His response was that I had to get tested
as well but I didn’t understand why. But I agreed to be tested
and I realized that I also was HIV positive.
I continued to be sick without knowing that there are medicines to help
people who have HIV. It was then that a friend bought me to the FWA clinic.
That helped me a lot because I was very sick before coming to the clinic.
that I came to the FWA clinic, Claire [a nurse at the clinic] gave
me a warm
welcome. I had never taken medications before, but every
time that I came they gave me medicines from FWA’s supplies.
The association also really comforted me. There were moments when I
felt alone in the world and felt very sad. At those times, if I was at
home, I would find myself heading to FWA because I was sure that there
was always someone there who was ready to listen to me, understand me,
counsel me, comfort me, and give a feeling of living again.
In the future, we will really love to completely belong to/be a member
of FWA and to receive anti-retroviral treatments there since it is difficult
to have money to buy a ticket to Bujumbura where I receive anti-retroviral
Nsenkambabaye is 46 years old, an unemployed widow, the mother of six
children, living in Kamenge:
In 2004, I just happened to be passing by when I saw the sign for FWA
and, as I knew I was HIV positive, I asked if I could be treated there
and they accepted me right away. I told them that I was also diabetic.
us greatly, comforting us and providing us with free medicine. Before
the clinic, I felt alone and isolated, without seeing
love when we were together in a psychological health meeting and when
we were eating together. Personally, I was touched by the welcome that
we received at the clinic by Claire, Alexia, and others. FWA also helped
us a lot by providing school supplies to my children. When I returned,
I said that I wasn’t as sick as before, and when I came down with
malaria, I always came directly to the clinic where they tested me and
provided me with free treatment.
Looking forward, first I would like to know if it would be possible
to receive anti-retroviral treatment from the clinic. Secondly, it would
make a big difference if FWA could assist me in providing for my children
because it is difficult to satisfy the needs of my children (who are
also sick) as an unemployed widow. For example, perhaps FWA could provide
a little start up capital so that I could start a small business that
would help me provide for my family.
Edmond Miburo, 40 years old, lives in Kamenge with his HIV+ wife, is
unemployed, and has five children.
I was an
orphan, and was raised by my stepmother, so I didn’t
have a chance to attend school. Everything started with the period of
the inter-ethnic Crisis [in 1993]. I was taking a bus to the province
of Cibitoke when the bus was stopped by armed bandits. I was seriously
wounded by the bandits and had to be taken to the hospital where they
cared for me for a long time. After leaving the hospital I continued
to be sick, and so I decided to be tested for HIV/AIDS and discovered
I was HIV positive. [Edmond thinks he contracted HIV while in the hospital.]
us a warm welcome and helps us connect to others living with HIV/AIDS,
they are limited in what they are able to provide as
treatment. Most of the medicine I am able to get I receive from FWA.
FWA doesn’t provide anti-retrovirals, but I would really love it
if they did.
FWA helps us send our children to school by providing school materials,
and also provides some training about the proper ways to raise children.
I want to sincerely thank FWA because it has really helped us during
our hard times. I continue to hope they will be able to provide anti-retrovirals,
after that they could also help with other necessities such as help with
an activity to generate a little money, as it is I live in a small room
with my wife and my 5 children.