Association and the Kamenge Clinic
Leah Hazard, Global Health Corps Fellow
patients tell when visiting the Friends Women’s Association’s
(FWA) Kamenge Clinic are often difficult to hear. HIV+ pregnant mothers
who were unable to secure antiretroviral drugs in time to ensure a healthy
pregnancy, women struggling to raise children after being chased from
their lands by the relatives of a deceased husband, and women seeking
adequate health care from a woefully deficient system.
are also stories of women filled with pride after being trained as
Health Worker, stories of HIV+ women who have successfully started
small businesses with a small amount of seed funding, stories of women who
finally feel better after accessing medical care and affordable medications.
These are the stories of the partnership between FWA and the women it serves.
Burundi’s 13-year civil war was drawing to a close, women in
Kamenge gathered to determine how they could help their community
recover from the
violence. Together, in 2002, they formed FWA in order to respond to the
unique needs of women in the post-conflict environment. FWA’s
founders wanted to address the issues of poverty, HIV/AIDS, sexual
violence and post-genocide
trauma facing women in their community.
mission is to provide holistic health care to women and their families,
while promoting women’s leadership and strengthening
peaceful communities throughout Burundi. In pursuit of this mission,
FWA operates a small health clinic in Kamenge, a neighborhood hard hit
The clinic’s services range from primary and preventative care
to laboratory testing and HIV services. With the goal of providing comprehensive
patients with a demonstrated need are incorporated into home visits and
FWA’s major accomplishment has
been in working with communities to help them recover from trauma.
Through a partnership with the American Friends
Service Committee and funds from AusAID (Australia government), FWA
has greatly expanded its trauma healing services. With the belief that
Burundi the most
common form of re-traumatization is poverty, its programming aims to
combine trauma healing with poverty alleviation efforts. Women go through
both a basic
and advanced trauma-healing workshop with other women in their community.
At the end of the advanced training, women are given tools to support
of their own business, or expand their agricultural efforts.
Manager, Sapphire Williams, a Quaker Peace and Social Witness peaceworker
from England, explains that the organization is looking
for women who are
suffering from extreme poverty. The whole idea of our trauma healing
program is that
it’s holistic. As much as it focuses on trauma healing, it
focuses on poverty reduction. It relies on the idea that even if
and undergo healing, you will not be able to fully recover from that
trauma if you are in a state of extreme poverty.
In the future,
the organization expects to improve their services, slowly but surely.
They have plans to become a vaccination center
for the community,
a generator to ensure the consistent supply of electricity, and
to expand their trauma healing services to even more communities
When I came to the workshop, I was feeling so bad, my heart was about
to explode. Three weeks ago my husband died. I also had problems with
my children, which caused me so much pain. But when I started coming
to the workshop, what we learned helped me so much. I feel better now.
I even started to laugh again. I feel released. Cecile, trauma healing
project came to me like a miracle from God because I have a neighbor
who helped me to work. We gathered our money and together
we started a project selling charcoal….Per month, we can gain a
profit of approximately 80,000 FBU ($63)... Because of this, I can say
that thanks to the microfinance project, my life has completely changed.
Today I have an occupation. I spend my day at the work site. I have friends
at work who accompany me and encourage me day by day. I no longer feel
depressed. Marie-Rose, micro-finance participant
I learned about FWA from a Quaker church, and came to a training for
repatriated refugees. That's how we started to go help one another in
the fields. As a participant in a trauma healing workshop, I learned
the best practices and techniques about counseling - and in return, I
shared it with other women in the community. Now . . . we talk and find
solutions for change together in our lives. Suzanne, 36-years old, trauma
healing workshop participant