My name is Fiona and I am 16 years old, I would like to share my story.
When I was younger I lived with my mother, brothers and sisters. My father did not live with us nor did any of my other siblings fathers. My dad, who is a cook lives around Bujumbura and is Congolese.
Sadly, my mother and brothers died of ‘witchcraft’ (this is practiced in Burundi) leaving me with nowhere to go. My dad offered me to go and live with him, only if I became Muslim; I declined.
I then went to live with my mothers’ younger sister; I lived there for 10 years. I was told to wash the dishes, sweep and wash the floor and all the other chores in her house, I felt unappreciated for all the hard work I did, so I left. My aunt never said a word about me leaving, since I was seen as a burden. After this I went to live with my older sister and her husband, this was a lot better for me. However, one day my sister went away for a few days leaving her husband and I at home. One night her husband tried to rape me, I managed to get away but realized that I could not stay there anymore, I ran away.
Afterwards, I went to live with another aunt of mine. One of the girls I lived with stole some flour from my aunts’ cupboard to make naan bread, she told me not to tell anyone, so I didn’t out of fear of what would happen if I did. When my aunt arrived home she found out about the missing flour and threatened to beat us up if we did not admit to who did it. No one said a thing so she burnt us all; I now have a larg scar on my leg.
After the incident I left and went to live with Donna (another New Generation Child). My dad would come to visit often and brought Donna’s parents some beer as a peace offering. Donna and I used to go to the market and go through the garbage bins to find rice and potatoes, which we used to cook and eat.
After a while I left Donnas’ to go stay with Josie and Jane (New Generation children) who also lived on the streets. We used to stay in places that were not very secure especially in wet weather the house would often be swept away. We moved away from this area once we realized it was too far to walk to school each morning. We then found a house that was unfinished which, was much closer to the school. Living on the streets was not easy, some of the boys (now New generation Kids) that were also on the streets would come to find us and try to rape us. The man who ran the building we stayed in chased us away due to unwanted problems caused. That night we had nowhere to go. We ended up sleeping under a palm tree, the night after was similar but under the tree by the tree café.
The night after that we slept at the school until late in the evening when the guard came around, so we had to run away again. We were once again left with nowhere to go.
Sylvester, a former child from the New Generation center spotted us and helped us, by making sure we were safe each night, we all felt a lot safer with him around. He would often speak to the people who would chase us away to explain the issue to them and hopefully convince them to let us stay. He brought us flour when we only had vegetables to eat. He saved us; he is like a father. He wanted to help us more, get us off the streets and into a safe place so he tried to call Dieudonne (the founder of New Generation) but unfortunately he did not answer, he then tried Igor he was not sure what he could do to help. So as a last resort he called Amela, she offered us shelter at her house for the night; they then arranged for us to stay at New Generation.
Life is beautiful now; we have food and water, a place to sleep and great friends… We can lead a normal life and not worry about where we will sleep each night. When I grow up I would like to become a lawyer, I don’t have a reason but my body and mind tells me that is what I was meant for.
Note: Names have been changed due to the child protection act.