Gaudence, a volunteer of the Focolari, is involved in her parish, that of St. Michael (Bujumbura) where there is much poverty. Together with others, many activities have been carried out, but the poor remain the same, actually they are always increasing.
So she seeks Francoise, who belongs to a local association of the Focolare Movement (CASOBU) that seeks to respond to the necessities of the population and contribute to the reconciliation of the various ethnic groups. She is occupied, in a particular way, with projects of communitarian microcredit and vouches for their positive results. The method used for this microcredit is actually the constitution of “savings and credit groups” that find within themselves the necessary resources, learning to manage their own economic situation.
This opens up a new perspective for Gaudence, and together they approach the parish priest, who initially is not very convinced.
On the day that the project is presented to the poor of the parish, Francoise is surprised by the large group of persons of advanced age, and in a state of total poverty. But the perplexity of the persons listening is also evident: “How can we save if we do not have anything?” they ask. In spite of the general scepticism, the parish priest invites all to give it a try. 3 groups of 25 persons each are formed and formative meetings are started.
“We continue to repeat that we will not give out money-they relate– and that the loans must come from their small savings.” Not all understand. One day, feeling more discouraged than usual, they tell each other decisively: “let us explain the method once again, and then trust in Jesus, because we do this only for Him.”
The meetings continue with highs and lows, but surprisingly, as the course continues, hidden talents and strengths emerge. Even those who had no other prospect except to beg in front of a church, begin to invest productively.
“For some months-Francoise relates– I had to be substituted in the formation activities, because I was busy preparing for my marriage. Many persons from St. Michael came to congratulate me, with their eyes shining with joy: they were no longer indigent! They related to me the success of their small activities.”
An aged woman proudly told me: “I no longer need the help of Caritas, so they can give to someone else; because now I ask for a loan and then I repay it .I am thinking of enlarging my small fruit and vegetables stall.”
Only 6 months have passed, and already 90 persons have renounced spontaneously to the help of Caritas, so that the aid may be given to other poor people.
“It was incredible how this happened. Many of those who made it were among the poorest and the aged. We remembered that we had asked God to take care of these persons, and we understood that the success of the project was his work.”
«At the moment CASOBU promotes the communitarian microcredit at Bujumbura, in the vicinities of Kinama, Cibitoke and Kamenge, but the circle is increasing. Another parish, in the northern zone, wants to start this experience.
It is one of the many projects assisted by the international non-profit organisation of the Focolari, “Action for a united World” (AMU- Azione per un Mondo Unito.)
Those who wish to participate, even with a “one off” contribution can use the current account at:
Associazione Azione per un Mondo Unito, presso Banca Popolare Etica, filiale di Roma.
Code IBAN: IT16GO501803200000000120434
Code SWIFT/BIC CCRTIT2184D
Cause: “Micro credit projects in Burundi”.
Further information can be accessed in project form.