These boys fled Burundi around the same time. They were all living away from their families, studying in and around Bujumbura (a little over 10 miles from the Congolese border), and when the fighting erupted they each had little choice other than to flee on their own.

On arrival at the UNHCR transit centre they were told that there are three people to every house. Being of a similar age & back- ground they arranged to live together – even though they had never met before.

Wash things. © Mike Tinney
Three to this make-shift bed© Mike Tinney

Their shared bed is the size of a small double, they made the mattress themselves from bamboo and sacks. The boys have also built a table - during the rainy season it is vital that they try to keep all their belongings off the floor, due to the amount of mud & water that seeps in underfoot.

Tresor. © Mike Tinney

Tresor mentioned how Mai- Mai rebels come into the camp some nights. They will intimidate & steal from boys his age and younger if they don’t join their armed group.

There are no locked doors to hide behind here, and for disaffected young men, with no safe place in the world, the lure of drugs, power & camaraderie can easily begin to creep in. That’s why facilities to educate, not only these Burundian refugees, but also to make sure the Congolese children don’t get left behind are so important.

Read more

Giving Burundian refugees a place in which to learn and enjoy some precious normality.
Supporting young Burundian refugees and struggling Congolese schools.
Blog post
I’m not long returned from a trip to eastern DR Congo where I was visiting Children in Crisis’ work with young Burundian refugees.