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For the Burundi Unitarians from Rev. Ndagijimana Fulgence on Vimeo.

The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) is working with Burundi Unitarians to raise funds for a Burundi Unitarian Refugee Relief Fund. The original emergency funds raised to support the Unitarian refugees have now been fully disbursed, and there is urgent need to replenish them.

Burundi Unitarians have suffered a great deal since the current political crisis began in 2015. The church was attacked and ransacked. The minister, Rev. Ndagijimana Fulgence, was kidnapped and jailed, and released only as the result of tremendous pressure from Unitarians and UUs around the world. He left the country as soon as he could, seeking refuge in Canada. Other church members have had to leave the country for their safety as well. They are now scattered through Canada, the U.S., Belgium, and East Africa.

While in exile, some have received scholarships to attend University, some have collaborated to form their own business, and some are in desperate circumstances, with limited money for food. None of them have the funds that would be required to deal with medical issues and other unforeseen threats to their well-being.

Rev. Fulgence has received asylum in Canada. He is serving as a ministerial intern for the Saskatoon UU congregation as he works toward ministerial fellowship in the U.S. and Canada.  His wife and son are now with him, and are beginning the asylum process there. He continues to minister to his Burundi congregants, maintaining daily contact to provide them with guidance and spiritual support. Hope is fueled by reminders that UUs from around the world have not forgotten them.

The congregation in Burundi still meets every Sunday with about 20 attendees (including 5 new members this year).  They are holding on to each other for dear life!  The Unitarians are in some danger and may need to leave quickly; the government is actively seeking out and killing those perceived to be opponents (which includes anyone not actively supporting the President).  The situation in Burundi is very fragile now as the President has announced his intention to run for yet another term (contrary to the agreement that ended the last civil war). The UN and African Union are warning of high potential for civil, or even regional, war and of genocide.

The Burundi Unitarian Refugee Relief Fund will promote the safety of church members in Burundi, including those who are forced to flee, as well as those members currently in exile who are having difficulty meeting their basic needs for food, housing, and health care.

Requests for funds will be reviewed by Rev. Fulgence, who is currently the Vice-President of the ICUU board. Final decisions about disbursal of funds will be made in collaboration with the ICUU Executive Director and Treasurer.  Funds will address needs deemed most critical, with the goal of promoting self-sufficiency.

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