Team Burundi: The pride of street children representing their nation

Posted on the 2nd April 2013

“With just a year to go until the beginning of the 2014 Street Child World Cup, order excitement at New Generation Burundi is at an all-time high as preparations begin for our exciting trip to Brazil in March next year.

The SCWC comes at a time when the number of street children in the country’s capital, Bujumbura, is at an all-time high, and the country itself is still slowly recovering from decades of conflict, bringing with it extreme widespread poverty, general unrest, and infrastructures unable to cope with both the neglect it has seen in years past, as well as the rapid population growth.

New Generation, however, is full of pride in representing a nation, and particularly some of its most hidden children and youth, in the SCWC, and it comes at an important juncture in our growth. Like many small NGOs, New Generation has spent much of its current life cycle relying on external funding from various partners and individuals, but we are moving slowly to a more self-sustaining model which we hope can provide real scope for growth in the breadth of our work, moving to prevent children needing to come to the streets in the first place, rather than reacting to the situation of them already being there. The focal point the SCWC provides for us, and the potential it has to draw Burundians and many others together in a common goal, gives us a chance to create new relationships that will help us move towards our, in the long-term, self-sustaining goals.

The country of Burundi, and in particular Bujumbura, faces many challenges in its work with street children. Like so many other African nations, poverty is rife, and with that comes broken families, widespread alcohol abuse, poor (often unattainable) education, and inadequate healthcare. Children are both pushed to the streets by cases of abuse, be it physical, mental or sexual, as well as neglect, but are also pulled by the lure of food, money and peer pressure, the former two of which are generally a myth and give rise to extreme malnutrition and disease.

Like the children, however, we have real hope of a better future for all these children, and football is often a means by which we draw children together in a common goal, though harmony is rare given the vociferous support for either Arsenal, Chelsea or, most commonly, Manchester United! As we build towards March 2014, we continue to structure our football training to give boys and girls the best chance to do themselves justice in Rio, and we can’t wait to meet other teams from all the corners of the globe for some great football matches!”

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