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Foundation Jean-François Peterbroeck
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Supporting Burundian university students who are refugees in Rwanda

2016 till 2021


Since 2015, Burundi has been shaken by a major political and security crisis, terrorising the civilian population on a daily basis and provoking a large movement of refugees to neighbouring countries (Rwanda, Tanzania and DRC). As of 15 May 2017, there were 85,520 Burundian refugees in Rwanda, including a very large number of young people.

MWIZERO aims to provide university and higher education for Burundian refugee students in Rwanda and thus enable them to develop future projects. The project combines two complementary perspectives:
1. Urgency: to prevent delinquency and participation in armed groups of young Burundian refugees in Rwanda;
2. Development: to prepare the return to Burundi of young refugees abroad.


Burundian refugee students in Rwanda, recognised and registered as such by the UNHCR and the Rwandan Ministry in charge of disaster and refugee management.
The indirect beneficiaries of the project are the 2,000 family members of these students.


English language training for 426 students and university training for 407 students (covering academic fees, teaching materials, living expenses, transport costs and health care) were provided; 290 students graduated by the end of 2021.


Letter from student helped by Maison Shalom to continue her university studies in Lyon

Dearest OMA
Indeed I am writing to thank you, there is no adequate word to express my deep gratitude, really thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
As you know, it is not easy to leave your routine, your family, your friends, your country from one day to the next ; all this while being forced to do so because staying was suicidal. I saw so much hatred and violence, so much sadness in the eyes of some. The despair in the eyes of the mothers seeing their sons fall one after the other like flies. The fathers trying to reassure their families but you could feel the fear eating away at them like a cancer. Before, when I walked down the street, I walked upright, proud of myself, proud of my identity, proud of my slim height. But then, when I walked, I tried to make myself small to not be noticed.
but in vain my six-foot height wouldn't let me. So when I felt that someone was looking at me, I had a few drops of sweat. I remember that the joy of life that had rocked my childhood had given way to the horrible stench of fear.
The day my older brother was arrested on his way out of college was a nightmare. With so many people disappearing and never resurfacing, we thought, "Now it's our turn. But the good GOD answered our prayers and returned him safely. My father gathered us all together and said: it's time you got away from here. This time God smiled on us, but who knows what will happen next? Let's not tempt the devil. That night my mother couldn't stop crying.
When we arrived in Rwanda, it was a relief. It took me a month to be able to sleep like I used to, sometimes I would wake up terrified, and my twin who was sleeping next to me would get up and turn on the light and say “do you know where we are?” He would show me the map above the bed, and point to where we were, “we're too far away from them now try to sleep instead’. This little ritual went on for quite some time. After, we started to look for small jobs , because life in Rwanada is more expensive than in Burundi.
During all this time I kept thinking about my studies that I had left and the fact that maybe I would never do them again. But I consoled myself by telling myself that the main thing was that I was alive. The rest would come or not, I didn't care.
And that's when you appeared in my life like a being of light coming to enlighten me in the darkness. At first it was the English classes. I couldn't believe that someone would give me such a gift. I went there with such joy, I met other young Burundians like me, companions of misfortune. We told each other about our miseries, we sympathised and sometimes we laughed about it. It warmed our hearts.
The day I was told that I would be able to continue my studies in Lyon, it was amazing. I couldn't believe it because it seemed too good to be true.
Days went by and the dream became reality, bit by bit.
The day I met you, I was so impressed! I looked at you and thought, this is an angel. I got closer and saw that you were breathing like the rest of us. You were glowing, the smile that never left your lips, the kindness… it did me a lot of good
Read the full testimony

Our actions

Whether on a national or international level, we want to offer young people the best possible opportunities for the future. We support projects through concrete action on the ground thanks to our partner organisations
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