Fate crossed our paths while I was doing post-doc research on household energy and indoor air quality and subsequently moved to Kigali to work for UNDP as an interim infrastructure development coordinator. Matt works (worked) for the electric utility company and was my liaison for pricing and service information for a project to provide power to a rural health center, and we became lifelong friends during the 21 months that I was in country. He was in a very dark place and repeatedly tells me that our friendship has been a lifeline to light and the belief that there is goodness in people. It was a truly humbling experience to witness the strength that it took for him to get up every day and face life.
Matt has seen and survived horrors that only humans inflict on their own. Some of his few surviving family members are once again caught up in another humanitarian crisis, fleeing from the recent violence in Burundi. Though Matt and his wife and three children life in extreme poverty, he has tirelessly searched the refugee camps to find and rescue his family members. Despite the fact that he has no means to support them, he cannot and will not turn away from finding and helping them any way he can. In the campaign photograph, see the pain and fatigue on his face and how he wraps his arms around the children, so desperate to protect them.
I and my family have been sending support but the number of people and immensity of their needs is beyond what we can provide. So far there are six additional families that need food, shelter, and medicine. This GoFundMe appeal is more than asking for money, it is a battered soul reaching out and putting his faith in a hope, a belief that somehow survives deep in his soul, that evil and injustice do not always win.
This is his story, in his own words:
Please Save the lives of the kids and mothers, refugees from Burundi in a very critical situation.
My name is Matt. My origins are Burundian (mother) and Rwandan (father), and I am a husband and father of three daughters 7, 5, and 3 years old. We are living with very limited means, a small monthly salary of $272, with bank loans, not easy to find enough food, clothes, school fees, monthly house rent, and unfortunately my work contract will expire by the end of August.
In 1988, when I was in my last year of primary school and living at my uncles and cousins in the north of Burundi, on the morning of 15th August, we were surprised by two days of massacres that took my uncles, cousins and almost all Burundian relatives. I survived because I had left and was on another hill the same morning. The only other family survivors were my cousins’ kids between 1 and 7 years old, who were taken to hospitals, churches, orphanages, charity houses, and family friends, leaving me as a young teenager the oldest survivor of my family.
At that time I had to come back to Rwanda, the county of my father, where I met so much tension, ethnic group hatred, confusion, frustration, injustice of all possible kind, that finally led to the unbelievable, inexplicable 1992 Genocide that showed again that me living and surviving is just miracles. It is not easy to describe the 100-days of unbelievable atrocities. The only thing I see is that I am still surviving till today. We lost more than a million people: parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, but we survived again. Personally I will never understand how it happened that I lived again. Never. They killed us in all possible unbelievable and animal ways. At that time I could not imagine that the period was just horror dreams that would eventually end. Even today I wonder if it is true we really survived, if we are living or just still dreaming to live again. This is a very long and sad and unbelievable story. Only people who lived and survived the events are able to understand.
Coming back to the survivors of the 15th and 16th massacres in 1988 in Burundi, the then babies and kids between 1 and 7 years, myself their Burundian-Rwandan cousin to their parents all killed in the massacres, became now young fathers and young mothers now parents in their turn. Today, in Burundi, there is too much tension and violence and refugees are fleeing to neighboring countries. The refugees are 95% women with their kids, sent by their husbands who prefer to stay alone in their country a strategy to keep their homes and waiting for the start of serious war. If the war becomes harsher they may decide to join their families in refugee camps in neighboring countries, but for sure many will be killed and will never see again their families. That is the reality in my opinion.
It is the same way the then kids and babies of my killed family in Burundi in 1988, are now being victims in the current horrible tensions and massacres in Burundi today. They are refugees now in Rwanda and all need my help and assistance and is their only hope. Till now, in the very small monthly rented house, I am living with my own family wife and our 3 kids, 3 mothers and their 15 kids, with another 3 mothers and their kids now still staying in camps but calling me for assistance as they are very often sick and hardly any availed food to eat.
With the rent for house, only 3 rooms + an additional very small room outside (now $200 but $275 being demanded because of the big number of refugees who have been coming and renting houses in our town), food for all, and medicines as they are very often sick, I have been trying to do my best but I am now very unable and I thought to cry and call all possible generous, human and sensitive assistances from GoFundMe community to help me save the lives of those innocent women and children in serious danger.
Please understand the echo of my desperate voice and lend your hand to save lives of lost innocent mothers and their kids.
FUNDs needed to survive one year:
Shelter (one year leases): 7 families x $200/month x 12 months = $16,800
Food: $1/day x 365 days x 35 people = $12, 775
Medicine: $300/family = $2,100
DonationsSee top donations
- Steven Doll
- Adam Hill
- Erica Hill
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more