In our increasingly interconnected world, no country is truly able escape the momentum of global change and remain unaffected by events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. With the situation continuing to worsen everywhere, nations such as Burundi have found themselves unable to purchase the medical equipment necessary to detect, monitor, and resist the disease.
Located in the heart of Africa, the Republic of Burundi is a deeply impoverished nation whose national medical services are inadequate, underfunded, and too-often inaccessible. Given its vital strategic role as a link between the east and central regions of the continent, Burundi represents the front line of the fight against COVID-19 in Africa. Similar to the successful containment strategy used for the recent Ebola outbreak in the region, stopping the spread here could potentially save countless lives in nearby Rwanda, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
To do so, Burundi needs our help in purchasing face masks, medical protection outfits, and COVID-19 testing kits for its front line nurses and doctors. Our charity, the Tujenge Africa Foundation, has partnered with logistics experts to acquire certified and proven products for immediate delivery to Burundian hospitals in desperate need. We’ll use every dollar raised in this campaign to purchase wholesale medical supplies and deliver them to the Burundian Ministry of Health to reduce the strain of COVID-19 on Burundi’s already overburdened healthcare system.
Developing nations like Burundi are always the most vulnerable to global catastrophes such as pandemic and recession. At present, the country only has around 24 quarantined ICU beds, and medical facilities outside of major cities are sparse. But if we act quickly, then the country can flatten the curve and slow or stop the spread of the disease at the border. It’s important to remember that in places like Burundi, where the population already lives on a knife-edge, deaths from COVID-19 compound those from accident, starvation, and economic misfortune.
That’s why it’s so important for all of us to work together and fight for the world’s most vulnerable people. For many of us, this may be the first time we’ve been unable to go outside, access reliable information, and live without fear of disease. This is the everyday reality in Burundi, where COVID-19 will certainly lead to profound loss of life if we forget our empathy, compassion, and love.
Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world and its 11.7 million people survive mostly on subsistence agriculture. Given its geostrategic location and extreme vulnerability, and due to our own connections and experiences within its borders, the Tujenge Africa Foundation believes that the contributions we can collect will have the maximum impact here.
· Burundi is one of the most densely populated nations in the world
· Burundi also has one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in the world, with just 1 medical professional available for every 20,000 citizens
· 1 in 20 Burundian children die before the age of 5, many from preventable and treatable illnesses such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria
· The country only has about two dozen quarantine-ready intensive care units, while most of the population cannot easily access medical assistance due to poor roads and mountainous terrain
· 48% of Burundi’s national income consisted of foreign aid in 2015
· Burundi’s poverty rate is greater than 70%, and Burundi ranks 185th out of 189 countries included in the 2018 Human Development Index
What We’re Buying:
Under advisory from the Burundian Ministry of Health and in consultation with the World Health Organisation office in Burundi, we will be purchasing the following items with raised funds to maximize our impact:
· IgG-IgM COVID-19 Rapid Response Testing Kits
· CE (European Union) certified KN95 face masks
· Medical personal protection equipment (PPE)
Purchasing and Logistics
Considering the extraordinary times, normal purchasing and logistics are generally unavailable to relatively inaccessible regions such as Central Africa. Moreover, numerous brokers, middlemen, and profiteers are exploiting the global crisis to drive up prices, spread false information, and pawn off faulty, uncertified, and unqualified products.
As a registered a 501(c)(3) charity, the Tujenge Africa Foundation will organise all in-country activities with full transparency and diligence. All equipment shall be delivered directly to the Burundian Ministry of Health in a process that leaves behind a clear and complete paper-trail, so that doctors on the front line can have full confidence in the testing and protective equipment they use.
Suppliers, Sourcing, and Logistics:
Currently, there are three general types of equipment manufacturers operating in China: 1) Government-run firms; 2) huge, specialised corporations; and 3) repurposed factories that produce uncertified equipment unsuitable for export.
Around the world, price-gouging profiteers and scammers have been stealing genuine certificates from the first two groups and using them to sell products made by the last type. Most buyers are unaware of having been duped as they are unable to travel to China to validate local conditions. The expertise of our partners in this field is allowing Tujenge Africa Foundation to efficiently transform donated dollars into real lifesaving medical equipment delivered to the people who need it the most.
We will purchase and fly supplies to Burundi incrementally as each donation milestone is achieved. We expect the first round of equipment donations to arrive in Burundi in early May, with a second round to arrive in early June. If the campaign is very successful, we hope to expand our network of recipients to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. All costs from source to delivery will be paid for by donations, with a clear bill of sale and receipt released at time of purchase.
Importantly, the physical presence of the Tujenge Africa Foundation in Burundi will allow us to ensure that everything reaches its intended destination. We will be carefully documenting the arrival and distribution of equipment. Regular updates and photos will be posted to this GoFundMe as our initiative advances. With your support, we also hope to work with the international press and raise awareness of the vulnerability of Burundi and Africa to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tujenge is in a unique position to be able to effectively manage this campaign, and were able to identify these issues, realize the potential for change, and recognise our ability to help. Tujenge is an active charity currently working in Burundi, and we are turning to our global network of partners to enact this campaign. Through our network, our key strengths include:
· Direct contact to equipment manufacturers in China
· Expertise in global cargo options to Burundi, as well as in-country distribution
· A track record of human-centered, impact-driven charitable projects in Burundi by an organization that is fully compliant with US transparency and reporting requirements
· Private support from local politicians and firm buy-in from government ministers
Tujenge Africa Foundation
Tujenge Africa Foundation is a global non-profit with its primary base of operations in Burundi. The foundation is registered as a 501(c)(3) charity in the US focused primarily on educational interventions for Burundian youth. The organization seeks to create empathetic institutions that truly understand the plight of the impoverished, as well as anyone who might experience discrimination or marginalization based on ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, religion or creed, and area of residence.
The foundation’s primary initiative, the Tujenge Scholars Program, is a leadership and peacebuilding incubator, as well as an academic bridge program for highly talented Burundian youth to transition to university study. Program alumni are currently studying around the world at top-tier institutions and constitute a global network across four continents and twelve different countries.
The decision for Tujenge Africa Foundation to pursue this relief project stems from the recognition that education is impossible without a healthy population. With classes canceled around the world, Tujenge students and alumni alike are involved in this campaign, getting the opportunity to put their global leadership skills into action.
“It is in these worst of times that we truly need the best of humanity. Let us pray that the world can find the strength to be compassionate. Let us hope that the world can understand the power of empathy. Let us act in way that fills the world with the spirit of cooperation.”
– Etienne Mashuli, Co-Founder of the Tujenge Africa Foundation
Please help us fight COVID-19 in Burundi! Your contributions are what make a project like this possible.
A donation of $10 will allow us to purchase one test kit
A donation of $20 will allow us to purchase protective equipment for one doctor
A donation of $70 will allow us to purchase twenty KN95 face masks
Please donate now and be a part of this crucial, lifesaving mission!