Burundi Close To Home
This story has been years in the making, so prepare to travel…to Burundi. It’s 1972. Sedekia is the 6 year old son of farmers, a Tutsi father and Hutu mother, and his whole family is fleeing to Tanzania. Ethnic war is threatening their lives and now they have no other choice. They remained in a Tanzanian refugee camp until he was 26 and married to a Burundian lady whose family had also fled the violence.
They returned to Burundi in 1992 to find their land taken away; they no longer had any property rights or recourse. The following year saw the election of a new president in Burundi, his assassination, and the breakout of a new civil war which was intensified by the infamous genocide in neighboring Rwanda in 1994. By 1996 the war had reached their area and it was time to go once again. Unfortunately Tanzania had closed its borders by then; they had nowhere to go. Thankfully, after a few desperate months, they found a way across the border (on foot, of course) to a refugee camp with a UN office. That became their home until 2007; after a series of interviews with UN officials who realized this was a genuinely displaced family, they were brought to the United States.
Shortly after arriving in the US, Sedekia was placed in Memphis along with his wife and 8 daughters. He began working at Ugly Mug Coffee in a program designed especially for people in his circumstances. For the first hour of every day, he and others gather after clocking in for an ELL class (English Language Learner, formerly known as English as a Second Language). He then joins his co-workers in the production room practicing what he has learned while earning a living before going home to his family, which now includes his son born here a few months ago.
Why tell you this story? Because it matters, to us and to you. With over 800,000 smallholder coffee farmers in Burundi, it is easy to see why coffee is Burundi’s top earning cash crop. One of the key ways we can help its people get back on their feet is to support its growing coffee industry which produces fine coffee in prime growing conditions. Another way is to help them right here on our doorstep, where they are doing the best they can with what little they have.