Massive Fire Destroys Economic Heart of Burundi

Do you know much about the country of Burundi? Until recently, neither did I. Burundi is one of the smallest countries in Africa and is about the size of Maryland. The population of Burundi is 10.5 million. In comparison, according to the July 2012 U.S. Census Bureau, the state of Maryland has a population of about 5.8 million. Burundi is also one of the five poorest countries in the world with approximately 80% of its citizens living in poverty. According to the World Food Programme, 56.8% of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition.

CSI has learned that a massive fire burned down the Central Market Place in the capital, Bujumbura. This was the epicenter of the nation’s economy. Nearly 4 million dollars a day was generated through the sale of food, clothing, manufactured goods, construction materials, along with other equipment and products. So just how devastating was this fire? It is similar to the destruction of Wall Street in the U.S.A.

As the fire blazed flames shot more than 60 feet into the air while a thick cloud of ash and smoke settled over the area. The local fire department was just no match for an inferno of this magnitude. The neighboring country of Rwanda assisted by providing military helicopters that released loads of water from the air but it wasn’t enough to quench the flames. The entire marketplace was destroyed.

Shop owners watched in horror as their livelihood burned to the ground. Many also kept their life savings in their shops as only 2% of the population have bank accounts. It is estimated that only 10% of shop owners have insurance which will make any effort to rebuild their shop impossible. One woman with her baby strapped to her back ran into the blaze, so desperate to not to lose her life savings that was in her shop. Tragically they both died in the fire.

As Peter Greer said, “Individuals in poverty suffer most during crisis. Though everyone is affected by natural disasters or catastrophes, those in poverty have the least ability to cope with sudden loss.”

The Burundian people are very poor (average per capita income is $600/year), this has brought tremendous hardship upon them.

Compassion Services International wants to help the people of Burandi. We have contacts on the ground who are waiting for relief support. You can help by donating to our Disaster Relief Fund. Just visit and click on our donate now link. Any amount is appreciated. Together let’s put our Compassion In Action and help those who are suffering in Burandi.

1st Quarter 2013

It is hard to believe that the first quarter of 2013 is already over. Like most of you Compassion Services International likes to set goals at the first of each year. Goals that with the help of our supporters we know together we can achieve.

During the first quarter of 2013 many have continued to answer the call to help victims in Africa with donations to our End Hunger Fund. There are still many who live with the knowledge that they do not have enough to eat. The fact that unless a miracle happens they will not be able to feed their families in Burkina Faso, Malawi and other areas in Africa. Because of your support we have been able to send funds for the purchase of grain to our contacts on the ground. This grain is then distributed in the neediest areas. Thank you again for putting your compassion in action.

The first quarter also heard the call to help Cyclone Nilam victims in Sri Lanka, flood victims in Nigeria and those in Bangladesh suffering from the coldest temperatures the area had faced in many years. Your faithful support allowed CSI to send aid to area missionaries who were able to help those in greatest need in each of these areas. You are making a difference in the lives of so many because of your generosity.

We were also excited to announce the launch of our new website. Same address but a brand new look. We hope that you have enjoyed the transformation. Remember to visit our website for the latest information.

In February we held our annual Compassion Sunday offering. This is an annual offering where CSI raises money for our General Fund. By having our General Fund at a surplus we are able to respond quickly whenever disaster strikes. When an emergency situation happens we do not want to wait to act. When you donate to our General Fund you make it possible for CSI to respond quickly and get the needed aid to those who need it most. Thank you for your support. There is still time to help us get our Emergency Fund ready! You can donate by visiting our homepage and clicking the donate now link.

In March, we were able to set up a booth at the Urshan College Music Arts Festival. By attending these events we are able to reconnect with current supporters and spread the message of what CSI is all about and what we are doing in the world. It gives us the chance to recruit new volunteers for the team. We appreciate these times to get out and see our supporters face to face and meet the new supporters. I even had the chance to see one of our Haiti 2012 team members, Amber Glass, while at the conference.

Me and Amber Glass at Urshan

We love staying connected so be sure to follow us on facebook, twitter, pinterest and linkedin. You can also join our mailing list by visiting our homepage and clicking on the contact us link.
Once again we thank you for your prayers and support. The work that CSI accomplishes could not happen without you. Together we can do great things!