About Burundi

Burundi and Rwanda share much common history, the same ethnic groups, and both experienced intense trauma during the 1994 genocide. Thousands were massacred. Women were abused and left destitute, children left orphaned and homeless. (related movie: Hotel Rwanda)

Touch the Nations founder, Katja Starkey, first visited Burundi in 1999, and met a remarkable woman, known by the street children as “Mama Bread.” Katja was invited to help in feeding the famished children she had been reaching out to with the little resources she had. Every child was given 2 bread rolls. After being severely mistreated, this gesture was the very beginning of trust. Katja could not forget that experience, so when she returned to her teaching career in Omaha, Nebraska in 2003, she saved one third of her salary to purchase an orphanage and officially start a 501c3. Mama Bread, who had founded the Guilgal Center in 1997, was pouring herself out to encourage and support people who had been orphaned and widowed by war. Katja knew she had to get behind this local Burundian woman and help make her visions come true.

Our Practical Work

Touch the Nations provides shelter, food, care and education for children who are orphaned, as well as skills training for those who have finished school or did not have the opportunity to attend school. We provide corrugated sheet metal for roofs when youth who lost their parents in the genocide have first built a two room mud brick house by hand. We provide micro-loans and skills training for widows so they can sustain themselves.

Get Involved

Can you commit to $35 a month to support a child? "Mama Bread" can invite an orphan off the street with a committed sponsor.

  • Micro-loans for widows
  • Purchasing a sewing machine for a widow to open her own sewing business
  • Purchase cooking supplies for a widow to open a kiosk mini-restaurant
  • Skills training for older orphans, such as welding, brick making or taxi driving
  • Building fund for the ‘Mini-Boystown’ in the countryside where older orphans could put their skills to use