ASASS: Improving communities and empowering youth

After forty years of war, what does Burundi have in store for its youth and the communities in which they live? There is a lot of peace, reconciliation and development to catch up on in order to build a nation which can empower and nurture a generation of future leaders (Bangayimbaga & Timpson, 2015).

These provide a way to empower the future leaders in setting up organisations that may satisfy their needs and lead to a better quality of life. These organisations should have the capacity to strengthen the aptitudes of the youth, improve their health and also the environment in which they live. ASASS (Association pour la Solidarité et l’Assistance Socio-Sanitaire) is the organisation set up in the Republic of Burundi to respond these needs. It is an indigenous non-profit Non-Governmental Organization with more than 30 active individuals and 10 national organisations as members, whose main role is to improve community health as well as all the lives that were affected by the conflicts.

This is to say, ASASS was formed by a group of youth from Burundi whose lives had been badly scarred by the years of genocide and war. They decided that instead of waiting for the Government to carry out the entire burden for help the youth; they could create an NGO to do this. Their aim is to have a single united and self-reliant family living together in one world. ASASS wills to achieve their goals through saving lives, empowering communities and transforming the lives of young people to become future leaders not only in Burundi but in Africa and the world over.

Over the past 25 years, the number of NGOs in Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa has dramatically increased, and several of the divisions between NGOs and Government are no longer visible due to their now close working relationships (Hearn, 2007). So, what is different about ASASS Burundi?

The results of an analysis made on the relationships between NGOs show that, according to Hulme and Edwards (Banks, Hulme, & Edwards, 2015), NGOs should provide a bridge between the grassroots and the nation’s structures. They should be the backbone of civil society organisations and that their work should be an incentive for social change. This is the kind of role that ASASS Burundi is looking at.

ASASS looks at human rights, justice, education, health, equal opportunities (no discrimination on race, creed or sex) and sustainable livelihood. It currently operates as guided by the following objectives;

  1. To eradicate poverty and injustice by ensuring the right to access what people and communities need.
  2. Improve Hygiene and Sanitation; provide innovative and practical opportunities for manual scavengers and sanitation workers to seek alternative and dignified livelihoods in the sanitation and hygiene sector.
  3. Promote education at all levels for all children and women by building schools and furnishing them with materials, trained teachers, as well as granting scholarships.
  4. Promote the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in health, education, agriculture and in rural areas for peace and development.
  5. Protect the environment and fight against hunger, malnutrition and disorders due to micronutrient deficiency.
  6. Fight against violence and advocate for universal Human Rights, especially for women and children.
  7. Promote healthcare and prevention by constructing clinics, treatment and advocate for the improvement of the policy environment and service delivery.
  8. Fight against HIV / AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and other diseases and advocate for Sexual, Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).
  9. Promote freedom and liberty by making available spaces for dialogue and by promoting access to information in rural areas via radio and television created to raise awareness.
  10. Empower and reinforce communities to realise their potential, their rights and their development through microfinance and technical training.

ASASS has provided a platform for collaborations between NGOs and volunteers as well as a platform for global partnership between private and public sector. It is governed by an Executive Committee, made up by a Board of Directors with a strong international membership, representatives from the Government as well as representatives from leading NGOs in Burundi. The members come from various sectors such as health, education, environment, technology and business. This has enabled the growth of the organisation in all the major areas, in order to keep it dynamic and relevant to the population it serves.

Ultimately, ASASS members are aware that the effort is accompanied by enabling a community or organisation to achieve its goals. Hence, they invite people to be part of this noble cause. Members are not only in Burundi but all over the world.

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