Jean-Claude Kamwenubusa is the founder of ASASS and the person who has helped to make this possible. Here, we tell his story. Where he began, how he’s travelling forward and where he hopes to end up.
May, 2004, an orphan living in one of Burundi’s refuge areas made the decision to start ASASS. That Orphan was Jean-Claude Kamwenubusa. What started as a dream to provide assistance for those in need, became ASASS; an organisation which could bring hope and a future to the people of Burundi. It is now over ten years later and his dreams are really starting to become reality.
It was in 2004 that Jean-Claude and his best friend Telesphore Niyokindi created an art studio on 6th Street No 11, Bwiza. In their workshop, Jean-Claude and Telesphore worked tirelessly and produced cards, placards and images.
As the money started to come in and their hard work paid off, they began to look into how it could be used to make where they lived a better place for everyone.
The Prince Regent Charles Hospital of Bujumbura, a public national hospital, was the receiver of the first group of donations made by Jean-Claude and Telesphore. They rented a room to provide voluntary counselling and support for those with HIV/AIDS, mental health problems or suffering from malnutrition. The efforts of Jean-Claude and Telesphore were quickly noticed. On the 15th May 2005, Jean-Claude began the registration process for registering ASASS as a non-profit and on the 3rd February 2006, ASASS was registered.
The rise of an NGO
As ASASS became a registered NGO, more and more people joined the cause. Jean-Claude’s dedication to help the poor, his experience opening a counselling and psychosocial assistance centre, and establishing a sufficient source of funds, led others to believe in and follow him. ASASS is now made up of people not just from inside of Burundi, but from around the world. All of whom believe in the cause and want to see it through to completion.
Jean-Claude now dedicates nearly all of his time to ASASS; also working a part-time job to support himself, and studying online at the University of the People. For countless Burundians in need of help and support, Jean-Claude has offered them a genuine chance at a future. Without this chance, they may otherwise have been left to succumb to poverty, malnutrition and have been forgotten about.
Whilst all the projects ASASS undertakes are equally important, Jean-Claude highlights three projects which he would like to see completed as soon as possible. These are constructing a campus with a nursery school, Renewing (and building a new) health centre and expanding the already established Micro-loans cooperative for farmers and small business startups.
For Jean-Claude, education is the foundation of all development, Healthcare is a priority for all and providing the ability for families to access sustainable sources of income is important. Many people in Burundi do not have access to healthcare or jobs. These are the reasons which motivate the projects of ASASS.
A Future of Hope
For the future, Jean-Claude hopes that ASASS will continue to expand and help those in need. He wants to see the NGO’s staff capacity increase and its ability to help Burundians increase. With ASASS continuing to grow, he hopes to see the more and more international aid and partnerships. As he tells those he meets and helps, we are all “One Family on One World” and so we all need to help each other to become stronger.