BUJUMBURU, Burundi—Christa was just one week old when her mother died. Her mother had fallen into a pit latrine, and although she was rescued, Christa's mother died shortly after the incident.
At the time, Christa's future looked very bleak. She was left in the care of her poor, elderly grandmother, who struggled to put food on the table for her granddaughter. With about 8 in 100 children dying before age 5, Burundi has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world.
When no one was left to care for baby Christa, she was welcomed into a loving family at one of the five SOS Children’s Villages in the country. There are currently 660 orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children growing up at an SOS Village in Burundi.
Today, Christa is a talented, 18-year-old woman with a bright future. She is currently enrolled at the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School in Bujumbura. “I want to become a journalist someday,” she says.
Christa at 5 years old at the SOS Village (left); Christa at 9 years old with her older SOS Sister (right).
As a young girl, she said she liked playing hopscotch, jumping rope and playing hide and seek with her SOS Brothers and Sisters. Now she’s interested in basketball, her interest influenced in part by her tall stature.
Although Christa is thriving at the SOS Village, she can’t help but think of her biological family that she never knew.
“I have no biological father or mother and no family relationship outside of my SOS family,” she says. “I spend the holidays with my SOS Mother, but it would be great to know who I really am.”
Roughly 610,000 children in Burundi are orphans. In addition to the high number of children who have been orphaned by AIDS, many more have been abandoned by their parents due to poverty. As a result, Burundi is also home to thousands of homeless children who roam the streets either alone or in groups.
More than 80,000 children like Christa are growing up today in loving SOS Families across 570 SOS Villages. Founded in 1949, SOS Children’s Villages builds families for orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children in 134 countries, including the United States.
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