By Achel Bayisenge; Katie Hackett
As a World Vision staff member in Burundi, Marie has always been committed to helping struggling families in her country. But when she met Valentin, that commitment became more personal.
"Before I started working for World Vision, I did not know that there were people, especially kids, who could be in worse conditions than those I [had] witnessed," she says.
One day, several years ago, she was working in her office when a young boy came to speak with her.
"He was a gentle, young little boy with an innocent look," she remembers.
"Valentin was his name, and he started to talk." Valentin explained his trouble. His mother had died when a car hit her bicycle. His dad was disabled in the same accident, and could no longer provide for Valentin and his siblings.
"To make a long story short, Valentin and his other four siblings had become like motherless and fatherless orphans to the extent that his two sisters abandoned school," Valentin, on the other hand, longed to continue his studies. As a bright student, he had passed his exams and qualified for secondary school, but had been assigned to a boarding school far from home.
Without the money to pay for transportation or school fees, he had to decline. After redoing the school year in hopes of landing a spot in a high school closer to home, he had been placed in the same distant boarding school for the second time. "I [saw] how distressed he was," Marie says. "It was clear that coming to see me was the only hope he had." Marie talked it over with her colleagues.
They knew they could help him out with school supplies " books, pens and blankets for boarding school. But what he really needed was money. She decided to raise money among her colleagues, supplementing their contributions with her own funds. "Now he is in the final year [of high school], ready to go to university, and I am proud of it," Marie says.
She's seen many examples of extreme poverty in her work with World Vision, but she isn't numb to it. "Whenever I come across such situations, I am compelled to help," she says. "Working with communities in need has created in me a feeling of compassion."
Marie says. Help a child realize their full potential.Give the gift