The First Lady of Burundi participates in the 8th edition of MERCK Foundation Africa Asia Luminary
Her Excellency Angeline Ndayishimiye, First Lady of Burundi, took part, on April 27th, 2021, in the 8th edition of MERCK Foundation Africa Asia Luminary conducted on a virtual platform, a conference coupled with the celebration of the 4th anniversary of the MERCK Foundation. The conference was launched by His Excellency Edgar Lungu, The President of Zambia, as a guest of honor.
In her speech, Her Excellency Angeline Ndayishimiye, said that she is satisfied with the partnership with the MERCK Foundation which, in Burundi, brings its added value in the strengthening of health care capacities, in the economic empowerment of girls and women in general.
She highlighted certain aspects which sufficiently demonstrate that the partnership with MERCK Foundation is very useful for Burundi. These include the « Educate Linda » program to support, each year, the education of 20 school girls who perform well in the secondary schools studies, a very important initiative to empower Burundian girls through education.
In partnership with the MERCK Foundation, Her Excellency Angeline Ndayishimiye, First Lady of Burundi and President of the Bonne Action- UMUGIRANEZA Foundation, gave social assistance to 100 families particularly vulnerable due to the negative impact of COVID-19, in Bujumbura City, in March 2021. These are mainly women who lived of small businesses or of precarious and informal work, but who, following the COVID-19 pandemic, were very much affected.
The First Lady welcomed the initiative called « BERNA Empowerment Program » which aims to empower infertile women, and which will soon be implemented due to the support of the MERCK Foundation.
As Ambassador of the MERCK More Than a Mother, Her Excellency Angeline Ndayishimiye organized a high-level meeting, with administrative and health officials, and Members of the Burundi Parliament in order to have a common understanding on the issue of infertility and its management approaches. The workshop aimed to break the stigma around infertile couples and empower them through access to information, education, health and mentality change.
She deplored the fact that only women are blamed to be responsible for infertility and that they are constantly subjected to physical and psychological violence, although 50% of infertility is due to men. She urged everyone to encourage men to speak up and discuss their infertility issues openly and to know that fertility is a shared responsibility.
The First Lady called on the media and those responsible for them to help in raising awareness through traditional and social media in order to create a culture change to break the stigma related to infertility and to raise awareness about its prevention.
She further reiterated her commitment to continue to work closely with the MERCK Foundation, and other African First Ladies, to promote a culture of respect for women, whether they have children or not, as they are all more than mothers. « Together, we will empower them through access to education, improved health, essential elements for socio-economic development, » she added.
As part of restoring hope and dignity to women, Her Excellency Angeline Ndayishimiye said that in August 2020, she launched a campaign to repair obstetric fistula. The Bonne Action-UMUGIRANEZA Foundation is constructing a building for the extension of the treatment and care center for women suffering from fistula.
Her Excellency Angeline Ndayishimiye praised the efforts of the Government of the Republic of Burundi in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. To support the Government’s efforts in this fight, she indicated that the “Bonne Action UMUGIRANEZA Foundation”, of which she is the chairperson, has distributed, in certain health facilities in the country, personal protective equipment against COVID- 19. This equipment was donated by Her Excellency the First Lady of the People’s Republic of China and other partners, to whom she pays a heartfelt tribute.
The First Lady of Burundi finally thanked all those who, from near or far, starting with the MERCK Foundation, supported her initiatives so that, together, they can overcome the challenges facing populations.