#indundi Diaspora | The predicament faced by elderly Burundian refugees with no family
On December 23rd, 2016, the news channel KCRG-TV9 in Cedars Rapids, Iowa, reported on a 80 year old Burundian woman, Leah Barakamfitiye, who was abandoned at a Catholic Worker House because she had no family to take care of her.
Although she has eight children, including one that is blind, none of them was able to move to America with her since they all got separated during the war in Burundi. Now, she is all alone in the US and relying on the charity of strangers. She needs medical care but is unable to communicate in English. The Catholic Worker House can only keep Leah for another month, and is looking for a host family.
Unfortunately, Leah’s case is not an isolated one. There are numerous cases of senior refugees who get resettled alone, and are incapable of taking care of themselves. The case workers can only do so much. Placing the senior refugees in a retirement home is not an option due to the limited finances and the language barrier.
In those situations, what is the role of the Burundian community? Is it their duty to take care of the unattended seniors? It is an issue that the Burundian associations in the diaspora ought to discuss more.
In the meantime, Leah still doesn’t know what will become of her after the month has elapsed at the Catholic Worker House*.
* Since the story was published KCRG-TV9 aired a follow-up on January 6,2017 regarding Leah Barakamfitye’s reunion with family.