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Being on the side of community

by Gloria J.

Flaming Chalice International (FCI) is an organization that invests in the future of refugees and communities in Rwanda and Burundi. Spirit in Action (SIA) has been a crucial partner in their community work for the past two years.

Last year, SIA provided a grant that allowed FCI to revise and further support its programming. Through SIA support, FCI has been able to cover the salaries of three people who ensure that all work is implemented. It also covered office rent at the Bujumbura and Rutuna offices, administrative costs, water, electricity, and communication charges.

“FCI is one of our new multi-year grant partners,” explains Tanya Cothran, Executive Director of Spirit in Action. “SIA has said up-front that we will fund them for three years in a row. These multi-year grants are part of our move to assure more stability for the partner organizations.” FCI has told us that other donors feel confident in entrusting more resources because SIA had already placed trust in them.

The local secretary for FCI is Manassé (pictured middle). He connects with the community members and makes sure everyone feels welcome in the community center space.

Recording Successes

FCI has recorded and felt substantial changes in its advancement. Their accomplishments include:

  • Community Center- FCI built the community center, equipped with solar panels, where the community can gather, charge their phones, and buy small items needed at home. It has become a central place, earning the name Muhira, which means home.

  • Refugee support- People are still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. FCI stepped up and continued to support shelter, food, and education.

  • Education- FCI defied norms by sending a young mother to university. Aline has recently graduated with a degree in economics and raised three children as she studied! Aline’s fee was three times the usual cost, but FCI saw this as an opportunity to show that being a mother does not mean the end of your ambition.

  • Supporting Women- FCI’s work has also encouraged social justice by giving a voice and dignity to the vulnerable population. The women in Rutuna have been able to gain income and, therefore, financial independence through the women’s project. Their defy the norm scholarship has changed the lives of two families by securing access to education.

Women gather together at the FCI community centre in Burundi. They gather to talk, share, and learning together.

Learning and Dreaming

The most significant opportunity for growth and understanding in any situation comes through challenges. While FCI has had great wins, they have grown and learned from some of the challenges faced. One of the hurdles was that they did not have enough resources to cater to the community’s needs. For example, when a household was in desperate need of food or a child suddenly fell ill. They decided to set up an emergency line in their budget to help bridge that gap, beginning with $500 this year.

FCI has grasped that communities have their rhythm, and it needs to learn to go at the community’s speed. More importantly, it is to engage with the community because things happen in community that need to be factored into the program design. The community is resilient and resourceful; being on their side is what FCI and SIA are here to do.

The year 2021 has seen outstanding accomplishments by FCI in partnership with SIA. This year can only be seen as a year of significant strides and more remarkable growth, benefiting the community.

*Flaming Chalice International is one of the organizations that will be featured at our virtual gathering on March 27th. Please register here to join us and see this exciting work in action!*

Yannick Horimbere is a refugee from Burundi who lives in Kigali, Rwanda. Flaming Chalice International supported his training as a chef. He was working on a catering project when COVID hit. He is now running a café that employs 6 people. COVID has slowed things down, but he hopes business will improve as soon as people can meet again in bars and restaurants.


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