Florent’s Story, Burundi

Photo by:by A. Nijimbere/2014

Photo by A. Nijimbere/2014

I fled Burundi in 1995, at the age of 23, because of the civil war that shook my country. As a refugee in Tanzania, I lived in very difficult conditions. In one of these pictures you can see me in sport clothing. My sports outfit was not the best. I could go for months and months without washing my socks and sneakers so that they wouldn’t wear out to quickly because it was difficult to find others.

scan0004Through a student grant from Germany’s DAFI program (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative), I had the chance to leave the camp to attend the Institute of Social Work in Dar-es-Salaam. After school and sometimes on weekends I never missed an opportunity to play football. For me, football was the best way to relax, but my priority was my studies. It was by God’s grace that I had this grant.After my studies, I returned to camp where I started to work for several organizations.

I came across the humanitarian work when I was still a refugee. From that time, I knew one day I would also help my fellow human beings because being a refugee sharpened my humanitarian spirit and commitment.

In December 2004, I returned to my native country, Burundi. With the knowledge I gained through my studies and with my experience at the refugee camp, I was able to work with different NGOs such as Health NetTPO and the Norwegian Refugee Council. In 2005 I joined the UNHCR family in the Makamba office. In April 2009, I returned to UNHCR where I am currently the Community Services Principal Assistant. I enjoy working for a dedicated humanitarian agency; I want to be a messenger of humanity.

The refugee status is not eternal. It can cease at some point. When it does, you can return to your country and rebuild your life. You can become an employee of UNHCR or the government. You can be a merchant, or a farmer.”


Florent Nizigiyimana

UNHCR Community Services Assistant, Burundi

Bujumbura, Burundi

1 family torn apart by war is too many

Learn more about our work with refugees at UNHCR.org