Arlington Curves funds house for African war widow
August 27, 2008 · Updated 5:24 PM
ARLINGTON Asenata Nkenguburundi is a survivor of ethnic cleansing in the African nation of Burundi, and Arlington resident Carol Sluys wants to build her a house.
Sluys, co-owner of the Arlington Curves, is working with the Sister Connection non-profit organization to fund the construction of a house for Asenata, a homeless Burundian war widow whos caring for five of her grandchildren, who were either orphaned or abandoned by their parents as a result of their countrys ethnic cleansing.
After a 12-year civil war that left thousands dead, Burundi finally became peaceful enough in late 2004 for Sister Connection to begin lending aid to the countrys war widows, many of whom were raped and beaten and lost children in addition to husbands.
Sluys frequently supports charity campaigns, especially during the holidays, but this year she wanted her donations to be more lasting and meaningful. When she learned of the plight of Burundi war widows, her heart went out to them, and Asenata in particular.
Widows are despised in Burundian culture, Sluys said. Without husbands, they have no advocacy, no jobs, nothing. Asenata is caring for five grandkids, some of whom were simply pawned off onto her by her daughters, and they all sleep under a tarp at night.
Asenata lives in Nyamitanga, in the province of Cibotike. She and her husband escaped Burundi with their lives during the ethnic cleansing, but he was killed when they reentered the country. Even though her health is deteriorating, she has been shunned by her seven adult children, in a manner that Sluys described as far too common.
Sluys explained that the monies raised for Asenata would go to local builders to construct a house thats no better or worse than the standard for her community.
Her neighbors have dirt floors and running water, so thats what shell have, Sluys said. They cant risk setting her above the community, because that would stigmatize her.
Asenatas cinder-block house, with its tile and metal roofing, will cost approximately $500, a cost so low that its inspired Sluys to raise enough money to build more than one house for the Burundian war widows.
Sluys urged those interested in pitching in to contact her by phone at 360-474-0199, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at the Arlington Curves, located in Suite 105 on 20265 74th Ave. NE in Arlington. Sister Connections Web site is located at www.sisterconnection.org.