oil on canvas
40" x 30"
When Rivera Kalenzo learned that soldiers had attacked the Bucana market in Burundi, she had no time to grieve the deaths of her four eldest children. Determined to protect the remaining two, she fled to Tanzania in an attempt to escape the brutality that had long-accompanied Burundi’s civil war.
In this conflict, the designation of civilian, or even child, offers little protection to a populace subject to terror and intimidation by government forces and opposition groups alike. Hundreds of unarmed citizens are murdered each year – many shot or bayoneted to death while working their fields or taking refuge in their own homes. Children have been targeted for forcible recruitment by both government and opposition armies, and groups of more than 100 at a time have been abducted from primary schools and Tanzanian refuge camps.
Those who manage to escape from opposition groups can be subsequently arrested by government forces for “collaboration,” and may be detained for years without trial. In a nation where any side can be the enemy, desperate parents like Rivera Kalenzo have negotiated minefields on the country’s border to join the nearly half-million refugees who have sought asylum in neighboring Tanzania.
Though the overcrowded, restrictive and often dangerous refugee camps that mark their final destination may offer little more than survival, for a mother protecting the life of her child, survival is the only option.
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