Embrace is a project in Bujumbura, Burundi's biggest city, and it is a project very close to our hearts here at Bean United.
What is Embrace?
Embrace is a foundation in Burundi that creates a safe space for former street children in Bujumbura. To do so, Embrace focuses on the following aspects: education, medical care, food and events. It is the goal of embrace to support children in Burundi by getting them off the streets and into the school system. Going to school and receiving education then gives children the chance to develop the knowledge and the tools for a life with more chances and less poverty. Essential to the children's safety is medical care - Embrace supports children by paying for medication, operations and mosquito nets (e.g., to prevent malaria). Also, children at Embrace are provided with healthy meals, meaning that they can concentrate better at school and develop healthily.
Also, it is part of the core values at Embrace to be a safe space, where children can play and be themselves. With this purpose, events such as playing sports or watching a movie are organized.
At the moment, 30 children are at Embrace during the day. They come to the house in the morning, receive breakfast, go to school and get a nutritious lunch afterward. In the afternoon, they are helped with their homework and are given fruit and milk before they return home.
Visit the Embrace website here: https://embraceburundi.nl/
Embrace x Bean United
Bean United began working with Embrace in 2019 when founder Thomas visited Burundi for the first time to take part in the coffee harvest. During this visit to Burundi, Thomas was looking for a small project with a big impact which could then be supported with the help of one of Bean United's corporate customers in Germany. Via a contact in the coffee industry, Thomas was introduced to Marieke, founder of the Embrace project. So, Thomas was invited to visit the Embrace house. They spoke about how extra funding for Embrace could create an immediate impact for the children in Burundi. Marieke explained, how additional funding would, first and foremost, change the quality of food provided at Embrace and that with this funding, the children would be able to be served one warm meal a day, therefore creating social impact in Burundi on a daily basis.
Thomas then spoke to Munich RE, one of Bean United's customers in Germany, who believed in the project and decided to dedicate their €2,50 per kilogram of coffee to the Embrace project.
In cooperation with Munich RE, Embrace reached many milestones throughout the past couple of years. The funds created are mainly used for nutrition. However, part of the money is also used for measures such as buying new fire extinguishers and for healthcare (e.g., operations, medication, hospital stays). Also, in February of 2023, the vision of a new Embrace house was finally realized.
This new house is a lot safer because it is less susceptible to flooding and offers many more possibilities for the Embrace project. Keke, our Social Burundi Reporter, described the opening in the following way:
"It was great! We tasted the Burundian culture by dancing to our traditional drum which is played only during big ceremonies. Also, representatives of the government and the church in Burundi were there."
Embrace - a perfect example of visible social impact every day
What makes the Embrace project so special is how closely we communicate with Marieke and the other people at Embrace. We have regular video calls and receive updates via photos, videos and interviews. Embrace is a perfect example of how funding can be used in a caring and effective way to make a difference in the lives of individuals.
Marieke summarized the impact Embrace has on the children and their development:
"Seeing other children in our neighborhood showing signs of malnutrition and comparing them to the Embrace children growing healthy and strong, makes me sad and happy at the same time. What a privilege our kids have to receive daily nutritious food through the generosity of Munich RE and the hard work of Bean United! Together we achieve more!"
The children of Embrace - amazing and special stories
Meet Kenny: Already one of our first conversations about Embrace, Thomas told me about Kenny. Kenny was diagnosed with brittle bone disease at a very young age, meaning he is dependent upon support, operations and medical care - all provided by Embrace and the social funding also created by our social coffee.
Learning about individual life stories makes us at Bean United grateful for the amazing work at and with Embrace and we see it as a privilege to be informed about their development and to meet them in Burundi or during video calls. For Bean United, Embrace is a project that is essential to our mission for it is a project that truly creates positive change and that makes us feel the impact of our work and our purpose.