Burundi is a country in central Africa that's struggling with political unrest, genocide and poverty. But a Grand Chute man, who once called Burundi home, believes he has the key to breaking this vicious cycle, and he hopes you'll help with the effort.
Egide Nimubona's goal in life is to give back the same generosity he received while growing up in Burundi.
"I was taken care of by missionaries who gave me new books, pens, shorts and sandals, so I became educated through the missionaries," he explains.
His 15 years as a refugee were a nightmare, but he felt compelled to go back to where he came from.
"In 2009, I went to Burundi for a visit and I saw how much destruction has happened. When I came back to Wisconsin, I couldn't really concentrate on anything."
So Egide created the Burundi Education Fund which raised $60,000 in donations in just the first year. To date, the fund has paid for the education of 250 students, the construction of a girls' dormitory and putting in a clean, safe drinking water system.
"The idea is a long term plan to make Burundi a self sufficient, fully functioning part of the family of nations you might say," said Dave Sier, who serves on the board of directors.
That's why Egide also uses the fund to bring Burundi students to Northeast Wisconsin to attend either Lourdes Academy in Oshkosh or Xavier High School in Appleton.
"I have to say, this community is very welcoming," says Jess Shaka.
Shaka arrived in the Fox Cities about a year and a half ago without knowing a word of English. With the help of his host family and others, he's now fluent with the language and excelling in his junior year classes at Xavier. He even competed in the state championship for forensics.
He says, "It's a privilege for me to be here and have all the opportunities I have here."
As an interim host parent, Keevie Bremhorst also encourages the kids to take part in community service projects, but she says the program has helped her grow as a person as well.
"It gives us an opportunity to really think outside of our own little world and make a huge impact," she explains.
Egide says experiencing the generosity, capitalism and mindset of American culture will have great benefits.
"The hope is really to try to help as many as possible so that the kids can have hope and to get out of kind of a vicious cycle of poverty."
One day, he hopes the students he has helped will take over the Burundi Education Fund to help the next generation have a brighter future.
The fund's first five students will graduate from local high schools this Spring. Egide hopes enough donations will come in to be able to send them to college in Wisconsin.