“First ladies are the silent architects of compassion, weaving a tapestry of hope for the underprivileged. In their endeavours, they build bridges to better healthcare and education, creating pathways to a brighter Africa.”
– Grace Machel
Former First Lady of Mozambique and South Africa.
In the realm of global leadership, first ladies play a pivotal but often overlooked role as architects of compassion. Grace Machel’s words echo the transformative power wielded by figures such as Her Excellency Angeline Ndayishimiye, the esteemed First Lady of Burundi. At the helm of the Bonne Action UMUGIRANEZA Foundation, she is crafting a tapestry of hope for the underprivileged, fostering better healthcare, education, and pathways to a brighter Africa through her unwavering compassion for vulnerable communities.
Her Excellency, Angeline Ndayishimiye had built a successful professional career at the Airport Freight Management Company, SOBUGEA (Société Burundaise de Gestion des Entrepôts et d’Assistance des Avions en Escale), where she demonstrated her abilities by moving up the ranks to become Manager, Administrative and Financial Director. However, upon assuming the role of First Lady of Burundi when her husband was elected President of Burundi in 2020, she established the Bonne Action UMUGIRANEZA Foundation with the overall goal of aiding the most underprivileged individuals and making a contribution to the promotion of Health and Education Sectors in Burundi to honour her social obligations better.
Acknowledging the impactful initiatives of global first ladies, the Centre for Economic and Leadership Development (CELD) UK annually hosts the exclusive First Ladies on a Mission Roundtable Session to highlight their socioeconomic impact and developmental efforts. This special session informs attendees and viewers around the world about the admirable initiatives and social courses that First Ladies of Nations have taken on, as well as the effects these initiatives have had on their countries’ citizens. The session has hosted several global First Ladies, including Ghana, Panama, Kenya, Niger, Timor Leste, South Africa, Chile, Nigeria, Burundi, Trinidad and Tobago, etc.
The Centre for Economic and Leadership Development (CELD) and Amazon Watch Magazine (AWM) hosted the most recent First Ladies on a Mission Roundtable Session during the Global Power Women Conference (GPWC) 2023, renowned as the prestigious global convocation of women leaders, which held on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) New York. The event, which brought together several global women leaders, including H.E. Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, the President of Kosovo, the HE Angeline Ndayishimiye, First Lady of Burundi, H.E. Mellisa Santokhi-Seenacherry, First Lady of Suriname, global directors and CEOs of international organizations, also served as a platform for the Annual First Ladies on a Mission Roundtable Session.
During her presentation, HE Angeline Ndayishimiye, First Lady of Burundi, emphasized the role of the Office of the First Lady for Development and the Bonne Action UMUGIRANEZA Foundation in enhancing the well-being of the population. The foundation’s initiatives range from the “zero malnutrition” program for children under five to high-level forums for women leaders and the National School Food Program, demonstrating a commitment to address cultural barriers that marginalize women.
Her speech reads.
“The Office of the First Lady for Development and the Bonne Action UMUGIRANEZA Foundation support the government in improving the population’s well-being, with a particular emphasis on women, children, young people, and the elderly. They have initiated several community programs and activities, including the “zero malnutrition” program for children under five, high-level forums for women leaders, and the National School Food Program. They also support Burundian youth through awareness sessions and assistance visits to the most needy people, including older people and children.
The foundation focuses on addressing cultural barriers that often marginalize women, such as obstetric fistula. They have carried out awareness and screening campaigns, extended the Urumuri Center, and addressed issues such as obstetric fistula management, infertility, menstrual hygiene, and mental health. They have introduced the first fertility centre in the country, the UMUGIRANEZA Polyclinic, and a medical centre for listening and psychosocial care.
The ultimate goal of these actions is to transform lives and restore smiles and dignity to the population they serve. The foundation hopes their actions inspire many women and girls who look to their elders.” — END
Furthermore, it is always easy to ignore significant individuals such as the first ladies who put in many hours of labour behind the scenes in the frequently glamorous field of politics where leaders take centre stage.
Beyond the glamour of political stages, first ladies like Her Excellency Angeline Ndayishimiye continue to champion impactful changes. The Bonne Action UMUGIRANEZA Foundation’s testimonials from beneficiaries and participants echo the profound impact on various facets of Burundian society, from healthcare to education.
Her vision extends beyond rhetoric, evident in testimonials from beneficiaries.
Dr. Yogesh Agarwal, an eye surgeon, expressed gratitude for the foundation’s support in conducting free eye surgeries. Therese Nzeyimana credited the ‘zero malnutrition’ program with saving her family, while Evelyne Uwimana highlighted the life-altering impact of the obstetric fistula awareness campaign.
Sophie Manirakiza, a patient at the UMUGIRANEZA Polyclinic, testified to the invaluable support during challenging times, emphasizing the foundation’s dedication to women’s health. Claude Jean Niyonzima recognized the profound impact of the National School Food Program on his children’s lives, emphasizing the foundation’s investment in the future.
Emmanuel Ndayisaba, a youth participant, acknowledged the foundation’s role in providing direction and purpose, echoing Tian Wei’s sentiment that a society harnessing the energy of its women gains a competitive advantage in the modern world. Her Excellency Angeline Ndayishimiye stands as a beacon, building bridges and harnessing energy for a better world.
“I’m an eye surgeon; one of the team members from India was invited to conduct free eye surgeries for patients from Burundi. I am very thankful to the First Lady of the Country and Mr. Roland director of ALCEM, who invited us to give free services in your country,” – Dr. Yogesh Agarwal.
“The ‘zero malnutrition’ program has been a lifesaver for my family. My youngest, who used to struggle with malnutrition, is now healthy and thriving. I’m grateful for the support from the UMUGIRANEZA Foundation,” – Therese Nzeyimana.
According to Evelyne Uwimana, the campaign’s beneficiary for obstetric fistula awareness: “Words cannot describe how appreciative I am of the obstetric fistula awareness campaign. I was able to get quick medical attention thanks to it, and I’m now recovering. In actuality, the foundation has altered my life.”
Also, a patient in the UMUGIRANEZA Polyclinic, Sophie Manirakiza, testified, “During a trying period in my life, the UMUGIRANEZA Polyclinic gave me the support and care I needed.” I value the foundation’s dedication to the health and welfare of women.
“Participating in the National School Food Program has had a profound impact on my kids’ lives. Not only do they get wholesome meals, but they also concentrate better in class. We appreciate the UMUGIRANEZA Foundation’s investment in the future of our kids.” – Claude Jean Niyonzima.
Emmanuel Ndayisaba, a youth participant, said, “The foundation’s youth-focused programs, such as awareness-raising events and support visits, have given us a feeling of direction and purpose.” Knowing that there is support for the younger generation is comforting.”
As we celebrate the transformative impact of Her Excellency Angeline Ndayishimiye and the Bonne Action UMUGIRANEZA Foundation, let us join hands in empowering the transformative initiatives led by First Ladies of Nations. Your support can make a real impact on healthcare, education, and social well-being.
The Amazon Watch Magazine is a premier women’s development publication committed to continually highlighting the giant strides of women from Africa and the rest of the world, dedicated to empowering, inspiring, and uniting women from diverse backgrounds. Through events, workshops, and initiatives, we strive to create a supportive community that encourages personal and professional growth for women.
The Centre for Economic Leadership and Development (CELD) is a leading human capacity, gender empowerment, and development-based organisation that sees itself as a catalyst and thought leader in developing the theory and practice of leadership, social, educational and economic empowerment, particularly in Africa, and also the developing countries of the Middle East, South America and Asia. As an organisation currently in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) since 2012, we strive to advance our partnership with public and private sector organisations at different stages to develop, refine and effectively execute strategies that deliver superior corporate/institutional excellence. We empower the men and women folk for peak performance.