|Central Market, Bujumbura, Burundi, January 28, 2013|
I can't even begin to comprend the tragedy that is unfolding in Burundi. Early Sunday morning fire broke out in Bujumbura's Central Market, destroying the market and, it would seem, collapsing the economy of the nation.
I did not visit the market while I was in Burundi last summer, but I understand it is the hub of commerce for the city and the nation. I found this video on YouTube, filmed in December of 2012, of a walk through the market.
According to Denise Patch of Sister Connection, "thousands of merchants have lost everything. Not just their inventory but their life savings as many stored their cash in their market boots rather than pay the high bank fees. Prices on food and clothing and household good are already skyrocketing with the now extreme scarcity of these things, and it is being said that this is a national crisis."
"Word is that many stored their life savings in their market booths to avoid high government taxes and bank fees, and suicide is claiming the most devastated. Others were killed or injured as they went into the fire to retrieve as much as they could."
"Where does Sister Connection come in?" asks Denise Patch. "We have widows in our microenterprise program who were operating their businesses in the market. We do not have word yet from our staff on any more details, but as we receive them, we will post them. Until then, please pray for our widows, for our staff, for the nation. My heart just keeps crying, 'Surely our widows know we will not abandon them, that they do not face this devastation alone. God, fill their hearts and minds with reminders of Your truth, Your peace, and let them be instruments of encouragement and healing to their fellow merchants. Let the widows rise up and lead."
Please pray for the people of Bujumbura -- for their safety, for peace in a situation that is rife with opportunities for mayhem, for wise leadership, for doctors and hospitals and others who are caring for the injured, for people who don't know the whereabouts of loved ones, for merchants and shoppers and tourists who were in the market.
The quotes from Denise Patch are from several different postings on Facebook. If you want more information, Denise will post on the Sister Connection page of Facebook as she has information. This may not become a front page story in our American newspapers, but it is huge and we must keep the people of Burundi in our thoughts and prayers.