Meet Fr. Védaste Nkeshimana, the New Director of Service Yezu Mwiza, Burundi


The new Director of Service Yezu Mwiza (SYM), Fr. Védaste NKESHIMANA, SJ describes himself as a simple person who loves truthfulness. He would do anything in his power to avoid any form of injustice especially to the poor and vulnerable population. His liking to fully commit himself in what he does, makes many consider him as strict he says. It is not now that Fr. Védaste is working with underprivileged population. Since his childhood, he has learnt how working with vulnerable can be fulfilling. Not even formal education from many schools and colleges he has attended can equate to how much he has learnt by working and serving vulnerable population he says. “It is therefore with a great joy and with a humbled heart that I am stepping into SYM to support vulnerable population to live a full life” said Fr.Védaste.

Like any other Jesuit, Fr Védaste has passed through a Jesuit formation through the novitiate (2007-2009) before enrolling for philosophical and theological studies in Zimbabwe and Paris respectively. By pursuing his studies, Fr Védaste has learnt to live with people of different backgrounds. “I can say that I learnt what humility can be and how it is difficult to become like a child, to learn everything from anew” said Fr Védaste. Between 2013 and 2015, Fr Védaste had his time of regency in Bujumbura. His Administration and teaching skills were sharpened while serving at Ecole Fondamentale Saint Louis de Gonzague, in Bujumbura. “It is in this place that I started using all my intellectual resources to manage the school” said Fr Védaste.

Charged with the overall responsibility to oversee the general administration of SYM, Fr Védaste has no doubt that the journey will both be inspiring and challenging at the same time. “I hope to secure more funding for SYM so as to benefit more people who are in need” said Fr Védaste. He is hopeful that despite challenges embedded in the administrative, financial and socio-political aspects within the environment which SYM operates, he shall be able to enrich and sustain ongoing projects for the greater good and benefit of the project beneficiaries.

Fr Védaste sees each day that dawns as new and that every success opens up to new opportunities and challenges. He desires that he shall be able to initiate new projects to serve even more vulnerable population in Burundi. His faith uplifts Fr. Védaste every morning he wakes up. “It gives me strength for the mission to serve vulnerable lives” said Fr Védaste. It gives him confidence that God is there to make things better for His greater glory.

In Burundi, HIV prevalence rate stands at 1% among population aged between 15 and 49 years while for men alone, HIV prevalence rate stands at 0.8 % compared to women at 1.2 % (EDS B-III, 2016-2017). There are groups of population where HIV prevalence is far higher especially among Female Sex Workers at 21.3% and men having sexual intercourse with other men at 4.8 % (UNAIDS 2018). Although HIV prevalence has gone down compared to EDS 2010 results at 1.4%, it is still high in the intervention zones of SYM, especially in Mairie de Bujumbura where the prevalence is still 3.6%.

UNAIDS hopes to end AIDS epidemic by 2020 by ensuring that 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and that 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression (UNAIDS, 2018). To achieve this target, SYM continues to enhance her HIV & AIDS efforts in Lome, Togo and also by empowering vulnerable households as a result of HIV and AIDs by introducing income generating activities so as to improve livelihoods amongst these families.