The Burundi Community Association of Maine

Thierry Mugabe

The Burundi Community Association of Maine (BCAM), a nonprofit, is led by Thierry Mugabe and an executive committee. The association holds elections every two years. BCAM is community centered, with a focus on offering social, financial, and emotional support. Much activity revolves around weddings, funerals, graduations, and other similar events, and includes fundraising to support these occasions. Approximately 1,000 Burundians live in Maine, according to the census created by the association. Most are in the greater Portland area, including Windham, and some now live in the Lewiston/Auburn area as well. All Burundians are automatically included in the group, and have access to services. Additionally, people can sign up for membership, and members are able to join the two WhatsApp groups maintained by the association.   

BCAM did not hold in-person public events this past year due to the pandemic, however community members have remained supportive of each other. The leadership team asked anyone who needed help during COVID-19 to call, and provided services such as grocery shopping and assistance filling out unemployment claims. Leaders used the WhatsApp groups to let people know about services that were available. An example was an opportunity for free lunches for children – the leaders sent out the announcement to parents after they’d translated it into Kirundi, and if parents didn’t respond, they followed up with a personal phone call. 

With spring here, the community is looking forward to outdoor sports, including soccer games between Burundians and Rwandese, intended to bring people together again. Independence Day is July 1. No one knows if a big celebration will be possible, but all are hoping. 

Contact: Thierry Mugabe, [email protected]