The FJFP was one of the main sponsors for the construction of the hospital. It initially focused (in 2007 and 2008) on building roads, setting up the maternity ward, the children's ward and the internal medicine ward. It also enabled the hospital to acquire x-ray equipment. In addition, it has provided various forms of technical support; the 'Energy Assistance' unit of the Suez group (led by retired engineers and volunteers) has intervened on several occasions, supported by the FJFP, in order to set up electrical equipment. Since 2008, the FJFP has funded travel for doctors, nurses and specialist technicians sent out to train the hospital's medical teams; this activity continues today. From 2008 to 2010, the FJFP contributed, in partnership with the NGO ACTEC and the Belgian Government (NGO co-financing), to the construction of the paramedical school Saint Michel for the training of nursing staff, in particular to fill the hospital's need for specialist staff; inaugurated at the start of the 2010 school year, this school is an integral part of the REMA hospital complex. From 2010 to 2015, the FJFP contributed to the financing of operating costs, particularly salaries of nurses and doctors, as these budget items are difficult to finance under conventional cooperation projects. It is doing so in the hope that the Burundi Ministry of Health will be in a position to cover more personnel costs in the future.
In 2014, a water drilling project (study + implementation) was carried out in order to reduce REMA hospital's energy consumption. In 2015, the implementation of a computerised management system for the hospital, to reinforce the management of resources and patients, was started.
REMA hospital today :
With a capacity of 110 beds, REMA hospital serves the population of the province of Ruyigi and that of several neighbouring provinces. Its aim is to provide quality healthcare accessible to the whole community, particularly to the most destitute. As a registered facility, it practises the government policy of free healthcare for children under the age of five, for pregnant women and for childbirth. In addition to the hospital itself, it has a centre for maternal and child health and a paramedical school. These different activities form the 'socio-medical' facet of Maison Shalom. The hospital employs some 126 people including six doctors and about fifty nurses. It is the only hospital in the eastern region of Burundi with a neonatal ward. It has a well-equipped and functional operating theatre which makes it a referral hospital. It is important to remember that the FJFP is one of the few partners which regularly contributes to the functioning of the hospital, given the lack of resources at the disposal of the Burundi government authorities.
In 2014, the Ministry of Health classified the EPM St Michel as the best paramedical school in Burundi from the point of view of infrastructure, equipment and quality of teaching.
Unfortunately, recent events have decided otherwise.
Since late April 2015, and despite many national and international efforts for peace, Burundi is facing a major political and security crisis, terrorizing civilians and raising fears of another genocide.
This situation has caused a large flow of refugees to neighbouring countries, especially Rwanda, Tanzania and the DRC. There are currently more than 250,000 Burundian refugees in various camps. In Rwanda specifically, the Mahama camp (in the east of the country) currently has 51,555 refugees and Kigali hosts around 26,400 refugees. Over 60% of these Burundian refugees are young people aged from 1 to 25 years.
As one of the 10 Organisations of the Burundian Civil Society suspended by the authorities in Bujumbura, accused of being an "agent of insurgence", Maison Shalom has seen their property confiscated by the authorities (including vital infrastructure such as the REMA Hospital and frozen bank accounts) and their staff threatened, prosecuted and even forced to leave the country. Neutral by nature, Maison Shalom has not committed any act of insurgence and is being persecuted by the regime due to their stance on human rights and defence of democratic standards so as not to ethnicise the Burundian conflict and avoid any form of genocide.
Without justification, the Burundian government ordered the suspension of Maison Shalom and of all its activities in November 2015. The hospital was therefore closed down and all staff made redundant. In February 2016, local authorities seized the hospital and reopened it by force, appointing a new director. Maison Shalom, the sole owner of the hospital, has strongly denounced this illegal appropriation.
Currently present in Rwanda, Maison Shalom was recognised as an international NGO in September 2015 and has since refocused its activities to support refugees, in particular women and children. Three main projects are being developed: (1) help and psychological support for refugees, (2) economic rehabilitation for families, (3) education for young unaccompanied children and higher education for more mature students (academic & professional).
The JFP Foundation has supported the installation of Maison Shalom in Rwanda and has since 2016 been supporting the "training of higher education students", please see Rwanda Project.