PICTURES: Shipment ready for needy flood victims

A MAJOR relief effort for victims of a devastating flood in the small African nation of Burundi is in its final stages.

Selemani Ndikumana is packing hundreds of items of clothing and shoes donated by the Bendigo community into a shipping container sitting on the nature strip outside his Kennington home.

The container will travel to Melbourne later this week, where it will take a 45-day journey to a port in Tanzania. It will then go on to Burundi, arriving in mid-August. 

Mr Ndikumana will fly to Burundi to meet the shipment and manage the sale and distribution of its contents. 

He plans to sell some clothing in order to raise funds to buy equipment and supplies to help the flood relief effort. Other clothing will be given straight to families who lost their clothes in the flood.

Floods hit the small nation in February killing more than 100 and destroying homes.

All Mr Ndikumana's relatives are in Burundi but are safe and well. "They are lucky because we're here and we support them. The little we get, we send over to make a difference," Mr Ndikumana said.

Our country is very poor and many people cannot afford food. - Selemani Ndikumana

He said it had been an exhausting process to collect, package and load so many items.

He has lost five kilograms because of the stress.

He said the government in Burundi was not doing much to help its people in their hour of need. 

"The government is corrupt.They take the money they receive from charity organisations and keep it for themselves," he said.

"Our country is very poor and many people cannot afford food."

He said neighbours had been friendly and helpful in their efforts to support his relief operation.

He said his children were all involved in helping, especially his two eldest who helped with the heavy lifting. The smaller children had the job of sorting through clothing.

Burundian friends Edward Misigaro and Jerome Gwasa came from Melbourne on Sunday to help load 200-kilogram packages of clothing into the shipping container. 

Mr Misigaro said his sister had lost her home.

Mr Gwasa was in Burundi when the flood hit and said heavy rain had come at night when many were sleeping.

OPERATION: Mr Ndikumana at work.

OPERATION: Mr Ndikumana at work.

TEAM: Mr Ndikumana (right) with four of his children and two friends.

TEAM: Mr Ndikumana (right) with four of his children and two friends.

LITTLE HELPERS: Australia, 5 and Sultanat, 4. Pictures: JODIE DONNELLAN

LITTLE HELPERS: Australia, 5 and Sultanat, 4. Pictures: JODIE DONNELLAN

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