SAFE AND PRODUCTIVE VISIT TO BURUNDI
Notwithstanding the political unrest in Burundi, I visited Burundi in January of this year. Notwithstanding the scary reports about Burundi, I had a very good visit to Burundi.
Two days before my visit came to an end, I wrote the following e-mail message; message sent to Distribution List on Monday, January 18, 2016.
In my last newsletter, I announced that I would be going to Burundi for a short visit. I have been here for two weeks and I will be leaving in two days.
I have been able to do my business without any complications. I have met with the new Rector, Sylvain NZOHABONAYO and the Bishop, Déogratias NSHIMIYIMANA.
I have met with the project managers of our development projects and I have made onsite field visits to some of our projects.
Rector Sylvain accompanied me and two of our project managers on a field visit to two projects, both in Kabezi Commune. It was such a pleasure to have the Rector of Hope Africa University take time and interest in visiting our projects. He enjoyed talking to the women beneficiaries and he explained that he has ideas about linking field placements to some of our development projects.
Although I know that a lot of the reports outside of Burundi are scary, the verbal reports I have received inside Burundi are considerably different. I have not been frightened during my visit. I feel safe but I am cautious.
When I arrived, I was advised to stay on campus after dark. I was advised to avoid going into the areas where there has been trouble. I travel around in the daytime but I almost always have a traveling companion.
I was up-country for the past couple of days. Apart from four areas in the capital city, Bujumbura, Burundi is peaceful.
I will be posting more reports when I get back to North America.
From the simple message above, I received more responses than I have ever received from any other message or newsletter. Our Burundian friends responded saying something like, “Finally, some good news about Burundi!” Our North American friends responded stating something like, “Pleased to hear you are safe and able to do your work.” But I got the impression that they were quite surprised that I was safe and able to do my work.
DEVELOPMENT: PROJECT PROGRESS AND EXTENSION PROJECT
Savings and Loans: Christian Initiative for Women’s Development in Gatumba, Project Manager, Christine KAMIRAMEYA
Notwithstanding the political unrest and other challenges in Burundi, this Savings and Loans development project has been very successful and has started an extension project.
Gatumba is an over-crowded, poverty-stricken village 15 kilometres outside of the capital city of Bujumbura and on the way to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The purpose of the project is to use micro-financing to bring together a group of 22 in-need women for mutual support and development. Employing a participatory approach, the project provides opportunities for self-development and capacity-development, loans for income-generating activities and economic development and, thereby, provides benefits for the women and their families. Each member has signed an agreement; a social contract to support the association and its covenants. The repayment of loans and the payment of interest are designed to sustain the project and its growth into the future.
Referring to the agreement, a memorandum of understanding with the women, the last number of months has been a period of repayment of the initial loans. The loans were for a variety of income-generating activities: reselling vegetables production, oil, rice, fruit; making juice from bananas, and shop-keeping activities and other small businesses. Despite the recent political unrest in parts of Bujumbura, the project manager is glad to report that the women have been able to conduct their business and pay back their loans and interest.
During our face-to-face meeting with some of the beneficiaries in January, all the women reported that their businesses were continuing and all the women reported that the additional income from their businesses has improved their lives and the lives of their families.
Extension Development Project:
The micro-financing project always planned to start another association; start another project with the proceeds from the repaid loans. Although it was originally thought that the extension project would be another micro-financing project, it was decided to start a crops and goats project in the NYABIRABA District.
An association of 24 poor women has already been formed and elected officers; a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and two advisors. The women contributed their own money to rent a field in order to collectively grow crops. The micro-financing project provided start-up capital; a gift for buying planting potatoes and fertilizers.
The harvest will be sold to generate money for future agricultural activities and to create a savings and internal lending community (SILC) or in other words, micro-financing for members of the association pursuing income-generating activities.
In addition, the micro-financing project provided start-up money for goats and the second association has already purchased and distributed 6 goats to 6 women. The kids produced by the goats will be distributed to other members until all 24 women have a goat.
The six new goats will be cared for by the women in groups of four members.
DEVELOPMENT: PROJECT PROGRESS AND EXTENSION PROJECT
Breeding Goats at Nyambuye Zone in Isale Commune, Project Manager, Desire CIZA
Notwithstanding the political unrest and other challenges in Burundi, this Breeding Goats development project has been very successful and has started an extension project.
This project was designed to improve the socioeconomic conditions of 17 community-selected beneficiaries in a rural area just outside Bujumbura. The beneficiaries were to be organized into an association of committed members. The project planned to provide female goats to each association member; a female representative of a needy household. For the first two gestations, one of the kids would be distributed to other beneficiaries. In addition, the association members would be trained and assisted to compost and grow crops. The proceeds from the goats and the crops are expected to sustain the project and improve the quality of life for the represented households.
The implementation of the project has gone very well. There is an association of 17 committed needy women and many more women expressed an interest in joining the project. The association has elected officers and the members pay monthly dues. The association members have at least one goat and they have planted, harvested and sold a number of crops.
Half of the last crop, a cassava crop, was stolen by thieves. For now, the association has decided not plant crops but continue with goats and pigs.
Extension Development Project:
With the success of the first project, the first association, a new group of 60 needy women, a second association of 30 women and third of association of 30 women, has been formed and for now they are all under the leadership of same elected officers; president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and two advisers.
The first association has given the second group 10 goats and 3 pigs to get started with animal husbandry and the distribution of goats to other group members. Once the first 30 members of the second association have goats, goats will be distributed to the other 30 members of the third association.
The second group of 60 women will eventually become two associations of 30 women but they are working together for now. The second group members have already planted a field with cassava and other vegetables.
Thanks to a Canadian donor, the second group of women was given a cash gift to be used as decided by the collective. The group decided to use the money to rent a field for two years.
To reduce expenses, all of the women contributed a half a kilo of beans and a small bag of manure and all of the members contributed to planting the beans.
The beans have been planted and the weeding, harvesting and selling will be done on a collective, cooperative basis.
The second group has established a system of monthly meetings and monthly fees in order to provide small loans to members. In addition, the money has been used to reserve/rent three small stores in a local market that is under construction. The association will develop collective businesses to supply and manage the three stores in the market. The large extension project is expected to be very successful.