For those who have been following the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund, you know that the focus is on self-determination and capacity development for the indigenous people of Burundi. Avoiding patronizing approaches, the purpose has been to enable the indigenous people to define and lead their own development; Burundians Serving Burundians.
The person who suggested the establishment of the development fund was an indigenous person; the first Rector of Hope Africa University, the late Bishop Elie BUCONYORI. One of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me about my work in Burundi was Rector BUCONYORI who said, “John, you are welcome at Hope Africa University at any time.”
Rector Sylvain NZOHABONAYO is the current and second indigenous Rector of Hope Africa University. I met with Rector Sylvain soon after I arrived at Hope Africa University in January. After the meeting, I wrote to him to thank him for the inspiring meeting and he wrote back to me, making some very strong comments that still mean an awful lot to me today.
I am blessed to have You near us and along the way. As one rope can be weak, two are undoubtedly strong. The same applies with us. I am very happy for your love and support upon improving the living conditions of people in Burundi, partnering with Hope Africa University. Please accept my renewed commitment toward expanding the field of operation and reaching our shared vision.
During my January visit to Burundi, Rector Sylvain agreed to accompany Marie Nadège TWAGIRAYEZU, Anicet NYANDWI, both project managers and social work graduates of Hope Africa University, and me on a field visit to two of our development projects. We were delighted that the Rector of Hope Africa University would take time to visit the projects and the poor women who are the project beneficiaries and project association members.
The Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund has two development projects in the same community in KABEZI Commune. The community is well off the main road and on the top of a mountain ridge overlooking Lake Tanganyika.
Rector Sylvain knew the area and he was very much at home there. He spoke to the beneficiaries of both associations, offering his support and encouragement for their work. He told the members of both associations that Hope Africa University would be considering our development projects as locations for field placements for social work students.
Improved Food Security at Kabezi, Project Mangers, Marie Nadège TWAGIRAYEZU and Anicet NYANDWI
This well-conceived project was designed to recruit and organize poor women who would work together to improve their lives through animal husbandry and agriculture. The project recruited women who were willing to join an association, receive and distribute goats and become involved in the collective planting, harvesting and selling of crops.
At the beginning, five poor women were given a female goat and agreed to pass on a female kid to another woman who agreed to join the association, pass on a kid and work on collective crops. The project has built the first association of 20 active members, distributed 20 goats and provided training on composting, growing beans, soya beans and corn.
Each of the original 20 women has 3 or more goats. One woman reported that she has sold 4 kids for 120,000 BIF. The money she received helped her to pay for medical expenses. In addition, she bought 3 rabbits that have now multiplied to 10 rabbits.
The project has been active in collectively growing crops. The beneficiaries have been trained in composting, organic fertilizing, growing beans, soya beans, tomatoes, maize (corn), sweet potatoes and cassava and crop diversification and erosion prevention. Some of the harvest is distributed to members, some saved for seed and some sold for income. The association has used its holdings to buy its own collective field. The money is also used to provide small loans to association members for small income-generating activities.
Expanding the Association:
As planned, the first association is developing a second association of 20 members who agree to participate in the same development activities (association, goats and crops). So far, 10 more women have been recruited and received a goat.
During our onsite January visit, the association was provided with a gift of money from a Canadian organization. Following the visit, association members decided to use half of the money to buy goats for the second association and use the other half for loans to association members.
In February, Anicet, one of the two project managers, spent some time with association members. teaching them about planting potatoes. Potatoes are a good substitute for cassava because they are easy to plant, do not require fertilizer and are less likely to develop disease. The soil needs to be prepared and the women are taught to plant across the hill and create terraces that aid irrigation and combat erosion.
Development of Vegetable Culture for the Self-Financing of IAP Twubake, Project Manager, Anicet NYANDWI
This project was designed to use a participatory, self-help approach to organize and train 20 poor women in the cultivation and sale of vegetables, the raising of rabbits and, thereby, create a bigger and better diet, ongoing jobs, income and an association.
The project has an association of the 17 poor widows and 3 poor orphan women. Some time ago, the project manager bought and distributed three rabbits to each of the 20 women; a total of 60 rabbits. The women have planted and harvested crops of tomatoes, cabbage, maize (corn), cassava and beans. The harvests are shared with the association members, some of the harvest is saved for seed and the remainder is sold with some of the proceeds going to the association and some to members. The cultivation process is used to train the women on composting, inter-cropping, across the hill line planting, fertilizing, mulching, irrigating, erosion prevention and crop rotation.
Continuing Agriculture and Micro-financing:
The women work together on fields where they share in the harvest and they also work in teams for other people, get paid and then split the money between all members and the association. The association has used some of its money to for micro-financing purposes, providing some of its members with small loans for small income-generating activities such as re-selling vegetables, salt and oil.
Expanding Animal Husbandry:
The association decided to expand its animal husbandry; the association decided to buy 4 goats and draw names to distribute the first 4 goats to 4 members who will in turn distribute the kids to other members based on the initial draw of names. The association hopes that soon all of the women will have at least one goat. To meet this goal, they decided to grow maize (corn) and beans, double their monthly contributions to the association and continue to work for other people who will pay them for their work.
Thanks to a supportive and generous Canadian couple, it was possible to present the association with a gift to support their development efforts. The association members accepted the gift with the aim of speeding up the distribution of goats to its members.