I have recently returned from spending a bit more than three weeks in Burundi. It was my privilege to teach a course on Community Needs Assessment at Hope Africa University. This was a new course, offered to senior social work students and others taking it as an elective. I had seventeen students; sixteen social work students and one Business Department graduate. Although there were communication challenges on both sides, the course went very well. With my support to teach again, the Community Needs Assessment course will be added to the Social Work Department’s courses in the new catalogue.
To enliven the course content and exercises, we had three guest presentations. Dr. Charles Kirkpatrick, accompanied by Evariste Harerimana, the Musical Director, described the development of the Radio Voice of Hope, the indigenous radio station of Hope Africa University. Joy Buconyori, accompanied by Francine and a widow, described the work of Sister Connection. Bishop Elie Buconyori presented on Hope Africa University’s commitment to liberal arts education and “Facing African Realities” by engaging African problems with African solutions.
While I was at Hope Africa University, Bishop Elie Buconyori and I set up the African Governing Committee of the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund. Bishop Buconyori suggested that we start with a small committee and invited Rev. Déogratias Nshimiyimana to join the African Governing Committee. Rev. Nshimiyimana, formerly of Hope Africa University and now Burundi Director for the African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM), met with us to consider the start-up of the Fund. It was agreed that we would support two types of projects: Reactive, Student Generated Projects and Proactive, African Governing Committee Generated Projects.
While in Burundi, a group of the Visiting Professors was able to visit Kibuye, Mweya, Mount Hope, Nkondo and Muyebe. Travelling from Kibuye, we stopped along the road to meet former Pastor Mark (Ndimukwenga, Mariko) who is 95 and was one of the first McCready converts (what a moment). Kindly and generously, Pastor Mark’s son, John Bosco presented a gift of three roasted ears of corn.
Muyebe was the first Free Methodist Church mission station in Burundi. The Haley’s started at Muyebe and the McCready’s worked at Muyebe. I had not been to Muyebe for more than 53 years. On the way to Muyebe, we stopped along the road to talk to former Pastor and Superintendent Matthew (Myiruko, Matayo) who is 92 and one of John Wesley Haley’s first converts (what a privilege, what an experience). We attended church at Muyebe (Charles Kirkpatrick gave the sermon in Kirundi), toured the schools and clinic and attended a special lunch.
At the lunch, held in the Muyebe house that was built by John Wesley Haley, I was asked to stand. The District Superintendent then reviewed the contributions of Haley’s and McCready’s. It was a rich tribute of Christian love and it made me so proud of my heritage. The love was sufficiently abundant to spill over to me and I was invited to consider returning to Muyebe to make my own contributions. I found this to be a wonderful, powerful and emotionally-moving spiritual experience. I am committed to trying to make significant contributions to Burundi and I will return to Muyebe.
Before I left Hope Africa University, I was able to attend and participate in a graduation ceremony (the photograph was provided by Alliance Niyurkuri, one of the graduates and pictured in the photograph).
Adding to my visit to Burundi was a number of other visitors: Wayne and Barb Vibbert, Charles and Pat Kirkpatrick, Fred and Valerie Trexler, Merle Furry, Barb Rose and Wayne and Darlene McCown. The Vibberts and the Kirkpatricks were absolutely critical to my arrival and my stay in Burundi and at Hope Africa University. Privately before my trip, Lloyd Ganton, a member of the North American Governing Committee, told me that my visit to Burundi would change me forever. He was right! I have come back a better person and I am even more committed to serving Burundi and the Burundian people.
Once the African Governing Committee approves the Call for Proposals and the application outline for the Reactive, Student Generated Projects, I will organize another North American Governing Committee meeting with the aim of launching the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund and the first Call for Proposals for Reactive, Student Generated Project proposals.
Thank you for your interest and support,