I recently returned from a six-week visit to Burundi. It was an enjoyable and productive visit. Among my activities, I taught a course at Hope Africa University and I met with project managers from all of our 12 development projects and I made field visits to almost all of the development projects. This newsletter begins the reporting on my last visit to Burundi, the progress of the 12 development projects and other developments related to the Student Grants Program of the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund.
Teaching at Hope Africa University, Visiting Professor, John McCREADY
Once again, I taught my Community Needs Assessment course at Hope Africa University. The course has become a five-credit (50 hours), required course in the Community Development Masters Program. I taught the course to a small number of students who are part of the second promotion of the Community Development Masters Program. Since I like to use a participatory, interactive teaching approach, a small number of students works out well for all. While I was at Hope Africa University, I was asked to develop a “philosophical” introduction to the Community Development Masters Program courses that need to be presented to the Burundian government for approval. I was flattered to be asked and, before I left Burundi, I presented the suggested piece to Dr. Funenge Blaise, Director of Masters Programs, and Dr. Simeon Nikobari, Vice-Rector for Academics.
Making Bricks in Mugaruro Quarter, Buterere Commune, Project Manager, Audace MPAWENIMANA
Based on the needs and recommendations identified in his master’s of business administration thesis, the project manager, Audace MPAWENIMANA, designed a project to develop the capacity and improve the socioeconomic lives of brick makers in Buterere Commune. The project provides training and financial assistance to the 15 people who make bricks, grow rice and are committed members of the association. The training focuses on improving brick making and management skills. The financial assistance consists of providing support for other income-generating activities. Some of the income is being reinvested back into the association to ensure that the project sustains itself and grows.
Recent Activities and Results:
It was a very good visit to the brick making and rice growing project. The project manager has organized 15 brick makers and rice growers into an association, something like a cooperative. The association has a president and an accountant. There are five women and 10 men, including a number of Batwa. This is our first project to work with brick makers and this is our first project to include a number of Batwa (members of the Twa ethnicity). I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of the brick makers are women and some of the beneficiaries are Batwa.
The recently fired bricks that were still at the project site represented the fifth time bricks have been made and sold. At the same time, a field of rice is just about ready for harvest; this will be the second harvest of rice. The proceeds from the sale of bricks and rice are shared between the beneficiaries and the association and shared evenly among the beneficiaries.
The project manager, Audace, has done a good job of designing, organizing and implementing the project. It appears that the project will keep functioning and creating benefits long into the future. As we were visiting the project, bricks that had been sold were being packed onto bicycles to be delivered to the purchaser.
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 10 poor widows and 3 poor orphans in the cultivation and sale of vegetables (agriculture), the raising of rabbits (animal husbandry) and, thereby, create a bigger and better diet, ongoing jobs, income and an association.
Recent Activities and Results:
The project has organized an association of the first 13 members and added 7 more poor widows. The 20 association members have planted and harvested crops of cabbage, maize (corn), cassava and beans. The harvest was shared with the association members and some was saved for seed and the remainder was sold with some of the proceeds going to the association.
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. The cultivation and training takes place on demonstration field from which the association members share in the harvest. The women are encouraged to use the training in cultivating their own fields.
In addition and in support of encouraging animal husbandry, the project manager bought and distributed three rabbits to each of the 20 women; that’s a lot of rabbits (60).
The association members have saved 200,000 francs and they are using the savings for micro-financing; the loan of money for individual businesses. One woman borrowed money and bought a pig and another woman bought a goat. Three other women have begun selling vegetables (tomatoes and onions), salt and palm oil.
Special Note on Sharing the Benefits:
The women work together on fields where they share in the harvest and they also work in teams for other people and then split the money between all members and the association. When some association members are hired to work on other people’s fields and other members are working on the collective demonstration field, the money earned by those working for other people is shared with the members who were working on the collective field. With the money that the association has saved, the members have 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.