NEWSLETTER: Development at an Extension Project

When it is possible, we encourage our development projects to start new development projects which we call extension projects (“pay it forward”). Managed by Christine KAMIRAMEYA, the Savings and Loans: Christian Initiative for Women’s Development in Gatumba project created the Goats and Crops for Women at Matara in NYABIRABA District extension project.

Christine KAMIRAMEYA, Project Manager

Right from the beginning, the micro-financing project planned to 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 goats and crops project in the NYABIRABA District.

Goats and Crops for Women at Matara in NYABIRABA District: Project Manager, Christine KAMIRAMEYA

For self-management and self-government purposes, an association of 24 poor women was formed and elected officers; a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and two advisors.

President of Association
Some of the Association Members
Some More of the Association Members

The women contributed (invested) their own money to rent a field in order to collectively grow crops. The micro-financing project provided the critical start-up capital for buying six goats and buying planting potatoes and fertilizers. The first six goats were distributed to six association members but the care of the goats is done within teams of four women. As the goats multiply, the kids are distributed to other women. Eventually, each woman will have one or more goats. The crops are cultivated and harvested collectively by the association members.

Whereas the goats belong to individual women, most of harvest is 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.

Recent Field Visit to an Extension Project

The extension project is located about an hour’s drive east of Bujumbura and near Matara. Once you leave the national highway that is in pretty good condition, the next “road” is very challenging and a bit scary. Accordingly, we needed what the local people call a “strong car” and so we used the Blue Jeep. The Blue Jeep is a 1981 Toyota Land Cruiser that draws a lot of attention from people who recognize it as a rare vintage vehicle from an earlier time.

The Go-Anywhere Blue Jeep

Thankfully, the Blue Jeep was, once again, loaned to me by Ken Johnson. Before getting the Blue Jeep on the road, I needed a team of helpers (e.g., Randy Matthewson, John Riches and others) and a considerable amount of time and money to update the required papers (e.g., insurance, title and inspection) and complete some much needed repairs (e.g., brakes and tires).

Just Before Leaving Hope Africa University
Driving the Blue Jeep

For this onsite visit, we were bravely accompanied by Barbara Rose of Spring Arbor, Michigan, a Friends of Hope Africa University Board Member and a very active, leading supporter of development at Hope Africa University.

Barbara Rose at the Extension Project

At the end of the back road, there is still some walking that must be done in order to get to the development project, see the association members and see the goats and the large field of peas.

Walking Narrow Path to Development Project

Once you get to the field that is at the top of a hill, the views are beautiful as can be seen in the background of some of the photographs below.

Development of the Association Membership  

Although the extension project of 24 women has had its challenges, the project has drawn attention from other women in the area. The project has attracted an additional 13 women and these women have become part of the association and they are included in the cultivation of crops. It is easy to be impressed with the members of this association; these women are needy, but they are positive, hardworking, deserving, optimistic and grateful.

Association Members

Development through the Distribution of Goats

The extension project has had its challenges. Although two or three of the goats died, the association is having significant success in distributing goats to more and more of their members. As you can see below, the project has at least 16 goats.

Women with Their Goats

The cute little kids represent a critical part of the development because the kids are distributed to other women.

We Love the Cute Little Kids

Development through the Cultivation of Crops

The extension project has had its challenges. After a successful first crop of potatoes, the women planted a very large field of peas. Before the peas could be harvested, the area was hit by wind and the entire crop was lost. Once again, the association members managed to contribute (invest) enough of their own money to plant and harvest a crop of wheat. At the time of our recent field visit, the women were harvesting another crop of peas that was yielding less than expected.

Association Members and Harvested Peas
Harvested Peas

The next crop is going to be potatoes. Yes, the next crop, like the very first crop, will be what they call “Irish” potatoes rather than the sweet potatoes that are also grown in Burundi.

Development through Gifts to a Deserving Project

During our previous onsite visit, the association was presented with gift from a Canadian donor. The gift was to the association with the understanding it would be used to advance their development activities. The women used the money to buy new hoes to make working the land easier and more efficient. In preparing for our visit, the women brought their hoes and some of the association members proudly and happily posed with their new hoes.

Association Members and New Hoes

During our recent visit, the association was presented with another gift from another Canadian who provides generous support for our development work in Burundi.

Presenting the President with a Gift from a Canadian Donor

Demonstrating her support for the development efforts of these hardworking women, Barbara presented a gift to the association members to advance their development activities.

Barbara Presents a Gift to the Association President

SPECIAL NOTE: A Goat Named John

Just for fun during an earlier visit in February of 2017, I asked the women to tell me the names of their goats. Of course, I knew that they did not name their goats. The women told me that they had not given names to any of their goats. However, I soon was asked if I would like to name the goats. Just for fun, I selected a young goat and suggested it could be named John, just like me.

A year later, I had forgotten all about the silly naming of the goats episode. At the end of our February 2018 field visit, we went to visit the goats. After we had taken some photographs of the goats, I was reminded that I had named one of the goats John and I was asked if I knew which goat is named John. I had no idea which goat was named John but the women knew exactly which goat I had named John.

Once the women told me which goat was named by me and after me, I picked up the goat and asked to have a photograph taken of the two Johns, the two goats; an “old goat” named John and a young goat named John.

Two Goats Named John