NEWSLETTER: Update on Development Activities with Hope Africa University

As some of you know, I was at Hope Africa University during January and part of February. Although I was planning to return to Burundi in mid-May, my trip was cancelled because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. As much as possible, our development work continues.

Although this website is primarily focused on the development projects supported through start-up grants from the United States based Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund (HMODF), the Fund and its founder and director, yours truly, John McCready, are associated with Hope Africa University (HAU). Only HAU students and graduates are eligible to apply to the HMODF for grants. The HMODF provides start-up grants to HAU students and graduates who serve as volunteer project managers for development projects for poor beneficiaries (usually women) who form an association and collectively pursue development activities and, usually, agriculture activities such as raising animals (goats or pigs) and cultivating crops.

In addition, the HMODF and Dr. John McCready have a Memorandum of Understanding with HAU. This newsletter pertains to our work with HAU. Accordingly, the newsletter addresses a number of topics: the Current Memorandum of Understanding; the Community Needs Assessment Course; a Community Development Workshop; the Graduation Ceremonies; and, the development of a Memorandum of Understanding on Agriculture Extension Education and Development.

Current Memorandum of Understanding

Shortly after Dr. Victor BARANTOTA was appointed as Rector of Hope Africa University (HAU), a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between HAU and the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund (HMODF) was developed and signed.

Signing the Memorandum of Understanding

The MOU formalized the HMODF and Dr. McCready’s association with HAU. The MOU identifies John McCready as an Adjunct Professor and Senior Advisor on Development.

Memorandum of Understanding

As an Adjunct Professor, John teaches in the Community Development Master’s Program and contributes in the Social Development, Community Development and Community Health Development and Other Selected Areas. As a Senior Advisor Development, John serves Hope Africa University, Graduate Programs, Research, Publications, the Community Development Master’s Program and the Social Work and Community Development Bachelor’s Program.

As an important MOU related development initiative, John contributed to research and publications at Hope Africa University. In early January 2019, Rector Victor BARANTOTA, established a Publication Work Group (PWG) to consider the development of publication at HAU. In establishing the PWG, the Rector emphasized that he wanted to know what is needed to develop an HAU journal. The PWG was lead by Co-Chairs Dr. John McCready and Joram NGENZIRABONA, Assistant Director of the Research Office.


The membership of the PWG included senior personnel associated with HAU; Rector Dr. Victor BARANTOTA, Dr. Jeanine NDIHOKUBWAYO, Ambassador Dr. Philippe NTAHONKURIYE, Grégoire NDAYONGEJE, Therese UYAMBAJE, Lameck NDIHOKUBWAYO, Linnet Kasaya, Emmanuel SIBOMANA, Dr. Barbara Rose and Karen Parsons.

HAU has the responsibility for excellence in scholarship; the development of new knowledge (research), the documentation of new knowledge and the dissemination of new knowledge (publication). Accordingly, HAU is committed to providing increasing emphasis and support to research and publications.

After several meetings and exchanges of information, the PWG completed its work and submitted a Proposal for an Online Journal to the Rector in October of 2019. The proposal and report tried to answer the Rector’s question about what is needed to develop a journal for HAU. The proposal and report recommended the development of a open-access, online journal; the Hope Africa University Journal, but it also emphasized the need for capacity development for faculty members and students; the development and provision of training, support, services and tools to increase HAU capacity in research and publications.

Community Needs Assessment Course

Hope Africa University has a Community Development Master’s Program; the only one in Burundi. John developed a Community Needs Assessment course that has become a required course within the graduate degree program. As usual, John taught the Community Needs Assessment course again in January. The course involves a lot of participation in the classroom. The students are evaluated on their participation in class discussion and group discussion exercises.

For each discussion group, a facilitator is selected and a recorder/reporter is selected. The facilitator ensures that everyone has opportunities to participate in the discussion and the discussion is focused on the purpose of the exercise.

Discussion Group Exercise

The recorder/reporter records the main points of the discussion and reports the results of the discussion to the rest of the students.

Reporting the Discussion Results

Community Development Workshop

At the end of January, Hope Africa University hosted an all-day Community Development Workshop, entitled Community Development Opportunities: Getting Active. The workshop was sponsored by Hope Africa University (HAU) and three outside associations; Action for Peace and Community Development (APADECO), Social Action for Development (SAD) and the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund (HMODF).

The Planning Committee was comprised of representatives from each of the four sponsoring organizations. Attendance was by invitation only and each of the sponsoring organizations was allotted a number of participants and more than 80 people attended the workshop. The program was designed to provide practical information and motivation on getting involved in community development activities in Burundi.

Main Presentations and Speakers:

Community Development, What Is It? – Dr. John McCready, Senior Advisor on Development, HAU; Founder and Program Director for HMODF

John McCready

Community Development, Why Is It Important? – Susan Muchiri, Head of Social Work and Community Development, HAU

Susan Muchiri

Community Development as Christian Ministry and Service – Dr. Theodore MBAZUMUTIMA, Director of Rema Burundi


Community Mobilization, Holistic Transformation – Bishop Déogratias NSHIMIYIMANA, Free Methodist Church of Burundi

Bishop Déogratias NSHIMIYIMANA

Ikibiri – Serges Claver NZISABIRA, Child Protection Officer, SAD; and Susan Muchiri, Head of Social Work and Community Development, HAU

Serges Claver NZISABIRA


Cooperatives – Bienvenu Magorwa MUNYERERE, Legal Representative, SAD


Development Opportunities – Thaddee NZOTUNGA


After each of the presentations, there was an opportunity for participants to ask questions and make comments. At the end of the workshop, there were facilitated small group discussions on How I Am Going to Become Active.

Facilitated Discussion Group
Another Group Discussion Session

After the group discussion sessions, a representative of each group provided a summary to all the workshop participants. Judging from the group discussion summary reports during the workshop and the workshop participant feedback we received after the workshop, the workshop was very successful in meeting its objectives.

We had support in conducting the workshop from a number HAU staff members. Thank you. Voice of Hope Radio provided a journalist and a photographer. Some of the photographs in this newsletter were taken and provided by the Voice of Hope photographer and the recorded interviews, available below, were conducted by the Voice of Hope journalist. Thank you Voice of Hope.

Recorded Interviews by Voice of Hope Radio 

Graduation Ceremonies

For the third year in a row, John had the opportunity of participating in the February Hope Africa University (HAU) graduation. John had the privilege of announcing the graduates of the Community Development Master’s Program and distributing the diplomas.

All Dressed-up and Marching in to Graduation

This year there were two students who had completed the requirements for the Community Development graduate degree. This year’s graduates were Aloys NZOYISABA and Come NDIKUMANA.

Before the Graduation Ceremonies (l to r, Aloys and Come)

Graduations at HAU are well-attended and exciting events. The ceremonies start right after the graduates and their respective faculty members march in to their seats. The program is full of guests, songs, presentations and introductions of the graduates of the variety of programs. The program also includes some traditional cultural activities. The Burundian Drummers play a central part throughout the graduation ceremonies.

Colorful Burundian Drummers
Looks Like Traditional Bark Cloth to Me
Keep on Drumming
Dancing with Decorative Spear
Landing a Big Jump
Saluting the Guests
Colorful Burundian Dancers

After all the ceremonies were completed, the diplomas were distributed to the graduates.

After Graduation Ceremonies, Come and Aloys

Agriculture Extension Education and Development

Last May, Friends of Hope Africa University (FHAU) sponsored an exploration of opportunities for a new agriculture education program for Burundi. FHAU envisioned an educational, vocational training program with national reach and national impact; an educational extension program that would train, develop and supervise agricultural field agents to train community farmers and monitor regional agricultural production; an extension program that would increase production, eliminate the threat of famine and reduce malnutrition by 90 percent.

The exploration was conducted onsite by Gina and Travis Sheets who are Senior Fellows with the Sagamore Institute and who are agriculture development experts with direct experience in Africa.

Travis and Gina Sheets

Before the exploration process began, John Ellis, former President of FHAU, asked John McCready and the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund (HMODF) to support the exploration by meeting with the exploration team, organizing a consultation with our Project Managers, organizing field visits to our agricultural development projects and suggesting other field visits and consultations with key individuals and organizations. Working with Jean Paul SHAKA, former Public Relations Officer at Hope Africa University and Coordinator of the Exploration, a visitation map and a daily itinerary was developed and refined during the exploration. John McCready was honored and delighted to be involved in planning the exploration process and attending most of the interviews.

The Sheets conducted a 15-day, onsite exploration and conducted 37 interviews with more that 60 people in a variety of locations. The Sheets had a consultation session with the Project Managers of the HMODF.

Project Managers and the Sheets

The Sheets visited our four goats and crops development projects at our Kabezi location.

Some of the Members of the Four Associations

During the exploration, the Sheets met with Bishop Déogratias NSYIMIYIMANA of the Free Methodist Church of Burundi (FMCoB) and learned that the Church, through its Community Mobilization for Holistic Transformation program, has started a new agriculture development project. The FMCoB has recently started a very well-conceived and well-designed agriculture development project (accessible practical training and support for crop cultivation and animal husbandry). The program is uniquely designed to employ the Church’s national physical presence and serve and meet the needs of thousands of people in their respective communities.

Following the exploration, the Sheets submitted their report in a document entitled, Report to Friends of Hope Africa University on Burundi’s Agriculture Extension and Education Opportunities. The Sheet’s report recommended a practical, vocational, outreach and extension approach that requires regional and local extension sites for extension agriculture training, extension agriculture demonstration and extension agriculture support. Throughout the report, references are made to ensuring that community farmers throughout Burundi have easy access to practical training such as Farming God’s Way. The extension education is understood to include outreach to community farmers in their own communities which requires partnerships with existing organizations at the regional and local levels in order to develop easy onsite access to practical training such Farming God’s Way and easy onsite access to demonstration of the use and benefits of Farming God’s Way.

The aim of the new agriculture education and development program is to have impact on agriculture techniques and practices and, thereby, significantly increase agriculture productivity throughout Burundi. Since agriculture is pursued throughout Burundi by poor community farmers with small plots and using traditional methods, the desired impact on productivity requires easy access to practical training, demonstration and support at the community level all over Burundi; the required practical extension training and demonstration (e.g., Farming God’s Way) must be easily available and accessible at the community level for community farmers throughout Burundi.

Since the new agriculture education program seeks to have significant impact on increasing agriculture productivity throughout Burundi, the recommended approach requires the identification, mobilization and involvement of partners at the national, regional, local and community levels. Obvious partners in planning and coordinating extension education with Hope Africa University are the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund (HMODF) and the Free Methodist Church of Burundi (FMCoB).

The HMODF has 14 active agriculture projects which would benefit greatly from agriculture training and a successful agriculture development model of working with poor women in an association on crop cultivation and animal husbandry. The Sheets recommended that our Kabezi location that has four development projects be considered as an extension training and demonstration site.

The Free Methodist Church of Burundi is an essential partner to the success of the new agriculture extension education and development program for Burundi. To have national impact on agriculture development, it is critical to have physical presence everywhere in the country in order to provide easily-accessed, practical training and demonstration for the millions of community farmers throughout Burundi. The FMCoB has physical presence throughout Burundi; the Church is in all 18 provinces and has 45 districts, 258 parishes, 531 ordained pastors 1,260 lay leaders, 179,000 adult members and 100,000 youth members.

Hope Africa University is planning to start and offer a new agriculture education program. Rector Victor BARANTOTA is preparing a proposal to submit to the National Council of Higher Education, seeking approval for the new program. To demonstrate connections with partners to ensure the critical extension education, training and demonstration, Rector BARANTOTA has asked both the HMODF and the FMCoB to prepare a MOU that would be included in the proposal. The HMODF is delighted to have the opportunity to serve as a partner with HAU and the FMCoB and other partners in developing and coordinating the critical extension components.

The main roles for the HMODF would be to contribute to the development of networks and partnerships and the planning and coordination of the critical extension training and demonstration work. The HMODF draft MOU has been completed and submitted for review by Rector BARANTOTA. The HMODF MOU includes centrals roles in (1) developing and contributing to a Strategic Planning and Coordination Committee; (2) identifying and developing partnerships; and, (3) developing and coordinating extension training and demonstration sites and activities throughout Burundi, including the HMODF development projects. The Rector is satisfied with the MOU but because it anticipates collaboration, integration and coordination with the FMCoB, the draft is being considered by the Church as it develops its own MOU.

The development of agriculture and an increase in agriculture productivity are exceedingly important priorities for the development of Burundi. Stay tuned!