Wadhurst Parish Church


Wadhurst Burundi Link

10-day Team Visit to Burundi in August 2022

During the last week of August, Food for the Hungry UK is planning to take a team to Burundi to visit Mwumba to meet the community and learn more about the work.

Much has been achieved over the past 10 years and the programme has been expanded for the final five years to work alongside a total of 14,778 direct beneficiaries (including 9,658 children under 18) and 18,473 indirect beneficiaries.

The team visits provide a great opportunity to a beautiful country and see how our financial support is being used to grow more food, help people to help themselves in savings groups, build new classrooms and start clubs in the schools. We visit some of the local churches and other community groups involved in the programme. Those who are sponsoring children will have the opportunity to meet their sponsored child.

Previous visits have been a great encouragement and provide an opportunity to learn from one another and strengthen relationships with the community and staff of the Food for the Hungry in Burundi.

If you would like to chat to someone who has been on a previous team visit, please talk with Michael Hardcastle or Steve and Anne Stordy. The overall cost of the visit is around £1,300, which includes the airfares, travel in Burundi and accommodation. Some orientation and preparation for the visit will be provided by Food for the Hungry, UK.

Please contact Steve Stordy (01892 785244 or email stephen.stordy@gmail.com before the end of April if you are interested or would like more information.

Mwumba quarterly report April 2022 (1)

News from Steve Stordy -Burundi Visit, February 2022

Here is some initial news from my visit to Burundi in February. I was visiting with Ian Johnson (CEO Food for the Hungry UK) to help with the mid-term evaluation of the Mwumba Child Focused Community Development Program, which is a 5-year program working alongside the community and churches to combat poverty on 9 hills in Mwumba Zone (near Buye). I expect to have more news to share with you later on the results of the evaluation.

Ian and I had to take COVID tests on arrival and departure – this somewhat shortened the amount of time we could spend up-country as the test results were needed in time for flights. I was with Ian for the first week and then spent a second week visiting some projects supported by a small UK charity called ‘Friends of Burundi’. Overall, the COVID pandemic seems to have declined and life is back to normal. As a precaution, we still wore masks in the FH vehicle and, despite the availability of vaccines, there seems to be no major vaccination campaign by the government

It was good to see the good harvests of maize and other crops from Season A (September – December). There was much activity on the land as farmers were planting beans and cultivating in the valleys, where the growing of paddy rice has become a major crop and source of food. Praise God for the good rains and the prospect of a good coffee harvest in 2022.

Savings Group in Gihama

Food for the Hungry (FH), Mwumba Program: A recent survey of the FH program has shown an encouraging decrease in the number of children who are underweight and stunted in their growth. There are 4 FH staff working in Mwumba involved in community mobilisation and training.

It was so encouraging to visit the savings groups and hear the stories of members how have been able to buy land or livestock to support their families. The Anglican pastor at Mwumba parish, Jean-Pierre Sabimana, is a member of a savings groups and is encouraging members of his congregation to join a group. Each week, members contribute a 3,000BIF (about 80 pence) share to the group and 300BIF to a solidarity fund which is used to help members facing emergencies.

Farming Association in Saramasaka Hill

Food Production: In partnership with the government, FH staff have been encouraging neighbouring farmers to work together, providing improved seed and advice. In particular, the production of compost and use of conservation farming techniques (Farming God’s Way), is increasing food production. Thank God for these and other initiatives which are providing food, without relying on fertilizers and other expensive inputs. Several farming associations were visited and it was a joy to share in the celebration of a good harvest.

Other activities of the FH program have included the construction of new classrooms, rainwater tanks and toilets, the use of  ‘cascade groups’ where volunteers are trained and agree to teach another 15 people in their neighbourhood. This is a good means of adult education in the community.

Ferdianne

Despite these measurable improvements including the decline in the number of students who drop-out of school, the extreme poverty remains for the many who have little to no access to land. During this visit, I was informed that our sponsored child, Ferdianne, had had to drop out of school. Her mother, like others in extreme poverty, was unable to find the resources to join a savings group.

Please pray for the FH team as they plan the remaining 2 years of the program. One problem which emerged from the evaluation was the widespread acceptance that it is ‘OK’ for men to beat their wives! Please pray that the churches and FH will be able to change these attitudes as they teach God’s Word. Also, the program is seeking to improve the quality of the education with more training of teachers and reading materials for pupils.

Thank you to all of you who sent small gifts to your sponsored child.

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Food for the Hungry believes that change must not be imposed from outside.  The local leaders identify the needs that are most important to their community. Any change is brought about by working with the local people – Food for the Hungry call this “walking with the poor”.

Food for the Hungry also believes any change must be sustainable over the long term –  there is no quick fix.  The Wadhurst-Burundi Link aims to continue its support for the community of Mwumba over the next three years until 2025.