Just a few weeks ago our team hosted a fantastic group from Charleston and the UK. The team came to do two things: host a business conference with Dukorane Collective and lead art programs with three schools and ministries in our network.
Doug Hinson, Paul Smith (UK), Dan McNeill, Joe Raya and Russ, Steven, and William hosted a business conference. Over the past few years, Russ and Doug have been working to create a cooperative of Christian businesses in Burundi. They tested the waters in Burundi by starting a tuk-tuk business that has been running for the last year (see the picture of Paul and Dan riding in one of them!). With God’s help and a great Burundian staff, the business has been successful. William began a bus business a few months ago as well and is learning so many things about business ownership in Burundi. With this practical experience and the help of our network of churches and GLO partners, Dukorane Collective selected 25 existing businesses out of over 60 applicants to be a part of this first training. The team taught on customer service, employee care, budgeting, a theology of business, business plans, and other key topics. The conference was a huge success and has set the stage for ongoing training for this extended family of businesses. In the coming months, the collective will offer loans, opportunities for the businesses to save, and accounting and legal services, and the businesses will give back to shared projects to rebuild their country. One big success was that although many of the businesses previously were not paying taxes and were not registered, now they are working to do everything with excellence in order to set an example for others. Please keep these brave business women and men in your prayers.
At the same time, Katie Hinson, who is an art therapist, and Emily, Ally, and Eliza partnered with the YWAM school (about 30 min south of the city), Ephphatha School for the Deaf (the only school in Bujumbura for children who are deaf and one of only two in the country), and New Generation (a ministry for street children in Bujumbura). In each place, Katie lead art projects based on unity and hope with children of all ages. In Burundi, art and creativity are often missing from schools, both because of a lack of materials and a lack of educators’ experience in these areas. At YWAM, each student in the primary school (60 students total) traced their hand and filled it with images that represent unity in their community, and each class gathered these hands into a tree that they placed on the wall in their classroom. When each student was asked to share about what they drew on their hand, they shared about hope, joy, beauty, and peace in their communities and in Burundi. At Ephphatha School for the Deaf, the children did the same activity (about 130 students total), but they gathered the hand prints into a single tree for the entire school. We returned to this school three days in a row, and many of the children participated in the activity all three days! At the end of each meeting, the children were asked to come to the front of the class to point out their hands, and the joy on their faces at showing their part of the tree and being cheered for by their friends clearly demonstrated the care they have for one another and their community. On the final day, we asked them to share about what the project means to them, and many of the children talked about the unity that they find together and in the love of Jesus. At New Generation, we met with 30 of the 77 children who are in their program to make a unity quilt. Each student made a few squares that they could decorate to represent themselves, their hopes, and their community, and we weaved them all together. At each school, Katie met with the teachers and school leaders to discuss how to incorporate art and creativity into the classroom. Overall, it was a joy to spend time with the children in these programs, to share information with the schools, and to see them use the creativity that God has given them to express themselves. Please pray for strong education and increased creativity for these children, the expanding impact of these ministries, and our continued partnerships with them.