I have just returned from a journey to Ethiopia and Burundi! While Ethiopia was a short touristic visit, in Burundi, I was there working with the Eglise Anglicane du Burundi (Anglican Church in Burundi), their clergy, divinity students, and Mothers Union. I was also invited to preach at All Saints Cathedral in Buye. Burundi, officially the Republic of Burundi, is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley at the junction between the African Great Lakes region and East Africa.
It was a fantastic trip in which I was very very busy! I taught about four hours each day (pastoral care, wellness, discipleship, women in ministry, music and liturgy and more!) I also spent much time listening and discussing topics such as our unique country contexts, women in ministry, life, education, dreams, and much more. It was a major eye-opening and breathtaking experience. These two countries are my 43rd and 44th to visit and the memories are ones I will treasure forever. (Part of my luck at such a high number of travels is a background in choral performance, followed by various missional engagements and volunteer time in summers while I was a university music professor.)
On the day I arrived in Bujumbura, Burundi, my colleague, also a Sewanee School of Theology classmate, had just been elected Bishop of Muyinga Diocese that morning! It was cause for joyous celebration!
Throughout my week in the Ngozi region, I was able to visit rural parishes and tiny villages, meet catechists, see construction projects, hike some mountains, and visit various diocesan projects. I’m grateful for my friend Bishop-elect Jean Mweningoma, two other Sewanee colleagues there, and the primate, Archbishop Sixbert Macumi for their welcome and hospitality. While there, I was also able to visit several unprotected water source sites and witness the effects of water-borne disease on the communities. It was heartbreaking. but these community are full of faith and hope. They persevere despite extreme poverty, through times of famine, and in the face of the world and other communities developing around them.
Currently, our church in Beach Haven, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal, is raising funds for rural water protection systems directed by the Anglican Province of Burundi. I was able to visit a few sites that had been protected. This gave me great hope. There was visible evidence of healthier children in these villages and great pride at having clean water. Below is a description of the project. If you would like to help, please send funds to Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church, 410 S. Atlantic Avenue, Beach Haven, NJ, 08008 and make the checks payable to Holy Innocents’ and in the “for column” please write BURUNDI WATER PROJECT.
Description of the Project of Clean Water for Rural Communities in the Diocese of Buye Burundi is endowed with water springs that are located on the bottom of various hills. This water is coming out from the phreatic zone, and it is normally recognized as safe drinking water by the water department. However, the water gets contaminated while out from underground by the surface water and erosion. Most of the existing springs where people fetch water from are in very critical conditions. The springs are shared with both people and animals (cows and goats) and worse, they are welcoming more liquid and solid wastes from hills and households through erosion, for they are not protected. Moreover, water contamination occurs when people are fetching because they fetch while stepping in it. Consequently, many people remain unhealthy because of drinking unclean water. This poor health is characterised by waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, worms, dysentery, cholera. There are many water springs that need protection. In the sole county of Mwumba the water department have reported 38 in need. The estimate population that draws water from each spring is 500 people.
The diocese of Buye, which covers the districts of Ngozi, Kirundo, Kayanza, and a part of Muyinga in the North of Burundi, is committed to protect some of the existing natural water springs so as the population in rural areas may access clean water to drink and for household use. Through Clean Water project, the Diocese of Buye expects to see improvement of people’s health and all the benefits that good health entails. To implement the project, we use skilled people in water spring construction who are available in each county while the local population participate by doing the non-technical activities and collecting some local materials such as clay and wood needed for the work. The external support that we are looking for will be used for the procurement of construction materials, paying technical labour, and project monitoring. To protect one water spring, we need about USD1,500. The Diocese of Buye is ready to protect as many springs as possible if we receive donations to do the work.
Thank you for your consideration! Please keep the Anglican Province of Burundi and the Diocese of Muyinga with bishop-elect Jean Mweningoma in your prayers!