Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Secret Servants

Students at GIA have been studying the book of James in their Bible classes. Inspired by the section that talks about faith and works, a plan was made so that they could put their studies into action, taking part in acts of service without rewards or credit.

One Saturday morning, class 9B left the gates of GIA and climbed onto the bus. They bounced their way along the road until they reached Gitega Homes of Hope. The children were in school, in their normal Saturday study session, so the GIA students entered the compound almost unnoticed.

Once inside, they were split up into small groups and put to work sorting rice and beans for the children’s lunch.
Rice and beans in Burundi are bought in large sacks which need to be sorted and cleaned before cooking. If rice is taken from the sack and cooked straight away, you are likely to get a mouthful of dirt and gravel along with the rice. Sorting the rice and beans is just one of the many time-consuming and thankless tasks that the House Mothers and helpers do everyday to provide food for the children. This day they had the rare treat of a morning off, whilst the GIA students did the work for them.
Once the rice and beans were sorted, the students cleaned the houses and performed a variety of other household tasks before the children returned from school.
Once finished, the students returned to GIA, excited and enthusiastic about their adventure, having learned for themselves the rewards that come from serving others, with no expectation of credit or payment.

 "Religion that pleases the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil."
- James 1:27 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Cibitoke bakery, and steps towards sustainability...

Standing in the simple doorway, the first thing that hits me is the wonderful smell of baking bread. I stand still for a moment and breathe in deeply, even from this distance I can feel the incredible heat coming from the ovens which take up the majority of the room. The remaining space is occupied by various workers. One is carefully arranging the uncooked dough loaves into lines on flat baking trays, his fingers sprinkling fine flour dust into the air. Another is braving the heat of the oven, removing the cooked bread and placing the new loaves in the oven as part of an efficient production line.
In another corner, a man stands stirring a huge pan of hot oil over a flame, where hundreds of ibitumbura (fried balls of dough, local doughnuts) are bobbing about and sizzling a golden brown.

The bakery is an exciting hive of industry, and it’s even more exciting to see how the children in the Homes of Hope and the Future Hope School in Cibitoke have benefited from the addition of bread to their diets. We have a similar bakery in Gitega, which has also made a huge difference. Children who used to come to school hungry, now get fed mid-morning, and their grades have improved now that they are not studying on an empty stomach.
Even better, surplus bread and ibitumbura are sold in Cibitoke town and generate an income to support the projects. It’s a win-win holistic mission. We’re providing skills-training and a livelihood for those working in the bakery, we’re providing food for the children in our care, and we’re taking steps towards sustainability from the income we generate in town.

Full self-sustainability is still a long way off, but this is a very encouraging step in the right direction.