Burundi Trip Summer 2012

My story

You all know that I am a “save-the-world-don’t-lose-your-soul” socio-economic undergraduate / modest fashion blogging kind of girl. But it was time to move from the click clicks of the ‘wall building’ world wide web to ‘bridge building’ well-digging world in Burundi.

This page is to raise funds to pay for my trip. And no, this is not just for the journey,  but the benefit of the friends that I will make out there, the benefit of the stories I will share back with you and the benefit of the Kingdom. Even it is £1 you can share,  go ahead. £50, a blessing. £800? Wow! Give as you can afford, but give as to the Lord, Jesus, the true advocate of the poor! So please be generous!

Hopefully, depending on access to the internet, I will be sharing stories on my newly formed blog. 🙂

Why do I want to do this?
Sitting behind my iPad, I can often get so obsessed with “I-culture”, blogging new luxury and high street fashion with a modest twang or reading what the UN or Amnesty International are doing, thinking ‘I want to work there when I graduate with a Distinction in International Development Masters from University of Amsterdam and hopefully eradicate poverty’. NOOO. WRONG THOUGHT PROCESS.

I can start doing something yesterday because Jesus did everything for me 2000+ years ago.

At Christmas, a few youths and I voluntarily visited the homeless, offering Christ through food and hearing their heartfelt stories. Each story was unique to each individual. It shows how complex everyone person is, but made me realise the need to make structures which provide equal opportunity. We need to empower each person, whether the policy makers or the homeless with tools to make the right choices.
I felt so passionate about what the church could be doing. I felt so passionate about what David Cameron could be doing. I mean, does anyone know that poor Enrico has been denied a place to live due to his social status (he isn’t female and certainly not pregnant), and is trying to save up to pay for rent deposit? Does anyone know that Lu from South East London is homeless due to lack of parental guidance? Does anyone know that Peter has been homeless all his life as he grew on the streets with his father and knows no different?
Then “Ping!”…the eye opening moment came: I cannot change the world without being changed. I cannot change the world without changing my immediate community. Echoing what Sider says, “People are both spiritual and material beings, addressing only half the problem only gives you half of the solution.” Half solutions can lead to stagnancy which later leads to no solution! Hence, working through TEARFUND is a way to provide a holistic approach to aid…being part of a Miracle!

I will be opportune  to work in Burundi, assisting the Diocese of Matana and Gitega who run community programmes including food security improvement, agricultural work and training in hygiene and sanitation. From this partner project through TEARFUND, I need to start building healthy relationship, free of “strings”, revealing Christ and eventually ‘reconciliation between the oppressor and the oppressed’. Maybe?

I have heard of Rwanda, but Burundi?!
Burundi is the little-known neighbor of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania. Located in central east Africa, the land-locked nation is nestled along the banks of Lake Tanganyika.
The assassination of the democratically elected president in October 1993 marked the beginning of an ongoing conflict in Burundi that has claimed more than 300,000 lives and displaced 1.3.million people at its peak.  In January 2006, U.N. agencies estimated that approximately 117,000 Burundians remained displaced, living in camps throughout the country and an additional 448,000 Burundians lived as refugees, primarily in neighboring Tanzania.  The quality of life has continued to deteriorate as the conflict has destroyed infrastructure, limited access to basic services, and reduces agricultural output.

The below statistics are from 2009.
Population: 8,500,000 +
Life Expectancy: 41 years old
Infant Mortality (per 1,000 live births): 101
Access to an improved water source: 72%
Literacy (% of population age 15+): 66%

The level of human development is very low in Burundi. The United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index for 2010 ranked Burundi fourth from the bottom out of 169 countries. This poor ranking reflects the challenges that face Burundi’s social sector. Prominent among them are the high level of poverty, problems in the education sector despite noteworthy progress in recent years, HIV/AIDS prevalence and poor health. The country’s political and economic trajectory over the last two decades has deepened poverty, making a large number of people destitute. Before the war in 1993, 35% of the population lived below the monetary poverty line. The latest estimate reported that the poverty rate had increased to 67% in 2006, and there are no indications that it has declined since then.

Information Sources: www.devdata.worldbank.orgwww.africaneconomicoutlook.org

The good news about Burundi is it has natural resources in Cobalt and copper. Some of Burundi’s main exports include coffee and sugar. Let’s see what can be done to fairly and ethically get Burundi’s coffee and sugar in Harrods, Selfridges, Fortum and Masons, Harvey Nichols and John Lewis. Lets see if local independent retailers would stock their coffee. Let’s see what God can do for people in Burundi.

See the Millennium development goals for Burundi here http://www.indexmundi.com/burundi/millennium-development-goals.html.

So, you say, this is sooo short term?! You cannot do much in 10 weeks!
I say, this adds to the kingdom building, which started at salvation. Little is much with Christ in it. This is just the beginning! Time to stop building walls and start building bridges.

So, you ask, what is in it for me?
“Each of us has contributed to the pain and suffering and decay in the world,” No, this is not emotional blackmail, this is the truth.

Doing nothing is the silent killer.

Everyone knows how to do something about poverty, we can preach it, talk it, debate it and ideoligicalise it. We need to implement resources! We have to care about the poor like Jesus did.

I strongly believe that we need to stop starving our minds with “virtual food” and start making a difference.

Start with your neighbour, then the dude sitting on the street, whether he is a genuine or a professional beggar. If he is a pro, then he definitely lacks spiritual food, and you can provide that!

Know of a sister lacking? Know of a sick brother? Provide emotional food to the lonely. Not because of you and me. No! But do it to present and represent Jesus.

Be a friend…especially to the vulnerable – “The last, the least and the lost”. “The best practice of learning to love the so-called ‘other’ is learning to love the person nearest you.” After, your heart will yearn further than your postcode.

Jesus says the Kingdom is here—right here, right now—and you can begin living it.

Ponder: Where do my greatest gifts intersect with the world’s greatest need?- Frederick Buechner.

Love Family. Love locally. Love nationally. Love internationally. love eternally.

In Closing,
Matthew 25:31-46
King James Version (KJV)
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

(Legal bit: fund code 1395, reference number 3120833). Don’t forget to put a few pounds to make this trip worthwhile here.

 

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