Thursday, 23 April 2015

In Only Four Months

(By Alyssa)

I recently returned to Burundi after four months HMA in the US. From emails from teammates as well as from missionary training, I expected some things to have changed during my absence. But, wow - I completely underestimated to what extent! When you live in a rural setting and daily struggle with limited resources and "facing African realities", it's easy to think that progress is too slow. Hopefully this blog post will be an encouraging reminder to my teammates as well as to our friends that this corner of the world is indeed developing!

 (Above and below) Burundian physician housing. The above picture is taken from the vantage point of my front yard. McLaughlin's house is just to the right of the picture. In less than four months a site has been chosen next to our houses, funds have been raised, ground broken, and significant construction has been completed including a roof, windows, and walls! We look forward to welcoming our Burundian colleagues to the neighborhood. 

And speaking of neighborhood, we now have four long term missionary houses completed and occupied. My house (shared with our MK teacher) is the first in the below picture followed by Faders and Cropseys. (McLaughlin's house is just behind the photographer.) The kids are loving running back and forth along the shared backyards - we enjoyed a fabulous game of Capture the Flag together on Saturday! Oh, and that Land Cruiser on the right is also new. Our team now shares three vehicles - a 15 passenger van, a small car, and the Land Cruiser. All the vehicles are white - evidently Jason's preferred color for cars. Actually I think he's oblivious to the aesthetics of the vehicles - just as I'm oblivious to what is under the hood!


So now that everyone lives in their newly constructed houses, the quadplex below is empty. It served us well for over a year and now it will be perfect for hosting visitors. You can see that Carlan & Abraham left some tree saplings behind in apartment 1 to welcome the next inhabitants.  

 And it will be easy for us all to greet new visitors on this newly widened path between our houses and the quadplex.

And below we have the other big change in the neighborhood - the Miller family! We miss the McLaughlins as they begin their HMA in the US, but we are happy that their house and some of their clinical roles are being filled in their absence by Drs. Joel and Janette Miller and kids. The Millers have been missionaries in Burundi longer than we have and have graciously hosted us innumerable times in Bujumbura. And now they are not just sweet friends and colleagues at Hope Africa University but neighbors, co-workers, and MK classmates. We're so thankful for their willingness to fill in at this time.

Happy birthday, Janette! 
Miller family with hospital behind
And speaking of missionary kids, the girls wanted to demonstrate the hard work on their garden (which didn't exist a couple months ago). Burundian friends have confirmed that learning to hoe is actually part of the curriculum of elementary school in Burundi, so Elise, Mekdes, and Ella are right on track! You may remember that one of our first Kirundi phrases learned was "The woman hoes"- maybe not such a useful phrase in English but very relevant in a country where subsistence farming is the primary occupation!
 Significant progress has been made on the new church (on left above, on right below) - including many archways, a bell tower, and trusses for the roof. As I understand it, the construction is primarily being done by church members themselves, one brick at a time. This is the church where we worship on Sundays. 
 And, look! Another new path! So much for our frisbee field. Actually it was prime for ankle spraining so better to use a different field for frisbee, and the landscaping looks great. You can't tell in the picture but it is actually outlining the design of the Burundian flag - pretty creative! 

 New student dorm (above) complete and occupied by approximately 60 medical and nursing students

New building on right above and below - the new Salle de Staff. I'm astounded at how fast this building went up. Ground had not been broken when I left 4 months ago and it has been completed and in use for weeks now. This was a huge need as prior to this there was no space big enough to hold all the hospital employees. While some days it seemed like "there's always room for one more on the bench," that wasn't actually true! All hospital staff and students begin each day here with devotions at 7:30am, and the room is also used for morning report, student lectures, hospital meetings, etc. And now no one has to stand outside or crowd in the doorway straining to hear! 

 (Above and below) The inside of the Salle de Staff
New students. Currently the fourth year medical students are at Kibuye - the first time we've had 4th year students as formerly that was considered a pre-clinical year. The med school program previously was a 7 year curriculum (including undergrad) but has now been decreased to 6 years. The fourth year students are pretty green but they are making progress at the end of their four months at Kibuye. And I'm sure they'll have grown leaps and bounds by the time they graduate in 2 1/2 years.

Porridge for patients! I'm so, so happy to see my patients being fed porridge each morning. Most are chronically malnourished and live in extreme physical poverty so I was never sure if they were being fed in the hospital. Now I'm sure they are eating at least one nutritious meal per day. Thanks to many of you who have made that possible! 
 Above is a 10 year old boy significantly improved after arriving comatose with meningitis. It continues to astound me how God heals these kids who would be hospitalized in intensive care and likely on ventilators elsewhere in the world. This is not new but is an encouraging reminder especially after I spent some time visiting the pediatric cardiovascular ICU in the US and was discouraged thinking of how few resources we have comparatively in Burundi. 



"Lenscrafters" at Kibuye - benefitting the eye patients and the hospital

New paintings with Bible verses throughout the hospital
A new classroom (on left above) at the primary school where Jess teaches English, where Sammy and Micah attend Kirundi school, and now where Elise and Anna attend French class
New water reservoir benefitting the hospital and us - hopefully this will make a big difference in reducing water shortages as the dry season begins in a couple months
New ariel view of the hospital from Kibuye rock with the student dorm (blue roof) visible on the right and the new church (with tower) left of center
Some things don't change. I love these familiar sights of colorfully clad patients and visitors at the hospital (above) and happy kids helping with small siblings (below). 


Thanks for joining me on the tour! 
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