Bon Voyage, Carlan!

Today marks, in some ways, the end of an era.  After almost two years of being together as a team, from Albertville France to Bujumbura, Banga, and Kibuye, Carlan is starting off the wave of HMAs/furloughs.  He left Kibuye this morning and will fly back to the US for three months state-side on Wednesday.  We are sad to see our energetic, hardworking, fun loving, awesome teammate and wonderful uncle to our kids say goodbye until October.  As a team, we decided it would be best to stagger our time away from Kibuye for the sake of the hospital and the sake of the medical school, but it doesn't make it easier for the rest of us to be apart.  Once Carlan returns, it's Alyssa's turn to go and then the McLaughlins and then…well, you get the picture.

So, pray for Carlan's trip back to the States, for safe travels and good times of fellowship and connection.  Pray for those of us here at Kibuye, trying not to let Carlan's newly formed ER crash and burn without him (!).  He has spent many hours in tireless service at the hospital, renovating and creating a new emergency room where there really was not one before.  We are blessed to have him as part of the McCropders, and eagerly anticipate his return.


Artemis Award

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has chosen this year's recipient of their Artemis Award, which recognizes a young ophthalmologist who has demonstrated professional caring and service to an exemplary degree.

Click here to read a great article about John!
First cataract web


On Being Rich, Part 2: New Houses and Goat Roasts

(by Eric)

The first of the McCropder families is in a permanent house.  We, the McLaughlins, moved in about 3 weeks ago, and have been loving the space and the sense of settling.  Thanks to all that have made this possible.
Celebrating my 33rd birthday in the new house.  (Yes, that is quite a couch.)
After several years of living in temporary housing (since we left our home in 2009, remember that saga?), the luxury of this nice house all to ourselves weighs on us a bit.  This is certainly added to by the poverty that is all around us.  We've written about these tensions before (and I'm sure we will again), but there is another side to that coin.

A while ago, we decided that, at the end of every major construction project (like a house) we will celebrate in traditional Kirundian fashion:  A Goat Roast.

Everyone takes the afternoon off, and all the workers get to sit down, rest, drink a Fanta, and enjoy a goat-based meal.  And, like every good African ceremony, no one can enjoy themselves unless there are several speeches made (a phenomenon inexplicable to us Americans).  So last Saturday, we hosted the first of these feasts.
Several workers getting the meal ready
Anna helping out, peeling boiled plantains
Five goats were purchased, and several crates of sodas.  The meal was rounded out by boiled and fried plantains topped with a tomatoey sauce.  Roughly 100 guys (and a few ladies) came to enjoy the food, the drinks, and the speeches.  I received a lot of applause for my line of "Nizeye ko, mu misi iza, tuzokwubaka izindi nzu, kandi tuzofungura izindi mpene nyinshi", which translates as "I hope that, in the days to come, we will build more buildings, and we will eat many more goats."

And that's kind of the point.  Not the goats, but the fact that our presence here has been employing over a hundred people steadily, some of them for close to a year now, and with the expansion projects of the hospital, I wanted to encourage them that we hope there will be steady employment for them for quite a while.

There are days that, from a development standpoint, it seems that one of the best things we do is just to live here and be (relatively) wealthy westerners.  There couldn't be a more uncomfortable role for us, but if you look, you can find signs of development.  More builders riding bikes to work instead of walking.  That guy is wearing a nice new shirt.  That other guy got glasses.  And these things weren't gifts.  It was a result of needed, viable employment, and in the process, needed buildings are built, and these guys provide for their families while increasing their skill level and work experience.  Here's the group (it's a bit hard to appreciate how many of them there are here).

So there is a lot to celebrate:  The comfort of a new home, the completion of a long process, the necessary help from a bunch of workers, and the steady employment of the equivalent of a decent sized village.  A good day.


Drummers of Burundi

by Rachel

If you are a careful observer of our blog, you'll notice that for several years now, in the upper left hand corner of our blog header picture, is an image of an African man in a toga.  It's actually one of the famous Burundian drummers.  Seriously, this is one of the main things Burundi is known for.  I've been able to watch snatches of a few performances and it is quite impressive.  Over a dozen men with large drums, singing, dancing, jumping, drumming.  A group of female dancers usually joins them at some point in the performance for cultural dancing as well.

Well, we have our own little group of lesser known but still impressive drummers here at Kibuye, the "Kibuye Primary School" drumming troupe.  Every weekday afternoon in December we heard them practicing for an upcoming competition.  Far from being wearing, it was actually quite fun to hear the drumbeat wafting across the hills.  I missed it when January started, and was excited when they started up again this month.  The practice sessions are usually composed of 10-15 kids between the ages (I would guess) of 8 and 13 drumming big kettle drums stretched with animal hides, clicking sticks, beating drums, shouting songs.  The kids like to go out to the field by the hospital and watch them practice.  Here's just a taste that I captured on my camera phone this week:

For the "official" Burundian drummers, you can watch someone else's You Tube video below.


A Glimpse Into the World of Eyes

by John & Jess Cropsey

When we moved to Kibuye in November, there was a small, unused room at the end of the hospital that was full of ancient eye equipment, worn eye charts, and assorted glasses and lenses -- remnants of an eye program that operated on a weekly basis years ago, with all those requiring surgery sent to the capital city several hours away.  Before we could start patient care, some major renovations were needed.  Until recently, it wasn't uncommon to see the odd combination of construction and medical supplies.

The operating room under construction, temporarily used as a lecture hall for the Hope Africa medical students rotating on ophthalmology.

While construction was underway, it was necessary to figure out what supplies are available in the country.  One of the ophthalmologists in Bujumbura was very helpful in connecting John with the right folks for acquiring glasses and medicine.

The display case that John built for glasses.  We have discovered that glasses are a highly desired item in Burundi and patients are eager to have them, even if they don't really need them!  

Today, the Kibuye Eye Clinic has around 80 patients each clinic day and approximately 10 operative cases each week.  

Since there was no existing eye program when we arrived, the hospital administration needed to hire new staff to work with John.  On the team, there is 1 general doctor (hoping to complete an ophthalmology residency program in the future), 2 nurses, 2 general workers, and 1 cleaner.  None of them had any experience with eye care, so they’ve had a steep learning curve over the last few months.  They are working hard (including some very long hours on clinic days) and are doing a really good job. 

The next step for the eye program is to start mobile clinics.  Since eye care (and surgical care in particular) has never been routinely available in this part of the country, there is a big need for education in basic eye care.  For example, our family recently went to visit a friend.  While we were there, Jess noticed a young neighbor boy with an eye problem (photo below -- boy in the front, far right).  John took a look and told him to come to the clinic the next day.  It turns out he had a large foreign body stuck on his eye that had been there for several months.  The mother said that she never brought him to the hospital because she thought it couldn’t be cured.  John was able to remove it from his eye and hopefully with time his cornea will completely heal.  Basic education could go a long way in decreasing the number of patients who come to the hospital too late.     

One young patient has been on our family's heart and mind the last few weeks.  His name is Butoyi and he has been diagnosed with retinoblastoma (cancer of the eye).  Treatment involves chemotherapy which is not available anywhere in the country of Burundi.  So, he and his father recently traveled to Rwanda where there is a new program for children with retinoblastoma.  The disease is advanced and he was very quiet on our journey to and from the capital city to get passports for them to leave the country.  Please pray for this young boy, his family, and the medical staff that are caring for him.  

There is still much to be done, but we are so thankful for how God is growing this work and we pray that it is a blessing to many.  



Our worship time at the Greece CMDA conference was headed up by a team from an organization called Prayercast.  Their purpose is to mobilize the church to pray for every nation on earth, and use media as a way to inspire and inform people to do so.  I wanted to share a few videos with you and also  let you know about their website, which is a great resource for praying for any country you can think of (like Burundi, for example!).  Of course, our internet is too slow to upload or download videos, so I'll just give the links here and encourage you to use them. :)  I believe June 8 is the national day of prayer. Please be praying for Burundi during this time, for peaceful upcoming elections in 2015, for national reconciliation, and for the gospel to penetrate all of our hearts.

Shine video:  http://prayercast.com/shine.html

Burundi video:  http://prayercast.com/burundi.html

General website: www.prayercast.com