Building 19

There are few things more rewarding in life than watching someone you love, do something they love. It was such an honor to watch my husband work on this new two-story surgical ward from the very start (18 months ago) to it's completion (last week!). Although building hospitals in rural Africa has been one of Caleb's life-long dreams, the job is not without it's fair share of difficulties. Caleb has repeatedly mentioned how grateful he is that God provided the best mentor for this first major project through a wise, humble engineer with EMI, Tony Sykes. Together, with about 250 Burundian masons and builders, these men built one of the most beautiful hospital wards in all of East Africa. And on July 14, 2017, the President of Burundi came to open it up.

Please enjoy these pictures of the journey.


"National Pride" Day

by Rachel

We often don’t celebrate American holidays on the days that the rest of Americans celebrate.  For one thing, obviously, they aren’t Burundian holidays and thus if the holiday falls on a weekday (as Thanksgiving always does) it’s a normal work day for us.  But I do want to celebrate, for several reasons.  One, I’ve grown up celebrating certain holidays in certain ways and feel quite nostalgique at certain times of the year.  Two, even though my kids have spent most of their lives outside the US, they will return some day and I’d like them to have a good understanding of certain holidays.  So this year, July 4th came and went.  My Facebook feed was filled with pictures of fireworks, sparklers, and berry topped desserts…and it all felt rather anticlimactic here, where a teammate graciously played patriotic songs for my kids while they colored flag pictures, and I worked a normal day.  

Fortunately, the team rallied and we decided to celebrate on July 8th instead. It wasn’t July 4th, and Burundian independence day had come and gone (mostly unnoticed by us) on the 1st….plus, the team is no longer solely Americans.  In honor of our Canadian teammates and our British short term visitors, we decided to name the day “National Pride” celebration day.  Since Canada and Britain aren’t independent in quite the same way. :)  In typical Kibuye fashion, the holiday needed to be modified somewhat to fit our resources, but we still tried to make it as “classic” as possible.  Scott and Lindsay picked up a couple of small Burundian “Jikos,” clay and metal pots filled with charcoal that are used instead of stoves, and created them into a small grill.  Potato salad, deviled eggs, and french fries appeared on the tables, along with a three layer red white and blue cake.  (And, to be honest, Indian style rice, papaya, and other local foods in lieu of chips and jello).  There had been an embassy 4th of July party (in June) and so a few people showed up with “Uncle Sam” style hats.  We ate on picnic blankets under the trees and a few rounds of horseshoes and baseball followed the food.
The grill master!
Jiko grill!
A good time was had by all.  It got me thinking about my heritage as an American, and how interesting it is to step out of my home culture and see it through new eyes.  It’s now over seven years since we left the US to work in Africa.  I identify less and less as a typical American, but not necessarily more as a Burundian.  I'm really grateful in a lot of ways for the culture in which I grew up.  There are things that I used to take for granted, that I now know are privileges instead of rights.  The freedoms I experienced (and still do) as an America are far from standard in the world.  And I think that working for similar freedoms for people of other countries--freedom to worship, free to pursue health and an education, free to live without fear of starvation--is a GOOD and even necessary thing.  Perhaps without my American "past" I wouldn't see things in the same light. 

Of course, living outside America has been a good thing for me too, and almost every day I count it a blessing to have had my world view expanded (and to have it continually expanded!).  To be able to see the joys and sufferings of people from a world far different from my own, to see how we are different and yet still in many ways the same.  To experience the challenges of communicating in other languages, to know how it feels to go without, to feel the shock of foreignness but eventually to accept the foreignness as the new normal.  So, happy independence day, America!  Thanks for the role you play in my life.  And happy independence day to Burundi!  Thanks for being my new home. May we continue to work together to make it a better place.


COTW: The Continuing Story of the Kibuye Triplets and the New Peds Building

(By Alyssa)

I’d like to introduce you to one family who will benefit from the new peds building (click link to see a 3 minute video). Some of the long time blog readers might remember the story of the triplets who Eric wrote about 2 years ago.
Well, the two remaining triplets are now 2 1/2 years old and they’ve been hospitalized three times on the malnutrition service - spending months of their lives at our hospital. 
October 2015 (10 months old)

Their mama understands what nutrition they need and does her best to care for them at home, but repeatedly she watches them become thinner and sicker, and finally she decides to take the arduous four hour walk to our hospital carrying both kids. I recently read a study highlighting the high (20%) mortality rate of twins in sub-Saharan Africa - three times that of non-twins - and that includes countries with much better infrastructure than Burundi. So it’s easy to imagine that the mortality rate of twins or triplets in Burundi is much higher. We always have several sets of twins in the hospital - usually premies in the NICU and kids on the malnutrition service. It’s so hard for mothers who are also malnourished to have enough milk for two babies at once. 
One of the twins with Anna in April 2016 (16 months old)
Eliana (left) and Rita (right) are both 2 1/2 years old!
So for Emery and Rita it’s two steps forward and one step back - especially this month. They were doing great and ready to go home (though still only weighing 10lbs and 13lbs) but I wanted them to stay in the hospital a little longer so they could learn to walk with Judith and Anna through some intensive physical therapy. 
May 2017 (2 1/2 years old)
Learning to stand
Emery learning to walk with Judith
I regret that decision now as they both caught serious infections in the hospital partly as a result of our overcrowding and they almost died. Praise the Lord who healed them one more time! They’re thankfully heading home once again now, and the mother will continue the physical therapy at home. But I look forward to the day when we will have a new pediatric ward with enough beds for each patient and a dedicated play room to help with the development and sensory stimulation for these kids. And I hope that when patients are no longer sharing beds, that the risk of them also sharing infections will decrease dramatically. Please pray with me for Emery and Rita and the many other patients we take care of with severe malnutrition and pray for God to provide the funds for a new well-lit, clean space in which to care for them. 
Going home in June 2017, pictured with Anna and Abi Fader