Porridge, Rice, & Beans

A new department at Kibuye Hope Hospital has instantly boosted patient comfort, healing, nutrition, and general morale.  A hospital food service program has begun and has been enthusiastically received.

Until recently, the hospital did not have any food service available.  Family members of patients would bring food that they cooked over fires outside the hospital wards, but patients often ate poorly due to financial constraints related to hospitalization.  Some even went days without food.  

Approximately one year ago, hoping to improve patient nutrition, we started to investigate what it would take to provide simple, nutritious meals for inpatients.  John Ellis, a long-time friend and advocate for Kibuye Hospital, submitted an application to the Herman Miller Cares organization, requesting a grant to help with the costs.  And Herman Miller Cares awarded the grant to begin a Kibuye Hope Hospital feeding program.

In early February, the new food service department began distributing nutritious porridge each morning. 

 Last week, the service expanded to offer an evening meal of rice and beans for each inpatient as well.  Below you see dinner preparations in the hospital kitchen.  

It is no small task to prepare 400 meals per day (200 each morning and 200 each evening) over an open fire.  We are thankful for a new Burundian director who competently organizes the service.  Several employees have been hired to sort the rice, cook the food, and wash the dishes.  The 220 pounds of rice pictured below should last for about two weeks.


Pray For Burundi

As for everything, our hope for Burundi is in God.  For the future peace, light and prosperity of Burundi, we are, as always, dependent on God.  Thankfully, he is good, and he is faithful.

And so we pray for Burundi.

From now until the end of the summer, Burundi is in a particularly challenging situation, because it is election season, which, especially in Africa, creates opportunities for increased tension but also for increased peace and unity, and obviously we want the latter to be the outcome for Burundi this summer.

Holding to this belief in the importance of prayer, we are enlisting the prayers of anyone who would join us.

Quite simply, if you would commit to pray every day for Burundi from now until the end of the summer, then please email us at drsmcl@gmail.com, and we will send you a weekly update with specific prayer requests.

Join with us and millions of Burundians in praying for this wonderful country and its wonderful people.


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! 


Looking For New Recruits!

by Jess Cropsey

We have been blessed to see enormous change and growth happen at Kibuye Hospital over the last year and a half.  We are deeply grateful to the large number of people that have invested in our lives and the ministry here at Kibuye.  We wouldn’t be here without you.  Thanks for the big hearts that you have for us and the people of Burundi.

Now that our long-term houses are built and we’ve each found a groove of life and ministry, we’ve been able to stop and catch our breath a bit.  Whew!  It’s been a long haul!  As we become more deeply rooted here, we can look around and see need in so many places.  While we recognize that we are not the saviors of this place (Jesus is!), we think there are specific needs that we might be able to help meet that would be tremendously beneficial to the Kibuye community.  Last month, we sat down as a team and brainstormed about the skill sets that are most needed to supplement the ministry already happening.  We want to share this with you, our readers, so that you can pray along with us for God’s provision of these people and think about whether you or someone you know might fit the bill!

Here is our current “wish list” of additional LONG-TERM personnel and we are praying that God would bring the right folks along at the right time:

teach the elementary-aged missionary children at Kibuye Hope Academy

Project/Development Manager:
help provide financial oversight of project expenses
seek & write grants
create “media" exposure - facebook, websites, blogs, hospital newsletter
create fundraising materials (video, power points, brochures)
help interface with large donors and provide reporting on projects in progress
help manage the internet system and oversee installation of campus wide network
help integrate technology at the hospital & provide computer training for staff
help implement an electronic medical record system (future goal)
opportunity to teach IT classes at the university

Spiritual Discipler:
focus on growth of “word" ministry at the hospital
help with development of a hospital chaplain training program
coordinate student & staff discipleship (in cooperation with national chaplains & missionary doctors)
Note:  Ideally, this person would be gifted in language learning since high levels of French (and possibly Kirundi) would be necessary to do this job well.

General Surgeon:
comfortable working in a variety of specialties
eager to teach & train African medical professionals

Nurse Practitioner:
teach nursing students (must have Master’s level training)
provide additional training for nurses currently on staff

Logistics and/or Hospital Finance & Administration:
lots of options here — organizing pharmacy orders/pricing, departmental organization (the eye clinic could use some help here!), … 

Biomedical Technician:
help maintain and repair hospital equipment
facilitate the purchase of new or donated equipment

For those interested in a more SHORT-TERM stint (few weeks - several months - year), we would consider folks with the following areas of expertise:  

physicians from various specialties or upper-level residents
 teachers — for missionary kids or ESL (adults and/or kids)
childcare workers
If you or someone you know might be interested in serving in any of these ways, please contact Jess Cropsey (jesscropsey@yahoo.com). 

Thanks for praying with us as we look to expand our team!  


Return from the Coast

by Jess Cropsey

Our team recently returned from a Serge East Africa retreat on the Kenyan coast.  It was great to interact with Serge leadership that joined us from the USA as well as our Serge missionary colleagues  working in other parts of East Africa.  We enjoyed a wonderful Seder meal on the beach together and walked through 4 days over Easter weekend with the themes of surrender-suffering-loss-resurrection-journey.  

Photo by Scott Myhre

Many of the Serge teams have gone through difficult circumstances in the last few months, including several deaths of family members and evacuations due to unrest, so we spent a lot of time sharing & praying for each other.   

Photo by Scott Myhre

Photo by Scott Myhre

The kids had their own program which included face painting, sand castle contests, seashell hunting, crafts, games, & much more! 

We had a free day in between the team leader portion of the retreat and the regional retreat.  Many of us opted for a boating excursion that included snorkeling, scuba diving, and lunch on an island.  Others stayed at the hotel, enjoying the winding pool with little waterslides and the beautiful beach.    

We try to maximize any opportunities when our kids are around water so that they can actually learn how to swim.  Our family passed some big milestones this time around, with Elise gaining in proficiency, Micah putting his face in the water (he was a rock star with snorkeling!) and cruising around with his floaties, and Sam being willing to even get in the water at all.  Yes, they're still a little behind the curve in this department, but we're working on it!

All of us made it safely back to Kibuye yesterday, but we have come back to a very different place!  Two of our interns, Molly Shankles & Abraham Paternoster, have finished their time with us and are on their way back to the USA.  The McLaughlin family is headed there as well for 9 months.  Carlan has left us for a little while to propose to his sweetheart.  So, we are facing a lot of transition!  Please pray for those headed back to the States and for Alyssa as she transitions to life back in Burundi after 4 months away.