KHA Year 2

by Heather

Kibuye Hope Academy has adjourned its second year of classes.  We hope that these 8 students will treasure as many happy memories of this year as we teachers will.  Memories like kid-organized parties in the guava tree fort during recess time.

And kindergarten science experiments.

Field trips

And everyday moments like math class.

Abraham's creative phys ed classes, usually held outside except during rainy season downpours.

The year-end Festival of Cultures celebration, at which the adult guests could identify very few of the flags that the kids can identify.

The girls will likely not forget Abraham's art class including this Michelangelo simulation.

Nor the chicken coop that he helped them build for their chicks as an extra-curricular wood shop learning opportunity. 

We hope the kids will remember some of the Kirundi that they have learned from our Kirundi teacher.

And they should certainly remember loads of laughter

and some silliness

and lots of love.

We are thankful for the joy of teaching and learning with these kids, even when their energy far exceeded ours.  
We are also very grateful that our fabulous primary teacher plans to return for another year here at KHA. We are blessed.


Coup Contrecoup

By John Cropsey

Where to start?

As of the last post, we had no idea who was going to be running this country.  Well, the dust has settled a bit and President Nkurunziza has successfully out-maneuvered the putschists.  Most have already been tried and imprisoned except for the head general who remains at large for the moment.  The President is now "tiding-up" his government as we speak.  Jess and I will not soon forget our 15th wedding anniversary that coincided with the coup, that is for sure.   

That same day (before the coup attempt), one of the new families on our sister team in Bujumbura decided they had had enough of weeks of protests, cancelled classes, and gunfire.  They packed-up their Landcruiser and four kids and headed our way.  Little did they know along their 2.5 hour track through the mountains that a coup had occurred.  Per Murphy's Law, we were unable to reach them by phone to warn them, so we were all holding our breath for an hour plus until they blissfully unaware, meandered into Kibuye.  They were wondering what all the police and army activity was along the way.  We were thanking God.

From there on, my days have been full of talking with my national friends, phone calls, emails, fact finding, team meetings, BBC/Reuters, social media feeds (thanks Joel and Jessica), prayer, and nightly Serge security committee meetings made up of individuals living in 5 different countries.  All borders and the airport were closed for a few days.  So, that made decision making easy.  Sit tight and wait things out.

The day after the "coup" was the Battle for Bujumbura between the putschists and the loyalists.  Key targets to capture:  Presidential Palace, International Airport, Party Headquarters and the granddaddy of them all, the National Radio Station.  They got started early around 4 am followed by a day of contradicting info flowing out of Buja, "so and so has captured this, no they didn't, we have no idea...."  What we do know is that the next day, our ranks surged with expat refugees.  Our numbers maxed out at 44 expats at Kibuye this weekend.  

In honor of coup - contrecoup day, the US kids faced off against the visiting Canadian kids for a riveting game of capture the flag at Kibuye.  I'm sad to report, our peace-loving Mennonite Canadian friends came out on top.  To top off the refugee experience, two of the Canadian families picked-up lice in their previous temporary "shelter" on their way to us, so that added to the effect.  Greg tossed in a UNHCR bucket laying around his place to capture the spirit a bit more.

The next day, we drastically reduced our numbers as Sunday was "departure day" for half of our team.  I'll spare the details for security reasons.  Deciding who goes and who stays is an arduous process requiring tons of input from all constituents (the missionary, spouse, team leader, mission, parents, in-laws, national partners, embassies...).  

We are very thankful for our security committee at Serge.  It is made up of folks who understand real risk on the ground:  an Ebola doc who's served in not one, but two outbreaks; others who have lived through African coups, rebel attacks and medivacs;  another did covert kingdom work behind the Iron Curtain back in the day...  Yet, they are outside of our situation and thus a bit more objective then those of us in the mix. 

I like how one member of the committee put it:  "The voice of caution will most often be from those outside the situation - informed, clear headed, spirit-led.  The voice of risk comes from those in the midst - passionate, focused, spirit-led.  Both need to be heard and both need to be spoken in faith, trusting God's lead.  The former is what we add to what you have, with Jesus leading the way."

We are feeling a bit of the post-coup bleus and the void left by "departure day".  My wife and kids are gone, the Sund house is empty, the quad-plex Canadians' camp numbers are dwindling....  But, we continue to ask God for wisdom, guidance and joy and for Him to use us to be salt and light in the midst of a sea of fear and the unknown.

As I wrap up this beast of a blog post, I want to acknowledge a couple of things.  First, I am so proud of this team (and our refugees) who have not let fear rule.  They have looked to God and kept their confidence in Him.  There has been calm and peace in the midst of the storm.  Second, I have added a bit of humor into this blog, mostly as a coping mechanism, I'm sure.  This is no joke.  Many of my Burundian friends are deathly afraid as they re-live some of the darkest trauma this planet has to offer.  My heart aches for them.  I am begging God to bring a glimpse of his everlasting peace to this people, here and now.  As I write, 110,000 Burundians are huddled together, exposed to the elements in refugee camps in Rwanda, DRC and Tanzania with cholera already ripping through a large camp in the latter.  

Pray for God to intervene.  Ask God for the seemingly impossible.  Pray for men to humbly put their brothers and sisters above their desire for power and self-protection.  Pray that God's people will shine bright as members of different political parties and tribes.  May they show a nation how to love, dialogue, and find true peace.     


Coup d'État

by John Cropsey

Dear Family and Friends,

We want to give you a brief update from Burundi.  Yesterday, May 13th, from the best we can understand, a coalition of generals committed a “coup d’état” while the president was attending an East African heads of state meeting in Tanzania concerning the current political crisis in Burundi.  The generals have closed all borders and the international airport, partly in an attempt to keep the president from returning to the country.  The president is stating the “coup” has failed.  It is unclear who holds what amount of power at this time.  

In Bujumbura, there was much celebration where the heart of the opposition to the president is mainly based.  In our area, reactions were reserved and all remains calm for the moment, but the president has much broader support “up-country” where we are.  The coming days will tell us much about where this country is headed.  A counter-coup attempt could ignite broader violence.

So, we ask for your prayers:
  • May peace and justice reign in this place so long ravaged by war and injustice.
  • May the church lead by example, loving even their “enemies” in times of tension and fear.
  • May leaders respond wisely to the quickly changing situation.
  • May God give us, our national partners and our mission wisdom in making decisions about our team.
We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.  At this point, we are not getting much more information than what is already available on international news.  

Thanks for your prayers for us and the people of Burundi. 


More Adventures in the Primary School

by Jess Cropsey

As some of you faithful readers may remember, I wrote about Ecole Primaire de Kibuye (the local primary school) a few months ago.  There have been some exciting developments lately, and I wanted to share those with you.

1.)  Four of the team kids are now students at EPK!  A few weeks ago, Elise & Anna started attending French twice a week with one of the classes that I teach English to.  During that time, I take Micah & Sam to the pre-school class.  For the most part, they’ve all done a great job and it’s gone relatively smoothly.  Please pray that this will allow them to develop more relationships with Burundian children and acquire more language skills.  Pray for wisdom for Heather and I as we consider increasing the amount of time they spend there next school year.

2.)  The new classroom for the 8th year students is well on its way to completion.  The parents raised the money to get the basic structure up (bricks, roof), but lacked sufficient funds to add the finishing touches — door, windows, sidewalk around the classroom, concrete floor inside, blackboard, student desks, etc.  Thanks to one of our donors, the classroom will be ready for next year’s class! 

3.)  A new principal has recently been added to the school to work with the existing principal and supervise the older grades (7th-9th).  She seems really great.  Please pray for her as she transitions into her new role.

4.)  A parent meeting was convened a few weeks ago to discuss the construction project at the school and to think about ways that the parents can be involved in the school.  During the meeting it was decided that groups of parents would come once a month for a work day.  The first one was today and there were probably at least 100 parents outside working on the grounds. 

5.)  Our partner at Kibuye, the Free Methodist Church, is exploring a possible partnership with an educational organization that has a lot of experience working with schools in Rwanda.  They are wanting to expand to Burundi.  I’ve heard a lot of great things about this organization and I think they could be a huge resource for teacher training and curriculum development.  Please pray for God’s clear guidance as to whether this would be a beneficial partnership for the school.  

6.)  Over the last few months, I’ve been working on gathering supplies for next year.  Thanks to those of you who are participating in the “Adopt a Teacher” project (an Operation-Christmas-Child-type box for the teachers here).  I have also gathered enough supplies (I hope!) to provide each of the 1,000 students with a small bag of basic school supplies.  These items will be sent out on a shipping container from Michigan in August.  If you’d like to participate, I have some ideas of other ways to help out, so let me know (jesscropsey@yahoo.com).   

7.)  In February, the team kids started a Kirundi class twice a week with Madame Thérèse, the pre-school teacher at the primary school.  We had a great field trip to her house on Friday.  Blog soon to follow with more on that adventure!   

I don’t need to tell you how important education is, but it is particularly critical to Burundi’s future.  Since Burundi is the second most densely populated country in Africa, people struggle to have enough food for themselves, let alone have anything leftover to sell.  As families continue to grow (the average woman has 5-6 children) and land gets divided up into even smaller pieces, it will be impossible for farming to continue as the primary source of food and income.  This is one of the many reasons why education is so important here.  The next generation needs other ways to make a living.

So please join me in praying for this school and its teachers, administrators, and students.  And for each of us as we interact with the school in a culture and language very different than our own.  I hope and pray that we will be a blessing to each other in different ways.