Rethink Development: Jean de Dieu's Story

Outreach Canada Website /Monday, July 3, 2023

 

This is Jean de Dieu's Story (scroll down to read in French)

 Jean de Dieu's Story (English)

I am Jean de Dieu Bizimana and I represent Outreach Canada (OC) in Burundi; I am also the Legal Representative of Partners Trust International Church - Partner Church to Outreach Canada. I am a 51-year-old Burundian and I have had the privilege of living in Burundi for my entire life. My wife and three daughters are by my side.

My passion for the church, development, and research dates back to the 2000s when I was finishing my university studies. I attended a seminar on conflict transformation and there God gave me a direction of what was to be my life. Since then, a picture has become a compass for my life: I saw myself as a father of a family, having economic principles in my left hand (I have a bachelor's degree in economics) and a Bible in my right hand. I would later understand that this is called an integral vision of life.

In 2017, as we began our partnership with OC, called Rethink Development, I was working for an international organization where I was recognized as a model director. Although I had achieved all the goals of this organization with great satisfaction, my heart was not satisfied. In a way I was in anguish. I was not satisfied, among other things, because I realized that our reporting was uniquely for our donors; these reports were not based on research aiming at creating a community of learners. As a result, I saw myself, like many others, reproducing the same approaches, with the same shortcomings.

I also realized that Burundi was underrepresented in development research and writing, and that the church, a major actor in community development in Burundi, was contributing very little to this bank of development knowledge. With these bitter observations, I shared my heart with my colleague and mentor, Barry Whatley (DMin).

Out of our exchange was born our research and training “thinktank”, Rethink Development.

Since then, research, training and conferences on development to serve churches, Christian organizations and Burundi in general have been conducted, and a training and research center is being established. I myself have enrolled in a doctoral programme and am conducting research on the sustainability of community development programs.

We still have a long way to go but we can be proud of our progress: “research” for the Church in Burundi is no longer a taboo subject; a generation of young Burundians committed to better development practices is being trained; I see the beginnings of academic articles being written by Christian development practitioners in Burundi. We are already discussing how to strengthen the capacity of Christian development leaders, as well as church and business leaders. We are encouraged!

Find out more: Rethink Development in Burundi

Jean de Dieu's Story (French)

Je suis Jean de Dieu Bizimana et je représente Outreach Canada (OC) au Burundi ; je suis également le Représentant Legal de Partners Trust International Church – Eglise partenaire à Outreach Canada. Je suis burundais, âgé de 51 ans et j’ai le privilège d’avoir vécu au Burundi pour l’entièreté de ma vie.   Mon épouse et mes trois filles sont à mes côtés. 

Ma passion pour l’Eglise, le développement et la recherche remonte dans les années 2000 quand je terminais mes études universitaires. Je participai à un séminaire sur la transformation des conflits alors que Dieu me donnait une direction de ce qui allais être ma vie. Depuis lors une image qui est devenue une boussole de ma vie :  je me voyais comme un père d’une famille, ayant des principes économiques dans ma main gauche (J’ai une baccalauréat en économie) et une Bible dans ma main droite. Je comprendrais plus tard que cela s’appelle une vision intégrale de la vie.

Lorsque en 2017 , alors que nous commencions notre partenariat avec OC appelé Rethink Development , je travaillais pour une organisation internationale où j’avais été reconnu comme un directeur modèle.  Malgré que j’eusse réalisé avec grande satisfaction tous les objectifs de cette organisation, mon cœur n’était pas satisfait. D’une certaine manière mon cœur agonisait. Je n’étais pas satisfait, entre autres, parce que je me rendais compte que les rapports d’activité de nos organisations étaient destinés à nos bailleurs ;  ce n’étaient pas des rapports produits à base de recherches visant à créer une communauté d’apprenants. Par conséquent je me voyais moi-même, comme bien d’autres, en train de reproduire les mêmes approches, ayant les mêmes manquements. 

Je faisais également le constat que le Burundi était sous représenté dans les recherches et les écrits sur le développement ; et l’Église, un grand acteur dans le développement communautaire au Burundi, ne contribuait que très peu à cette banque de connaissances en développement.   Avec ces constats amers, j’ai partagé mon cœur avec mon collègue et mentor, Barry Whatley (docteur en théologie).

De nos échanges est née notre laboratoire de recherche et de formation (thinktank), Rethink Développement. Depuis lors des recherches, des formations et des conférences sur le développement cherchant à servir les églises, les organisations à caractère chrétien et le Burundi en général ont été menés, et un centre de formation et de recherche est en train d’être mis en place. Moi-même je me suis inscrit à une école doctorale et mène des recherches sur la pérennisation des programmes de développement communautaire. Le chemin à parcourir est encore long mais nous pouvons être fiers des progrès déjà réalisés : la recherche pour l’Eglise au Burundi n’est plus un sujet tabou ; une génération des jeunes burundais déterminés à apprendre pour mieux faire est en train d’être formée ; je vois les prémices des articles scientifiques écrits sur le Burundi et sur les acteurs chrétiens au Burundi. Nous discutons déjà de comment accompagner  et renforcer la capacité de ceux qui servent les autres, les responsables des églises et des entreprises.  Nous sommes encouragés !

Find out more: Rethink Development in Burundi

 


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