OC Tech Services
/Friday, December 3, 2021
Building and equipping leaders in Burundi to extend the gospel in word and deed.
Our unique partnership in Burundi these last two years (almost) has met a number of challenges, as have many ministries internationally. Let me remind you of the heart of our work in Burundi. We are committed to helping the church extend both “hands” of the gospel, in word and deed. The church has been quite effective in extending the hand of the “word” but needs to become more effective in demonstrating God’s love in action, the gospel in “deed”. Our focus is this “love in action”, helping churches have deeper motivation to serve their communities, clearer thinking as to how to best serve, and greater capacity in serving well. We prioritize practical training of practitioners as well as motivating church leaders and decision makers. We have called Outreach Canada’s work in Burundi (with our local partner, Partners Trust International Church), Rethink Development.
Changes in 2021
Part of our “rhythm” of work in Burundi was to gather leaders annually for a conference. Of course, that has not been possible either in 2020 or this year. We have zeroed-in on preparing and working with a group of younger leaders, providing training for them in doing research and evaluating community development projects. Under the leadership of our key trainer (based in Ottawa), this group took an intensive online course on evaluating community developed projects and then received some very practical orientation to doing this in the Burundian context. The main focus this year has been mobilizing this group to use their skills to evaluate a community development project called a “Community savings program”.
This approach is a centre piece of many churches and their work with poor communities. The main focus of the project is bringing local people together to save money and, in many cases, even launch a joint small business together with the money saved. It is a great model but very little has been done to look at the model critically and help the program become even more effective. We are nearing completion of our evaluation, thanks in large part to the work of our part-time local coordinator. Ezekiel began his work with us in September and has been doing great work for us. We will complete the evaluation early in the new year.
Once this is completed, our focus will be on disseminating our findings, first through holding a mini conference for NGO and church leaders in Bujumbura the capital. Part of the focus of our work in Burundi is to help these leaders see more clearly how to serve their communities. We will have some great ideas to share with them regarding these community savings programs in February!
More learning cohorts in 2021
Our next focus, now that things are returning to a certain “normal” in Burundi, is to launch another learning cohort. Leaders in Burundi are eager to receive the training and orientation we offer. As these leaders are trained, they will also have the skills to evaluate their community development projects more critically and constructively.
Launching a learning and research centre
Over the last few years we have come to the conviction that one of the very best ways to further this training and “capacity building” focus, is to open a learning centre. Our plan is to equip a “learning and research centre” in our local partner’s excellent facility. This centre would meet the following needs:
- Serve as a training venue for our future learning cohorts, providing computer access with a reliable internet connection.
- Provide a database center for the research we are pursuing on organizations, churches and their areas of intervention in community development.
- Serve as a “laboratory” for research projects.
- Serve as a platform for the dissemination of research results.
- Make available to the broader Christian development community reliable IT infrastructures (computers, scanners and printers) and access to the Internet.
- Ultimately generate income for our research and training initiatives through rental of our services.
Our focus at the end of 2021 is launching this learning centre. Thanks to lower overall costs this year, we have $ 10,000 to put toward the centre. Equipping this centre is a significant investment. For example, each computer will cost close to 2000 $. A reliable internet connection in the country costs several hundred dollars per month. We also will need technical support to run the centre. The project to be completed will eventually require close to $ 100,000 (two-thirds of the costs will be hardware, and one third will be support personnel. We foresee the centre generating income that will cover the operating budget as early as December of 2022.
A gift at the end or 2021 toward launching this learning centre would be greatly appreciated! Let me remind you of how your gift will help this project keep moving forward:
- $ 2500 would purchase the server for our new learning centre
- $ 2000 would purchase a computer for the centre
- $ 500 would pay the part-time salary of our local coordinator for one month or the stipend for a local trainer
- $ 100 would subsidize a student for our new learning cohort
Thank you so much for supporting us in this work of standing with leaders in Burundi as they doggedly serve in one of the most challenging corners of the world.
Barry Whatley, project lead.