Tuesday, February 29, 2019
The temperature had cooled down overnight to 15 C which was a nice change from the hot sticky nights in Bujumbura.
We had breakfast at the Lodge and then headed to the Harvest School.
Onesphore was instrumental in the foundation of the Harvest program. When he had approached the governor of the area about his plan for evangelizing the Burundians, the governor told him that he would only support the initiative if he would do more to help them than just trying to evangelize them.
The Harvest organization was initiated in order to give a wholistic approach for helping the Burundians. When Onesphore presented his plan to the him, the governor took a chance on Onesphore and donated land for the project. This Harvest complex sits on the side of a hill and it helps the Burundians with education and health, as well as giving them Christian training.
The original school has grown to become a big complex, largely due to the support of the members at Cornerstone Community Church. The work at the school targets students, particularly the Pygmy ( aka ‘Twa’ ) which are the poorest of the poor.
We spent most of the morning touring of the facilities to see the school in action. The first building we saw was the junior primary school.
Here, we were introduced to the children in the classrooms.
The primary school also has a library, where we brought the 741 books ( weighing about 350 lbs ) which had been donated by Cornerstone.
There is also a senior primary school, where the backpacks that Cornerstone had donated previously for the children, were neatly hanging on pegs outside of the classrooms.
On a terrace below the primary school, there is a high school that is almost finished and is partially occupied by senior primary classes.
On a terrace below the high school is an area for a future sports field and below that construction has started on dormitories for the students.
There is also a small hospital, which contains a pharmacy, a laboratory, a maternity ward an examination room,
and an operating room for minor surgeries.
There are brand new washrooms donated by a Cornerstone parishioner.
There is also a dining hall for the children and a kitchen with a large wood burning stove used for making lunches for the children and the teachers. The children receive a hot porridge for lunch and for some of them, it is the only meal they will have. The stove had recently been modified by a Paraguayan volunteer group in order to stop the smoke from entering the dining area.
Work was underway on the repair and completion of the multi-purpose building with the money donated by investors.
After our tour, we spent a little time helping to cover books in the library with plastic in order to increase their longevity.
We were fortunate to have lunch with some of the teachers before we were taken to the valley below the school so that we could hike up to some of the homes of the children from the school.
I took a picture from the home of one of the students at the school, named Oswald. His mother passed away many years ago. He lives in this house with his father and basically has to fend for himself. A few years ago he was offered a chance to go to the school and it gave him hope to dream about a better life. He is now 14 and he has to hike down about 300 meters in elevation and then back up again. The walk to school can take up to 3 hours. If you look closely you can see the complex on the mountain facing his house.
We climbed a little bit further and met some other ‘Twa’ and listened to some of their stories, which were very interesting and humbling.
When we had climbed an approximately 350 meters up to an elevation of 2058 meters ( 6750 ft ) we started our way back down again.
When we reached the river, we climbed into the van and drove back through the river
and back to our lodge. Shortly after we arrived at the lodge, the teachers from the school joined us for a meal. After the meal, Doug presented them with sweaters that Cornerstone donated for them.
The work at the school is impressive and it is definitely worth the investment. The students that attend the school are eager to learn and when they graduate, they will be able to become professionals, businessmen or leaders in their community. It has already made a profound impact. It is a good example of a program that allows the people to help themselves instead of just giving them money.