"Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring My sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth." Isaiah 43:5-6
Wedged between Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda in east-central Africa, Burundi occupies a high plateau divided by several deep valleys. It is equal in size to Maryland.
The original Burundians were the Twa Pygmies, but they were soon squeezed out by bigger groups. First came the Hutu, mostly farmers of Bantu stock, from about 1000 AD. Later, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the tall, pastoral Tutsi from Ethiopia and Uganda arrived. Relations were cordial, but the Tutsi gradually subjugated the Hutu in a feudal system similar to that of medieval Europe.
At the end of the 19th century Burundi and Rwanda were colonised by Germany, but after WWI the League of Nations mandated Rwanda-Urundi to Belgium. Taking advantage of the status quo, the Belgians ruled through the Tutsi chiefs and princes. The establishment of coffee plantations, and the resulting concentration of wealth in the hands of the Tutsi elite, provoked tensions between the two tribal groups.
Years of conflict followed. In the mid-1990's civil war broke out. In 2004 the UN began operations in Burundi, sending more than 5000 troops to enforce the peace. Parliamentary elections were successfully held in June 2005 and the former rebels, the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD), emerged victorious. FDD leader Pierre Nkurunziza was sworn in as president in August. One rebel group, the Forces for National Liberation (FNL), remains active in the country, but they are now fighting their former allies and a Hutu majority government. The country is finally on the road to stability and all sides need to embrace the spirit of national unity to bring Burundi back from the brink.
610,000 children in Burundi are orphans. In addition to the high number of children who have been orphaned by AIDS, many more have been abandoned by their parents due to the precarious economic situation they face. As a result, Burundi is also home to thousands of homeless children who roam the streets either alone or in groups. In order to survive, many of them resort to begging. Others work as street vendors and some are even forced into commercial sex work. Overall, an estimated 25% in the age group five to 14 are involved in child labour activities.
If you can think of at least ten friends or family members from your work, church, recreational group, etc., this project is for you! The saying goes 'It takes a village to raise a child.' Through a Both Hands project, it takes a village to bring home a child. Families who complete a Both Hands project are often moved by the overwhelming support they receive from their volunteer team.
The loss of a beloved spouse often makes it difficult for a widow to keep up with the necessary improvements and repairs on her home. Widows are often overlooked in our communities and need help, but aren't sure how to find it. Both Hands guides a family through finding a widow in their community to serve for their project.
On the project day, the family serves a widow alongside their team of volunteers. We encourage tasks to be labor-focused rather than material-focused. Labor-focused tasks often include painting, cleaning, landscaping and de-cluttering. We also coach families on how to get local merchants to donate any needed supplies.
The family and their team raise sponsorship for their project day through sending fundraising letters and also sharing their fundraising webpage. For 2016, families' projects raised an average of $12,100. Both Hands is committed to fundraising support for its operating costs through private donors, NO funds raised by a family and their team are deducted for Both Hands' operating.
We have several friends who have adopted internationally and domestically. We loved watching their families love on each other. After many years of infertility, we were blessed with our son, Aden, and we thought we would always be a family of 3. A couple years ago, God placed adoption on Tiff's heart. After praying as a family, for a year, we decided that God was calling us to adopt from Burundi, Africa.
We started our journey more than a little overwhelmed, but through many successful fundraisers (a HUGE garage sale, cookie walk, family portraits, turkey raffle) we soon saw God is good. We were able to raise and make payments toward our adoption totaling over $12,000 dollars in just 6 months!
About 6 months into the adoption process, Tiff was diagnosed with breast cancer. Everything was put on hold for a year while Tiff had chemo, surgery, and radiation. Even with this diagnosis, we never doubted that God was calling us to adopt. Once given the all clear by Tiff's oncologist, we started the adoption process back up.
We were able to make payments totaling about $13,000 in July of 2017!
We have all our paperwork complete for our dossier (all the paperwork that needs to go to Burundi), it has been translated, and will be mailed to Burundi, by our adoption agency, hopefully by the end of September. At that point, we are in a holding pattern until we are matched to our child.
Between now and then, we must raise about $13,500 dollars to cover Burundi government payments, travel expenses and some other odds and ends (visas, in Burundi doctors' visits for Baby Boo, etc.). We have several fundraisers that we hope help us to reach that goal. Gobena coffee sales, Curly Que's Creations, tax deductible donations through My Story by Lifesong.
The big fundraiser coming up is the Both Hands project. Over the next few months we will be planning and organizing this fundraiser.