During our Family Service on Sunday, August 4, Meg and Gareth shared with St. Mark’s some of what they accomplished on their recent trip to Burundi, as well as some stories and experiences. You can listen to this interview by clicking the button below:
About the Trip
On July 3, 2013, two youth of our parish–Megan Heath and Gareth Featherstone–embarked on a three week trip to the small country of Burundi in Central Africa alongside several other students from across Canada. For several months, Megan and Gareth had been faithfully raising support within the wider community and our parish for their missions trip. They spent countless hours planning the many details for the trip with the Loveworks team, an associated humanitarian ministry of Youth For Christ.
The focus of their trip was helping build houses out of mud bricks and working with the Batwa people of Burundi rebuild a hopeful future as a display of God’s great love. Their goal was to empower the people to feed their own families, to start their own businesses, to educate their own children, to care for the orphans in their communities, to have access to clean water and affordable medical care, to live in houses that protect them from the elements and keep them safe, and to build strong peaceful communities.
Another major project was to build a coffee wash-station for local coffee farmers. The wash-station is a way to process the coffee, where it is shelled, washed and processed. The closest washing station in the community was roughly 11 kilometers away–a difficult trek with a large load of coffee beans. Having a wash station closer to their community will help boost productivity and hopefully stimulate their economy, which relies on coffee production.
Burundi is a small land locked country in Central Africa just South of Rwanda that is mostly unknown and often forgotten. Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world with 80% percent of the 8.7 million people in Burundi living in poverty. Burundi has one of the worst health care systems of any other country with only 3 doctors for every 100,000 people and a high rate of HIV/AIDS. The life expectancy of children born in Burundi is 48.5 years and 56.8% of children under the age of 5 in Burundi are chronically malnourished. Access to education is very limited and a scientific study of 178 nations rated Burundi’s population as having the lowest satisfaction with life in the world.
Many of these things are the result of years of violent conflict. Burundi has been profoundly affected by war and continues to feel the deep effects of the Rwanda genocide. For years there has been political unrest with 3 different tribal groups (Hutus, Tutsis, and Twa) fighting for power. With all of these factors the future of this country looks bleak.
However, with the help of youth such as Megan and Gareth and the humanitarian work of organizations such as Loveworks, the hope found in Christ can be displayed in practical ways and help provide a brighter future for those in need.