New Year’s for COH!

SL day

Friends ~

We stand on the threshold of a new year. There’s much to anticipate and welcome with the dawn of 2013. But we begin by remembering the work of 2012.

This past year brought such great progress in Bubanza. We worked alongside 660 families in a holistic community development project and witnessed great strides forward for young and old, alike. There’s an elementary school under construction. But even before the doors have opened the single class has grown to multiple classes with multiple teachers and a student body of over 300 children. (This really eclipses the single school room with 16 students we met in week one of this partnership!) In 2012 we were able to secure identity cards for all the adult men and women of the community! This is the year they became citizens of their country with access to legal protection, government representation and the dignity of belonging. We also discovered (and verified) that there is water beneath the land of Bubanza. So under the dry dirt is clean water, a fact that is good news to this parched community. So much to celebrate!

The steps forward in education, sanitation and human rights created true momentum within the community. Hope is growing as the families see changes unfolding and begin living into some new realities on the ground. We’re all excited for 2013 and what will continue to happen as we work together. We anticipate opening the elementary school, we expect to dig several wells in the community and we won’t stop advocating until each child has a proper birth certificate and access to healthcare.

 

 

The other big news of 2012 is the opening of Kazoza Community Bank. We’ve taken a fragile micro-loan program inherited from another NGO and transitioned it into a credentialed community bank within the Burundian banking system. Now the working poor can, for the first time, access basic banking for their families and their businesses. This is more than small loans, it’s access to a bank account with a checkbook and a personal banker. We’re also offering mentoring for the business-minded among the clients, helping them step up to the next level of business skill. We see business leaders who are creating valuable services for their communities and employing their neighbors and we want to invest in them so they can expand their good work in the community. This is how economies grow!

In 2013 we hope to enlarge our mentoring program for local business leaders and innovators so that we can see local economies really stimulated and moving forward for all the families in the neighborhood. We’re excited to invite investors to partner with Kazoza in offering loans to local businessmen and women, confident they will reap great benefits while their money proves catalytic for the Burundian economy.

Matara continues to be a happy place for us. Our Batwa friends remain faithful in their local leadership roles spanning education, government representation and community mediation. The children of the village are robust – they perform well in school, they’re growing strong and playing hard. Babies born this year are healthy and all the mothers have survived childbirth. Businesses are growing in Matara, livestock is increasing and crops continue to grow with nutritional goodness. We visit Matara and just smile… God has transformed this land and these lives. In 2013 we imagine they will become local spokespeople for tangible transformation, teaching others how to bring about positive change in their villages, too.

 

 

We are so grateful that so many of you have shared this year with us. You’ve followed our Facebook Page and kept up with weekly stories. You’ve prayed with us and for us. We are so humbled that many of you have given to help these friends – with desks for schools, identify cards for women, towards wells and school supplies and so much more. Some have even traveled to be with us, sharing in the celebration dances like SheLoves women from Canada, COF friends from Texas and Amahoro friends from the West and all over Africa! We love being in this hope-filled work together, to be in solidarity with our Burundian friends and global friends all at once. We are moving forward toward that grand vision a la Isaiah 41 for transformed land and lives!

 

 

 

Thank you for walking (and dancing) with us in 2012. We hope to be sharing in the work, prayer and joyful celebrations into the next year. Let’s anticipate schools, wells, bigger loans, more banking accounts opened and more transformation in 2013!

Happy New Year from Communities of Hope!