GSM Burundi – Serving the Poorest of the Poor March 9, 2017
For many years, the GSM Country Leader of Burundi was Jeremie Ndayishimiye. Several years ago Jeremie and family, his wife and six children moved to the United States and are now settled into life in Oregon. Jeremie was recently elected to the International Board of Directors.
One of the most important tasks Jeremie undertook while still in Burundi was to raise and develop a staff who could carry on the work in his absence. A lesson well learned by anyone in a leadership role. Upon his departure, the Country Director role was passed on to Eddy Bukeyeneza.
Burundi is one of the geographically smallest countries in Africa and the second poorest after South Sudan (GDP of $285 / year, less than $1 / day per person). The government has in recent years experienced significant turmoil with the current president occupying a third term in spite of Constitutional restrictions against such a role. The official languages are French and Kirundi with some Swahili being spoken near the Tanzania border.
The GSM work in Burundi is dispersed across the country with activities in the cities of Bujumbura (the Capital), Karusi, Cancuzo, Mwaro and the newest centers to open in Kayanza and Ngozi. The most common work across these centers is Counselor and Samaritan training. The Samaritan story is told, acted out, re-told and re-enacted scores of times with 100’s of people being trained on the Samaritan Spirit. At the end of the training a formal graduation is held, some years even including caps and gowns. It is a proud and important experience for all who participate, many of whom have never even graduated from High School.
Eddy has developed other programs in the Centers including: Medical Assistance, Children’s education, Agricultural development (farming and piggery), Social Services (focused on widows and orphans), Leadership training and even home building.
All of these programs are important to a well rounded curriculum of meeting the communities’ needs. The one which serves the GSM legacy is the Leadership Training. It is an opportunity for the people of Burundi to ensure that the Samaritan work is carried on for years to come by future Province and Ngozi Country Directors walking in the footsteps of both Jeremie and Eddy.
About the Author:
Ed Markiewicz serves as the Chairman of Good Samaritan Ministries’ International Board. Ed is the owner of The Energy Bar, a local healthy-eating establishment in downtown Portland OR. He also works with the Catholic charities as a representative for refugees.