Greetings from the Campus of Hope Africa University

Posted on Jul 4, 2013 | 2 comments

Gerald Bates, president of Friends of Hope Africa University, is now serving as Rector of the University for the transition after Bishop Elie Buconyori’s death. Greetings, friends, from the campus of Hope Africa University in Bujumbura, Burundi. Marlene and I have been here almost four weeks now and are pretty well settled in to our house provided by the University.  The house has basic furniture but it is always an adventure to set up a home with all the things it takes.  We have done a lot of shopping!  Our home is located in a quiet area near to the office complex of the President of the country, and about one-half mile from downtown Bujumbura. Marlene is working with some of her African ladies to re-hab what has been known as the “Hughes House”, a guest facility on campus.  It will be renamed “Cookie Cottage” in honor of Lorie Hughes who, during her eight years on campus (while husband Bob headed up the English department) made thousands of cookies and shared them generously with students, construction workers, night watchmen, missionaries–anyone on campus, spreading joy and encouragement.  On campus she was known as the “Cookie Lady.” Now she is in Wenatchee, Washington stricken with Lou Gehrig’s disease, faithfully cared for by Bob and other family. I am learning what it means to be Rector of a complex and growing university of over 5,000 students.  Just getting to know the 20+ department heads is a task, along with understanding their needs and aspirations.  We are blessed to have a very gifted and committed leadership group.  It is a pleasure to work with them.  And we share lots of vision!  The challenge is to have the wisdom to discern what is most important and what is most doable.  I am reminded of a story my grandfather used to tell about climbing a steep hill in SE Ohio where I grew up.  Someone suggested they were out of wind.  My grandfather exclaimed, “What do you mean out of wind!?  I have got more wind than I can blow!”  Sometimes I feel I have more vision than … (Insert whatever you do with such a surplus.)  I have stacks of “vision” coming to my desk, and am blessed by it.  Life would be a dull placed without it! We returned last week from Kibuye Hope Hospital where we took part in dedicating some new buildings built by partner World Relief and, with builder Rev. Salvatori, marked out the foundation of a new two story student dorm. This student facility is urgently needed for our growing numbers of medical and nursing students who do their clinical training at the hospital. On the Bujumbura campus, in early September we will start construction on the Dale and Evelyn Rupert Heath Hospitality Center on campus.  It will be a four-apartment, two story structure to provide housing for short-term volunteer professors.  The naming recognizes particularly the long missionary career of Evelyn Rupert here in Burundi.  (She was, significantly, one of the teachers of our new Bishop Nzigo.) I want to share with you some of the Universiy’s immediate needs: 1.   Assistance with...

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Dr. Frank Ogden recognized by Friends of Hope Africa University

Posted on May 30, 2013 | 1 comment

The board of directors of Friends of Hope Africa University sought to give special recognition to Dr. Frank Ogden for the many years of medical practice and leadership he has provided Hope Africa University and Kibuye Hope Hospital. A plaque was awarded to Dr. Ogden by Friends of HAU President Gerald Bates at a dinner the day before the board meeting. The inscription on the plaque read: FRIENDS OF HOPE AFRICA UNIVERSITY Presented to Frank W. Ogden, MD, by Friends of Hope Africa University in appreciation of his faithful and heroic service to the medical ministry and the cause of the gospel in central Africa and especially at Kibuye Hope Hospital. Many are the patients, students and doctors who join with us in recognizing with gratitude his contribution to their lives and ours. Seattle, Washington May 10, 2013 Gerald E. Bates, President   Because President Bates will be going to Burundi to serve as rector of HAU during the interim the duties of the president were assigned to Vice-president Wayne McCown at the meeting the next day. Dr. McCown will represent Friends of HAU on the Governing Board of Hope Africa...

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Gerald Bates to be Transitional Leader

Posted on Apr 30, 2013 | 3 comments

All those with interest in Hope Africa University have been saddened by the death of Bishop Elie Buconyori, a founder and the Rector of Hope Africa University. Dr. Buconyori died of cancer on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013. Bishop Elie’s death is a huge loss to the university, the Burundi Free Methodist Church and to the nation of Burundi. In recognition of Bishop Elie’s contributions to the nation in so many areas, the street that passes Hope Africa University and the Van Norman Clinic has been named “Chaussée Monseigneur Elie Buconyori”. President Pierre Nkurunziza awarded a national medal of honor to Bishop Buconyori. Bishop Elie’s accomplishments were many and varied. As leader of the Free Methodist Church of Burundi he saw continual growth even during the civil war that drove thousands of refugees to neighboring countries. His commitment to education led to the formation of primary and secondary schools for refugees and ultimately, in cooperation with church leaders from DR Congo and Rwanda, the founding of Hope Africa University. His leadership skills were recognized by international academic and religious organizations and his wise counsel was valued by many in the national government. Bishop Buconyori’s decline in health was rapid and his death was unexpected so finding a replacement for him as Rector will take some time. To help with this transition the Board of Governors of the university has asked Dr. Gerald Bates to serve as a transitional leader while the board conducts a search for a new rector for the school. Gerald Bates is uniquely qualified to serve in this capacity. He and his wife Marlene served in Burundi as missionaries for many years so the languages and culture are familiar to them. They both are founding members of Friends of Hope Africa University board of directors and have been involved with the planning and support of the university since its inception. Gerald is President of Friends of Hope Africa University and, as such, has served on the Governing Board of HAU throughout its history. Dr. Bates has a PhD from Michigan State University and served as interim President of Spring Arbor University in 2007-2008. Even though this assignment comes several years into their retirement the Bates feel that this is an area where they can help. Gerald says, “After considering the implications and the need Marlene and I have decided that we will accept the invitation of the Board of Governors of Hope Africa University to come to the university as rector for a transition period. The board feels that they do not have a candidate at this time and that they need our help. Our target date for arriving at HAU is on or around June 1. We envision periods of 3-4 months in Burundi with interspersed months back in the US. We are now in regular contact with HAU. Things are going well. We must give immense credit to second-level leaders who have taken in a new class of over 1,000 new students, assigned all the students to classes and provided instructors. There are, however, many things that need to be cared for and many administrative matters to deal with. We would appreciate your prayers as we make all the adjustments that are necessary to prepare for this assignment.” If you would like to help with the...

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Notes from Nursing Educator Mikel Allen

Posted on Sep 4, 2012 | 0 comments

I am trying to settle back into life here in the US after my two months in Burundi. What an amazing time — I fell in love with the people and the students and country! I can see why people continue to go back there every year. What a privilege it was for me to be a part of the education of these future nurses. My seventy-one students were a very bright group, and so eager to learn. I have been teaching nursing for six years, and have never before met such a motivated group of students. Although I knew no French or Kirundi, and English was a 3rd or 4th language for most of my students somehow we understood each other. I ended up teaching two courses, instead of the one I had intended because after the end of the first course the students begged me to teach the next course as well. And I couldn’t say no! I was able to engage the students in stimulating classroom discussions. They not only presented to their classmates on different topics but they also had the opportunity to teach local widows and people from the nearby church about a variety of different health topics. I was so proud of them, but mostly they were proud of themselves, and of what they had accomplished! When I arrived, I found out that none of the nursing students had stethoscopes. I was able to get 50 donated from WorldScopes to arrive in October, and I purchased 30 others which arrived before I left. I was delighted to be able to give 30 of the students their own stethoscope. The others will get theirs in October. They were very excited, and there was no fighting over who got them before I left and who would wait. I also was able to spend a week at Kibuye Hope Hospital working with the nurses and medical students there, and spent a week with the Sister Connection widows group during the kids camp, teaching about malaria, HIV/AIDS, abstaining from sex until marriage, and other health questions the kids had. I had an amazing experience at HAU — I am already trying to figure out how to get back...

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Boots on the Ground 8: Will

Posted on Jul 16, 2012 | 1 comment

Nefosha After the delivery of unexpected twins I continued rounds. Normal stuff, at least for Africa: In one bed there was a child who was attacked by a hyena. Next to him was a boy who fell out of a tree and broke his femur. A few patients had meningitis (an infection of the central nervous system), and lots of patients had malaria so we monitored their progress. Then we got to our last patient of the day: Nefosha, a 19 year old woman with a damaged heart valve and severe heart failure. I didn’t think it was possible but somehow Nefosha looked even worse than she had the day before. In addition to her usual shortness of breath and exhaustion she had severe chest pain. Her heart was beating so hard that her entire left chest rose and fell with each beat but her pulse was too weak to be felt. She had developed an irregular heart beat (something was wrong with her heart’s electrical system) and in order to know what was wrong we needed to look at an EKG. Unfortunately the nearest hospital with an EKG machine and medications to treat arrhythmias was in Gitega, 45 minutes away. We called the hospital and they said we could come but their cardiologist was gone. They would be able to get an EKG for us but they would need me to come with her to read the EKG and determine what medicine she needed. An hour later I was taking my first ambulance ride in Burundi. A couple interested medical students went with me and we were successful in getting an EKG. Unfortunately she had a condition called atrial fibrillation and the hospital in Gitega didn’t have any medications that would be useful for treating it. We asked if we could use their defibrillator but it was broken. We were out of options. There was nothing left to do but pray. In America she could get her valve repaired and most likely the repair would allow her to live a healthy life. She would be able to finish college, get married, have children, and have so many of the other things that we take for granted. But instead she was moaning in pain, clutching her chest, and gasping for air as her concerned family took turns comforting her. As the ambulance took us back to Kibuye there was a beautiful sunset in the distance and I found myself hoping that she was seeing its beauty, knowing that it might be her last chance. We arrived after dark and took her back to her bed. The students and I ate a late dinner and returned to the hospital to check on her. No improvement. She was breathing slower, and no longer had the strength to cough up the fluid accumulating in her lungs. Her sister was lying in bed with her and the rest of her family surrounded her bed. Without a miracle she wasn’t going to make it through the night. We asked the family if we could pray for her and Blaze, one of the students, asked God to perform a miracle. After the prayer Blaze asked me if I knew what her name meant. He told me that her name,...

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