Election Storm

Posted on Jun 15, 2015 | 2 comments

For over a decade I ran a 34 foot inboard diesel boat on Lake Tanganyika. We had several scary experiences with storms and, one time, a near collision with a fishing trawler (at which time one member of the crew said, “My soul had already left my body!”). The country of Burundi has been going through a storm surrounding the upcoming elections. There have been protests, some deaths, and scores of thousands of refugees into neighboring countries. Universities in the capital city are closed. HAU is operating with a small administrative staff and very little academic activity. We have a contingent of soldiers on campus for security and we have had no property damage. Some of the international students have not been able to go to their home countries so they are cared for in the dormitory. Our medical extensions, the Van Norman Clinic and Kibuye Hope Hospital have continued to provide services with the exception of the absence of students who have gone to their homes. The branch campus at Gitega (Mweya/Mt. Hope) has continued to operate with students attending classes. Following the advice of the summit of East African Leaders to the leaders of Burundi, elections have been postponed for nearly two months. This means the period of political activity and tension is extended. The memories of the ethnic conflicts of over a decade ago are vivid and so there is much fear. Hope Africa University leaders are monitoring the situation as to when the school can resume normal functions. This crisis will end. When it does the role of Hope Africa University will be even more vital in rebuilding peace and offering hope. Foreign aid has been affected by the tensions thus depressing the national economy. We are anticipating intensified poverty affecting the families who send students to the university. There will also be needs to assist the university in the period where its income is reduced to near zero. Therefore we are asking for gifts in two categories: 1) Scholarships for what we anticipate to be literally thousands of needy students, and 2) General support for the school—administration, utilities, transport. I heard a story recently that seemed to fit: A young boy fell in the river. His father found a piece of old rope which he threw to his son in the water. Then he noticed that the rope was frayed and about to break above where his son was holding on. He shouted to his son, “REACH BEYOND THE BREAK AND HOLD ON!” That is what we are doing for Hope Africa University. We must, in faith, reach beyond the troubles and hold on. When order returns we want to be there, holding on and ready to move forward. I am asking you to join us now–in the mobilizing of finances in readiness–and then in the victory of this great kingdom institution called Hope Africa University as it resumes its stride. Thank you for considering these requests. And please do join us in praying for Hope Africa University and its leaders, and for the nation of Burundi at this critical time. In His glad...

Read More

Busoma Mornings

Posted on Feb 7, 2015 | 0 comments

Kibuye Hope Hospital has initiated the patient feeding program! This program is designed to get warm, nourishing meals to our patients. Right now patients are receiving a cup of warm Busoma porridge in the mornings. We have also been able to include some family members and caretakers in the program. Doctor Carlan Wendler says: “Monday morning, when I walked up the hill to check on the feeding program, I was struck by how quiet the campus was. Normally at that hour all the moms and garde-du-malades (caretakers, who are often family) are outside cooking, washing, chatting and laughing. Today it was unexpectedly quiet, since everyone was inside, getting food! As I made my way past the Isolation Ward, I saw one patient family member outside sipping on his cup of Busoma. “How is it? The Busoma?” I asked in Kirundi. “It’s great! I love Busoma.” The refrain was the same for everyone I asked. The patients and parents were almost embarrassed by how happy they were to receive a meal in the morning from the hospital. The kids were the best. They paid no attention to this doctor-photographer and just chowed down on their porridge. Watching one little guy lean back against his momma’s belly when the cup was finished was enough to keep me smiling all day.” As the hospital continues to grow this program will be expanded. HermanMiller Cares has funded the construction of our Busoma production facilities and is supporting our basic nutrition program through 2016. Right now we’re feeding our patients and, thanks to the heroic generosity of many individual donors, many of their caretakers as well! The program is growing and we will soon be feeding our patients three warm and nourishing meals every day. This will greatly ease the burden that is placed on caretakers and other family members. The next major step in the growth of this program is getting our kitchen facilities finished. Our new canteen will be big enough to cook for all our patients and will also be able to serve as a cafeteria for family and other visitors. We thank the Lord for his guidance and provision so far. Please continue to pray with us for the growth and success of this...

Read More

A New Rector for HAU

Posted on Jan 23, 2015 | 0 comments

  Greetings all, and good news! As of Saturday, January 10, Sylvain Nzohabonayo has been named Rector of Hope Africa University. This decision was made by unanimous action of the university Board of Administration and reviewed by the Burundi Minister of Higher Education and Research. I am personally very pleased with this action and believe it is an answer to many prayers. Sylvain is highly qualified, both personally and professionally. Let me give you a few details. Sylvain is a member of the first graduating class of Hope Africa University, Class of 2004, having begun his studies in Kenya with the very first group of students. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, socio-psychotherapy, and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, counseling (HAU, 2012). He is a doctoral candidate with International Leadership University in Kenya, in Leadership Studies and Public Governance. He has completed his course work and will defend his thesis proposal very soon. His research topic is: “The Importance of Governance and Budgeting Policy Coordination in Enhancing Quality Public Service Delivery in Burundi.” Sylvain is married to Linnet Kasaya, Library Director at HAU, with two children, Brave (2004) and Daniella (2007). Linnet, too, is a Masters graduate of Hope Africa University and has been instrumental in developing one of the best academic libraries in the country. Both serve in their local church and Sylvain characterizes himself as a ‘committed full member of the Free Methodist Church.’ His most recent employment, from which he has been released, was in the office of the President of the Republic of Burundi, as advisor to the First Lady in communications. He is also an adjunct faculty member of HAU in the Social Work and Community Development department. He has had significant international training and experiences, both professional and in connection with his work in government. I’d also like to share some personal observations from my long friendship with Sylvain. He and his wife Linnet have been our friends since our first term on the campus of Hope Africa University in Kenya, where Sylvain was a member of one of the classes I taught on Leadership. He is loyal to Hope Africa University and its dreams and vision, and is well-known as a committed passionate Christian, a man of impeccable ethics and strength, and a devoted husband and father. He is also known as a hard worker, dedicated to whatever task he is assigned. These characteristics will be important as he takes on the Rector’s responsibilities at the university and aggressively pursues completion of his PhD degree. I am confident that Sylvain is the right man for this position. I will be working hard in the transition period to provide whatever support and orientation I can. I know he and Linnet will appreciate your prayers as he takes on the challenging task of providing leadership to Hope Africa University. -Gerald E. Bates...

Read More

December Graduation

Posted on Dec 26, 2014 | 1 comment

From Gerald Bates, Rector 0f HAU Greetings from Bujumbura, Burundi and Hope Africa University. Yesterday the University launched into African society 620 graduates, among them 24 Medical Doctors, along with those in law, education, theology and Bible, nursing, engineering, business, physiotherapy and other branches. As Rector, it was my privilege to stand on the podium for probably two and a half hours, handing out diplomas, congratulating each one (and embracing a few whose paths have crossed ours at many points). It was simply a great day! As I sat between Bishop Deo and Ezechiel Nibigira, the President of the Board of Governors of the University (a graduate of the University’s first class, with a distinguished record including being ambassador to Kenya and presently the chief procurement officer for the country of Burundi, he and his wife Esperance close friends of ours) I leaned over to him and said, “We have come a long way since the start of the University in Kenya nearly 15 years ago, in a slightly converted bar/roadhouse, with 27 students.” He agreed. The verse that comes to mind is Psalm 118:23, “The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes.” Blessings to all on Christmas, and into the New Year...

Read More

In His Way and Time

Posted on Jul 18, 2014 | 0 comments

It is impossible, or at least very difficult, to survive long term in Africa without local support.  One of our team is our househelper, M, who cooks, does household work, loves to garden, shops for us for food getting good prices–and generally cares for the house while we are working long and constantly changing hours.  He has twelve children, all living.  You know, in a household lives intersect so we live with him through ups and downs.  A couple of months ago the mother of his children had serious surgery.  It was performed by a surgeon who also teaches at Hope Africa University and was aware of our special interest in the case.  She is now home and recovered although for a time she could not hoe. Other members of our household are our security guards who watch over us 24-7.  M was a very close friend of one of our watchmen who was tragically killed on duty at our home.  The guard was a serious Christian and from our Free Methodist Church in Congo. M was raised Catholic but something seems to be happening in his life.  After all these years, and twelve children, he recently has been confirmed as a Catholic Christian and, now, to our surprise, he announces happily that he and the mother of his children will be married on August 9! This is out of our tradition but we praise the Lord as M testifies of how God answered his  prayers and his gratitude for the healing of his companion.  We think the life of our guard who was killed, who read his Bible every morning, had an influence on M who mourned him for many days, standing and looking off into space.  We can only rejoice at all this and see it as God’s doing.  Today I told the surgeon of this story and he was both amazed and happy, insisting he must have an invitation to the wedding. We are ‘kingdom’ people and believe we see that kingdom working in this life and family.  Unexpected?  Yes.  A bit out of our usual pattern?  Yes.  Should we be surprised?  No.  God does things like this–in His own way and time. –Gerald...

Read More

Dr. Cropsey Awarded

Posted on Jul 7, 2014 | 0 comments

Dr. John Cropsey has been recognized by the American Academy of Ophthalmology for his work in Africa. The full write up from the Academy can be found on their website. “The Academy’s Board of Trustees and Senior Ophthalmologist Committee is proud to announce the inaugural 2014 recipient of the Artemis Award: John M. Cropsey, MD; nominated by Wills Eye Institute.” Dr. Cropsey was nominated for his dedication to serving the needs of the poor and underserved. He has done so while sacrificing the lifestyle that most of us (and our families) take for granted. He faces often unimaginable daily challenges with a positive and compassionate attitude that has been contagious to the Wills residents who have had the chance to volunteer beside him. About the Award First awarded in 2014, the Artemis Award recognizes a young ophthalmologist Academy member who has demonstrated caring and service of an exemplary degree to his/ her patients. The Greek goddess Artemis was the protector and nurturer of the vulnerable and suffering. The Artemis Award is intended to acknowledge behavior above and beyond what is required or expected. Examples of such contributions include outreach to seniors; focused efforts to address health care disparities; initiation of educational programs geared to patients; or design of community-based programs which emphasize compassion and quality care. Such actions are not limited...

Read More