Can it really be 6 months since we left England and headed back home to Burundi? They say time flies when you’re having fun!!!! So, here we are again, preparing for another manic Christmas in the Nahimana Household. This year it looks like we will be hitting the 85 mark for Christmas lunch yet again, with 60 boys, 8 staff, 14 relatives, as well as the usual assortment of folks from church who have no family and nowhere to go… A small family Christmas just wouldn’t be the same!
O.K., so family news first. Josiah has fitted into African life like a dream. He is the happiest, most smiley baby I have ever known and is perfectly content to be passed around all the children and adults who we meet without a problem. He has now perfected the art of crawling and although is pretty quick on his knees, his commando crawl reaches tremendous speeds across the concrete floor. Josiah now has 2 teeth and with the amount he is dribbling, I am sure more will be following soon.
Bethany, on the other hand, was over the moon to lose her first tooth last month. She had been convinced that she was destined to keep her baby teeth until she was a lady and was concerned how she would look with a big face and tiny teeth! She continues to do well at school and is a wonderful big sister to Josiah and Abi. Abigail is a delight – she still has a will as strong as cast iron, but is learning that when Mum says, ‘No’, she means it! Abi is a fantastic mover and has us all in fits of laughter as she shakes her ‘booty’ to whatever music is playing.
Honda and I are kept busy as usual with all the children and teenagers we are caring for. Our time in England showed us the value of spending time together, so we now try to do this whenever possible.
The last few months have been financially ‘interesting’ for us here in Burundi. Since we returned at the start of June, the pound has lost nearly 25% of its value when exchanged with the Burundi Franc. That, combined with a price increase for even the most basic food items of between 15 – 50%, has had us on our knees, but God has proved faithful through it all, and each month we have miraculously had enough to cover our needs. I don’t understand what the ‘credit crunch’ is, I am just grateful that we serve a God who is not bound by earthly financial constraints! Thank you so much to all of you who have responded to God’s prompting and have sent gifts over the last few months. They have really been vital in keeping feeding all the people in our care.
So, Restoration of Hope developments…. As usual these have been many! Since we returned, 4 new boys have joined the R.O.H family. Arnaud, 12 years, was born and spent the first 5 years of his life in prison with his mum. His mum, who is also HIV positive, was released because of psychiatric problems and is unable to care for Arnaud any more. Since the death of his parents 5 years ago, Emile, also 12, has been cared for by a neighbour. Recently the neighbour lost his job and so is unable to continue to provide for Emile as well as his own 6 children.
Jean-Claude, 15 years, does not know the whereabouts of his parents or even if they are still alive. He has spent his entire life moving between short term care centres and the streets. Now back in school, hopefully ROH will provide him with the stability he needs to be able to make something of his life and work towards a more productive future. Lastly, Honda brought home Eric, aged 12, 2 weeks ago. He says his parents are dead and he has been living on the streets or with anyone who would help him for the past 3 years. Please pray that for all 4 of these boys, 2009 will be a year of dramatic change.
Through the generosity of someone in the UK, ROH has also helped Mussa aged 4, a little boy begging on the streets with his alcoholic father, to have a hernia operation. Honda remains in contact with Mussa and is looking at ways of helping him get an education once he is 5 years old.
We are also helping Jan, a 17 year old girl that Honda discovered, begging on the streets with her premature twins. Honda was horrified to find her sitting in the gutter, amongst the rubbish and exhaust fumes, with her twins who were less that a week old. Although married, Jan’s husband does not have a job and so the only way to get money for food was by begging. ROH now provides Jan with a small income so she can eat and thus is able to breastfeed the twins. The boys are now 3 months old and growing well.
Having decided not to take any more boys in for the moment, Honda, not being one to rest on his laurels has now taken on an entire village! Let me explain…. Last month Honda was taken to visit a village, approximately 10 km away from our house. The village started 14 years ago, with a couple of houses for Internally Displaced People, on a plot of land set aside by the government. The village is hidden away behind the industrial area of the city and most people are not aware of its existence. Today there are 400 small mud houses, which are home to over 2000 people, who are living in desperate poverty. The village has no running water, no sanitation and no electricity. There are no schools for the over 1200 children, the nearest one being a 4 km walk. According to the village chief, only 7 out of 1200 children are in school!
The village has really touched Honda’s heart and he now has a burning desire to see the situation change for the people who call it home. God is a God of transformation and it is His transformation that Honda longs to see in the lives of the poor and needy. By improving the quality of life for the children in the village, hopefully this will result in fewer children ending up on the streets in years to come. Long term the village needs running water, good sanitation, a school; a church …the list goes on. In the short term Honda’s desire is to show the people that they are not forgotten and that Gods love extends to all. Last weekend we took many of our boys along with various volunteers to ‘Bless the village’. We were able to distribute soap and children’s clothes to each family – 12 bars of soap costs approximately 60p – more than a day’s wages for many people and so was a huge blessing to all.
On Friday Honda, our boys and some local pastors and church members are going to begin 2 days of evangelistic meetings in the village. This will involve a combination of praise and worship, preaching and games with prizes – people who live in such poverty have little time usually for fun and games! Please pray that this small start will be the beginning of transformation for the village. Also please pray that Honda has wisdom in knowing who to approach, both within the government here and abroad where necessary, to look into getting running water piped into the village. This would make such a difference to the health of the people, most of whom fetch water from a ditch…not the greatest near the industrial area where all manner of chemicals run into the ditches!
And last, but by no means least, our ROH family. On the whole the boys are doing really well. We have 52 in either school or training programs and another 10 to whom ROH has made one off gifts to cover school fees. We have reshuffled some of the boys between the Hope Houses and this has proved beneficial, both homes now being more peaceful and settled. Ami and John are both doing well and are taking on more oversight for the running of the homes which is great for Honda.
Please continue to pray for the ROH boys. There are a couple who are struggling with past addictions to smoking cannabis, who need to see this broken once and for all. Please pray that all the boys make good strides in their education this year – it would be great if all passed the academic year and none had to repeat.
As this year draws to a close, join with us in thanking God for all the ways He has blessed and is blessing the work of ROH in Burundi. Lives are being changed and futures transformed. Thank you to all of you who are playing such a vital role in helping this come to pass. All your prayers and support are an integral part of ROH and we are so grateful to God for each one of you.
May you know His peace and joy this Christmas and in the year to come.
Honda, Libby, Bethany, Abigail, Josiah and all our boys