Lots to Talk About…

Hey everyone!

Wow, it’s been almost a month since we’ve been able to blog last, and tons has happened. It’s time to fill you all in! GET READY!

  • Our good, good friends, Dean and Melissa Edwards, flew all the way here from Airdrie, Alberta, to pay us a welcome visit! They arrived May 5th, and will be with us until the 31st! In addition to bringing welcome goodies, treats, and letters from home, they also brought me my road bike for the Tour du Burundi!
  • The Bike Tour has been delayed a day, due to a number of bikes not arriving. We are hoping for everything to arrive today in Bujumbura. Dean will also be joining me on the bike ride, doubling the number of Canadians! All in all, ten men will be on the Tour, 6 from the UK, 2 Americans, and 2 Canucks. We start tomorrow!
  • Funds for the bike ride continue to come in. It’s never too late! They will be used directly for the purchasing of supplies and equipment to get the clinic up and running! We are also investigating how to best use solar power to run the clinic.
  • I want to sincerely thank the team over at United Cycle, whose generosity and willingness to help is what is going to allow me to participate in the Tour. They sent over countless items, including bike shorts, chain lubricant, spare tires, it has been amazing.
  • Nadine, Melissa, Dean and I had the opportunity to speak in front of a group of 80+ local church leaders, telling them about Operation Christmas Child (with Samaritan’s Purse). This is the first time ever OCC is working in Burundi, and they have partnered with Burundi Youth for Christ to hand out these boxes to children all across the country. The program allows local churches to reach out to their communities in a tangible way. Nadine and I will be involved in handing out the boxes directly sometime in June!
  • After a few meetings, the Shammah Medical Clinic is proud to announce a partnership with LifeNet International. You can find out more information here. They are going to be assisting us in educating our staff, keeping patient care standards elevated, and routinely visiting us to provide ongoing support. Their vision for the clinic is directly in line with ours and BYFC, so we’re thrilled about this opportunity.
  • The head physician for the province of Gitega was to inspect our clinic this past May 15th, Nadine’s birthday! Unfortunately, he cancelled last minute and the inspection was postponed to next Wednesday, the 22nd. This will serve as a re-introduction for the clinic to the Ministry of Health, as we hope to partner with them to have this clinic serve the community. We may even receive final permission from the Government to open the clinic doors! We are still a long ways away, and will most likely be looking at opening either this fall or late 2013. We’ll be introducing you all to the clinic in a more tangible way in an upcoming post!
  • The four of us took the opportunity last weekend to pay a visit to Hermes and Passi, Harvest for Christ volunteers that work with the Batwa population, a tribal group here in Burundi chained in poverty and disease. More on that in another post!
  • We were blessed to take some time to visit the Karera waterfalls, a gorgeous park located in Burundi with stunning falls! In French, it is Chute, and the Burundians pronounce it a little more like a certain four letter word. It’s pretty entertaining. Do you want to go see the Big Chute or the Little Chute? Haha!
  • After lessons from my good buddy Ladd Serwat, I am up and running on our new motorbike. We’ve had the chance to see a great deal of the country traveling on it! What a beautiful country we live in! Such a blessing. It sure saves on gas money for trips into town for errands, supplies and internet use!
  • We also began our health teaching at Gitega International Academy, BYFCs secondary school here in Gitega. In addition to being health consultants, performing inspections, and seeing sick students, we have been developing a health curriculum that we will be implementing in small stages at the school. We will also work with BYFC’s primary school, Homes of Hope, to roll out health-based programming for elementary aged kids, and hopefully interested parents too! It is a massive undertaking, but health education and disease prevention is the name of the game! So far, we have had meetings with the cleaning and cooking staff, the house parents, the teachers, and have had several teaching sessions with the kids.
  • Dean and I, along with Callum and Zach, some other BYFC volunteers, stretched our muscles and put our manliness to good use in building our benches for the waiting room at the clinic!
  • In preparation for opening, and the inspection, we have been ordering furniture and purchasing supplies, and investigating the availability and pricing of equipment here. We have also spent sometime on the clinic roof, which looks like it may have to be replaced. With improper design and materials, we may need to look at completely rebuild the roof if we hope to protect our equipment and supplies, as well as provide a safe environment for our patients. We are praying for discernment and wisdom with this issue!
  • Melissa and Nadine have been hard at work organizing, sorting, storing, cleaning, just doing about everything inside the clinic. We have a clean linens room, dirty linens, our offices are shaping up, storage rooms look great, it’s amazing! We will be uploading photos to show off their hard work soon.

Wow, that’s a massive list, and it’s been too long since our last post, but thanks for sticking with us!

I will be doing my best to blog every evening of our Tour across Burundi, so that you guys can participate with us in that adventure! I’ll be filming, taking pictures, and doing everything I can to document this for you all back home!

So, look for us soon, hopefully I’ll be writing to you all tomorrow night after Day 1 of the bike ride has been completed! Please, remember to share with your friends and family, and on Facebook! Thank you for joining with us in this great adventure. God bless, and talk to you all soon!

~ Josh ~

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