Monday we travelled three hours by road to the most distant part of the Diocese of Buyé.
We made a brief stop at a spring at Kobero. A spring may not sound like much to most in Canada, but here in Burundi having a clean and reliable source of water is important. The Church has taken on the task of adding some improvements to about six springs in the country, making a concrete facility with a pipe leading to the spring in the ground, so that anyone can come and collect fresh, clean water. We tasted it. Delicious!
The spring water flows into a small river nearby and eventually joins the Nile. Along the way it feeds nearby rice fields and other crops such as potatoes.
As just about everywhere we go in Burundi, a crowd of curious young men gathered to see what we were doing at the spring. We gave them our greetings in our best Kirundi, and were off on our way.
Next we made two stops in Giteranyi Parish. First we were welcomed with song into the parish church itself by a large group of people. This is the parish where Bishop Sixbert was born and raised, and we were able to meet his sister at the church and his eldest brother later at the primary school.
Again at the church we were greeted by the Archdeacon, who is also their parish priest, and treated to some Burundian singing. We brought greetings from the Diocese of Edmonton.
We were told that Giteranyi was completely evacuated during the civil war, as it is right in the corner between Rwanda and Tanzania. Both countries are withing three or four kilometres of where we were. Now the region is being repopulated by returnees who are resettling in their old home district.
The next stop was the primary school where Bishop Sixbert was educated. There we met the over 1200 students. It seemed as though we met them all at the same time. We saw two classes and met the students and teachers, and then two student groups presented dances to us.
Finally we went to see the new high school and heard of plan to build a college. We were told of the challenges the two schools face. We were impressed by the dedication of the teachers and the energy of the students of both schools.
Leaving Giteranyi parish we journeyed to Kimeza, where the diocese has a farm. The farm operates as a demonstration project to teach agricultural methods. It also produces seedlings such as a high-quality banana variety which are given to surrounding farmers to cultivate. We were treated to a sumptuous lunch before hitting the road for the long journey home.
Arriving back at Ngozi near sundown (6:00 p.m.) we joined a house group at Canon Desiderata's home. There we read the Bible, prayed, sang and ate. It was a very warm reception and a splendid meal including goat, rice, cassava, yams, bananas, beef, chicken, potatoes, peas and more. Although we had been strangers just a few days earlier, we already saw several familiar faces among the thirty-odd people who gathered, and we really felt at home.
It was a long and somewhat tiring day, but the best day yet.
Imana ishimwe – praise God.