Visiting Burundi: Exploring Promising Projects and Partnerships
During the summer our team visited Burundi in parntership with DeafReach to meet with local deaf organisations to explore opportunities to establish projects to support the local deaf community. Burundi is a beautiful country with welcoming people. However, it is has the lowest GDP per capita in the world, indicating that is the poorest country in the world.
We arrived at Bujumbura International Airport, where we were welcomed by representatives from Ephphatha School for the Deaf. We checked into La Tulipe, our hotel, and met with Maurice, the headmaster of Ephphatha, setting the stage for our visit to the school the following day.
Ephphatha Deaf School
As promised, Maurice collected us the next morning for a visit to Ephphatha Deaf School, conveniently located near our accommodation. The classrooms offered a window into the realm of deaf education, where we observed the dedicated interaction between teachers and students. The school exuded a sense of commitment and engagement, leaving a positive impression.
An assembly followed, where we received a warm welcome once again. Students sponsored by DeafReach received their annual results, and we expressed our gratitude for the hospitality. Ally and I were given sign names by the students. Post-assembly, we engaged in a constructive discussion with Maurice and teachers regarding the school's future needs, including their planned relocation to a larger site, accompanied by exciting opportunities and accompanying challenges.
Association Rafael de Burundi (ARB)
Our exploration led us to the Musigati Commune in Bubanza, guided by Andre and members of the ARB board. This picturesque commune, spanning two acres of hilly terrain with breathtaking views, was currenty being used as a day care centre and had the potential to be repurposed into a small school. Two crucial meetings with ARB, one at their Bubanza office and another at our hotel, focused on the project's background, growth potential, and plans for a school accommodating up to 18 deaf children. It was great to spend time with Andre his team and learn more about the work they do and have planned.
A visit to Cibitoke provided valuable insights into a school building boasting 18 classrooms designed for the education of deaf children. Conversations with local government officials, teachers, and students showed the potential scale of the school being able to initially take in 200 students, with 140 of them being deaf. The biggest challenge for the school was financial, as there was a gap in capital funding which was preventing the school from opening.
Deaf Women Self-Development Association of Burundi (ADFSB)
Our schedule for the next day was filled with meetings at our hotel. We commenced with the Deaf Women Self-Development Association of Burundi (ADFSB), a group with remarkable potential and passion. This deaf-led group showed clear understanding of their members needs and unwavering commitment to the work they do.
Burundi National Association of the Deaf (BNAD)
In the afternoon, we met with the Burundi National Association of the Deaf (BNAD), where the enthusiastic chair shared their plans for expanding deafblind provision. This well-established organisation aimed to establish partnerships with international non-governmental organisations.
We met with a local parents' association dedicated to supporting deaf children. Their unwavering passion left us with a compelling project proposal to consider. The small project would teach parents sign language to help them to communicate with their children.
Our journey in Burundi introduced us to remarkable individuals and organisations committed to transforming the lives of the deaf community. While challenges were evident, the dedication, commitment, and growth potential within Burundi's deaf community were equally inspiring. As we departed Burundi, we carried not just the memories of the places we visited but also the dreams and aspirations of the local communities. It feels like our work there had only just begun, and we were eager to continue supporting these remarkable initiatives.