Thursday, August 27, 2009

Batwa Pygmy Clean Water Project

The howFar Foudation, in partnership with the Rotary Club of North Gwinnett and the Interact Club at North Gwinnett High School, has introduced 100 WAPI's (Water Pasteurization Indicators) into the Beterere Slum outside of Bujumbura, Burundi.

The Beterere slum is populated by over 6,500 displaced Batwa who have been relocated from their ancestral homelands, in the mountains of Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC, to protect the Mountain Gorella and to make way for logging concerns.

The Batwa Pygmies have been hunters and gatherers for centuries but are now forced to look for new ways to provide for themselves. Crude pottery and brick making are their only options and provide little income.

The 6,500 inhabitants of the Beterere Slum depend on a single shallow water well that cannot meet the demand for water in the village. The Twa are driven to shallow pools of standing rain water which is always contaminated.

The WAPI is a simple devise that indicates when water has reached pasteurization and is safe to drink.

Four hundred and fifty WAPI's were introduced into remote villages in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi in May of 2009.

For more photos see

Friday, August 14, 2009

NEW CHURCH PLANT: Mudja Baptist Church, DRC

When I returned from East Africa in May I shared my joy by reporting that we had been blessed to partner with Kingdom Fellowship Church of Central Africa in the planting of a brand new church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

You may remember that the DRC has been embroiled in a conflict with rebels in its northeastern region for the last several years. While hostilities have slowed tensions remain high within the region. Heavily armed UN peacekeeping forces, and the DRC military, have a huge presence in the area and patrol twenty-fours hours a day.

"United Nations Peacekeeping Soldier near Goma, DRC"

(Click on images to enlarge)

The cities of northeast DRC are filled with refugees fleeing from the brutality of the rebels. The streets are filled with women and children who have lost their husbands, many raped by men infected with HIV.

It is in this tumultuous region that this new church has been planted.

"Batwa in Mudja Village"

Approximately thirty kilometers due north of Goma lies the village of Mudja. It is inhabited by 7200 Batwa Pygmy's and people from the Bakumu Tribe. There are no evangelical churches in the area. However, I was very surprised when I asked the Batwa Elder what religion he was. "True Bahai", he replied.

We must not forget that evangelical Christians are not the only people who hope to spread their beliefs throughout the world. Cults of every kind send their representatives "to the ends of the earth", as well. This knowledge alone should cause us to intensify our commitment to investing time, energy and resources into the work of combating the message of death spread by the evil one.

"A DRC freight hauler!"

While in Mudja village the elders committed to give land for the church.

I just received word that the king of the province (Yes, there are still kings in parts of Africa), Sultani wa Mukowa Mudogo wa Rusayo, has given us a parcel of land of approximately 5 acres!

"An area near our new church property"

We'll begin raising funds to build a small church for the saints at Mudja village immediately. A structure that complements their lifestyle will cost approximately $4000 USD.

"A photo I just received of the new Mudja Church Members"

"Batwa Child in Mudja Village"

To make matters worse, the village lies only 10 kilometers from Mount Nyiragongo, an active volcano. Half of the city of Goma was destroyed in 2002 when Nyiragongo erupted. Recently, scientist have recorded increased activity and heat coming from Mount Nyiragongo, and its sister volcano, Mount Nyamulagira, which lies 25 kilometers away. Experts are predicting that Nyamulagira may soon erupt.

"Steam rises from the active volcano"

The villagers in Mudja can see clouds of steam and smoke coming from Mount Nyiragongo and the air in the area is frequently thick with volcanic ash. By night, you can often see the red glow of burning lava trickling out of the summit of the nearest volcano.

"Phillip Haynes waits outside for the little SUV to cross a lava flow"

We were unable to use our own car to get to Mudja. The terrain is covered by rough lava flows and rocks making it necessary to borrow a 4WD SUV.

"Traditional Batwa Pygmy hut"

For us, living in the shadow of an active volcano is far from our reality. We live safely within the cocoon of our suburban American lives. We have more than we can consume. Even in our recession we enjoy a standard of living far above the rest of the world. For us, there is little sense of urgency to change anything within our comfortable lives. But for the villagers of Mudja, who live in imminent danger, news of a Savior who offers eternal life, brings joy and comfort and peace as never before. It is a change that the elect will exuberantly embrace.

"Peter said unto them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.' Acts 2:38-39