The place where jogging is against the law…
The UN World Happiness Report 2016 recently classified one of my favorite places as the unhappiest country on earth. Burundi, where Plant With Purpose has been working since 2008, is, according to the report, unhappier than even Syria. This is in due in part to the political crisis which is profiled in an article from Outside Magazine, entitled How Jogging Became an Act of War .
Burundi has been locked in an intense political stalemate, which has further weakened the economy of what is possibly the most malnourished country on earth, while rendering daily activities exceedingly dangerous.
However, in the midst of this, our local staff has persevered – risking intimidation, fuel shortages, and occasional gun battles to serve the poor farmers in the countryside. In fact they have more than persevered. They have excelled.
Nearly 300,000 trees have been planted in the last six months – a sure sign of hope for the future, while 25 new churches have signed on to learn about their identity in Christ and understand the vocation and calling God has for them. They join 65 churches who are already participating in our theology of work curriculum.
New savings groups are being added, and perhaps most remarkably, savings rates are increasing, as people see the savings groups as their one secure refuge in a time of great uncertainty. In the last year the average savings per family per week has increased from forty cents to nearly one dollar. The savings groups are not just an economic opportunity, but they are the core of community, and we have placed a great deal of emphasis on making them places of reconciliation and mutual support.
As the political crisis puts new strains on communities and threatens to revive decades of civil war, I am thankful to our team for bravely continuing to share hope and opportunity.