Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mother's Union Conference

I'm sorry waiting so long without a real update! Things have been very busy the last few weeks and on top of it I got a bad flu and fever I am still getting over and then also got a bad stomach bug. Today I finally feel like I have a real minute to update you all (and catch up a little on sleep).

This week I was lucky enough to spend my week with these crazy ladies:

These are the trainers for the Anglican Church of Burundi's savings and loans programs throughout the country. They are in charge of training facilitators of savings and loans groups in different parishes and monitoring and evaluating these programs and their facilitators. These groups are found throughout each of the 7 diocese that make up the Anglican Church of Burundi. 

These beautiful ladies were here for a week discussing the impact of their programs, the successes and challenges, and their hopes for the future of this program.

I'm so glad that I got to be a part of the conversation with them in this exciting time of growth in their programs. They are doing amazing work that is really making a difference in the communities they are serving, not just in terms of economic development but also in spiritual growth, women's empowerment, community organizing, promoting healthy family dynamics, and increased church membership and participation. They are all wonderful examples of people who are working as the hands and feet. (And their sass and sense of humor made the week not only productive and meaningful but very fun.)

I learned this through conversations with trainers as I helped them develop PowerPoint reports on there programs and impact as well as large group conversations. I also had the opportunity last week to go on a couple field visits up country to see these savings and loans groups in action and to hear testimonies from some of the people whose lives have been impacted through these programs. Here are a few pictures from the savings and loans group meetings I visited: 

In order to be a part of these groups, members must participate in literacy programs run by the parishes. Once they have completed the literacy program they join the savings and loans groups and learn how to create small business plans (such as growing and selling tomatoes). Each week members bring their savings to the group and it is recorded. They also bring money for an "emergency fund" which is used to give out as loans to members when needed. For example, one mother in a group that I observed received a loan from the emergency fund in order to buy school uniforms for her children. A lot of the women I heard from in these groups were widows and were left with nothing to support their families. These programs enabled them to create sustainable livelihoods for their families. Some of the men I heard from learned the advantages of saving their money each week instead of drinking it away. The stories that I heard were really powerful and speak to the influence and blessings that the trainers bring to their diocese.

I am so grateful for the chance to have heard these stories and to have shared a week, many meals, and so many good laughs with these wonderful women who are really making an impact in their communities.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mailing Address

Hello friends and family!

Some of you have been asking for my address, so I thought it might be easier to post it here!

Carolyn Hockey
c/o Eglise anglicane du Burundi
B.P. 2098
34 Chaussée de l'Agriculture
Bujumbura, Burundi

Thank you all so much for your continued support during my time here! I could not and would not be here without all of your love and encouragement. It means more to me than I can tell you!

With love,

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Well, I have officially been in Bujumbura for three weeks! It seems crazy that almost a month has already gone by. I am slowly getting to know the city and the culture.

One weekend I was able to visit the zoo. It was really interesting and really neat to be able to get up close to some of the animals. There is a picture somewhere of me holding a (small) python! The zoo was an experience, but also maybe not great in the animal rights department. I was able to meet this guy though:

I also ended that night by watching hippos fighting in the lake! 

I was also able to go to a church service at the cathedral in Bujumbura. I went to the early French service. There were about 150 people there probably and I had to introduce myself to all of them (unexpectedly). It was a good time though. Very similar to the service at home, but with different music! I didn't take this picture, but here is a view of the entrance to the cathedral! 

The geography new me is like this from west to east: lake, city, hills. My neighborhood is just on the hills on the eastern side of the city. I am a bit out of town, but it is nice and I really like where I am living. I skipped it this weekend, but the other weekends I was able to go on a hike up into the hills by my house. There were some pretty incredible views of the city from there. And the hills themselves are very pretty. The colors are great too. It is a good climb! A lot of it is like steep stairs just going up and up and endlessly up. Here are some pictures of the hills, and a view from part way up looking down at the city and the lake!

Speaking of exercise, the first ever Bujumbura Marathon was held last weekend here! It is the first marathon in Burundi, and was a big success. So many people were there. It was very family friendly and fun. I ran the just ran the 5k. The winner of the half marathon was a former Olympic champion from Kenya. I think that's cheating.

This Sunday I went to the beach! It was really really nice. I swam and read my book in the sun. Doesn't get better than that. In this picture you can see the other side of the city! Instead of looking down from the hills, you can look over from the lake. Perspective.

The little boat is a water taxi I think. Though I'm not sure where he'd go. Maybe a restaurant down the beach.

Work is starting (slowly)! I will be working with the Anglican Province of Burundi a lot with their programs relating to sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). I never thought I would be working in this field, but I am actually really excited about it! More to come on that hopefully. Last week we met with some people from Episcopal Relief and Development who consulted with us about a plan for the future. It was a great meeting and made me really hopeful about the work to come. I am so grateful for being here at the start of such an important project.

As some of you may have seen in the news recently, three Italian nuns were brutally killed and raped in Bujumbura. It is not clear yet what the motivation was for these terrible murders. I am safe and in a really safe neighborhood, though not terribly far from where the nuns lived. Please pray for them, for those who knew them, their ministries, and for those who carried out the murders.