Burundi, Africa….a Mission to Help the Hurting in a Land of Beauty

Group Picture in Burundi with Text

On August 10th, 2012, my wife and I, along with two friends from our church, were blessed to have the opportunity to take a mission trip to the county of Burundi, Africa.

Cornerstone Medical Recruiting, a company owned by my wife and myself, has supported The Cries of a Child in Burundi Africa for the last three and a half years.  The Cries of a Child (TCOAC), founded by Isai and Samantha Torres, was established to help orphaned and abandoned children and vulnerable people in Burundi suffering from poverty to be restored and given a hope for their futures.  Isai and Samantha Torres, the Founders of The Cries of a Child, have lived in Burundi since February of 2009.The projects of The Cries of a Child  directly target the spiritual and physical needs of the children and the surrounding community through a children’s village called “The Village of Jeremiah 29:11”, located in the mountains of Bukeye upon 4 ½ acres of land.  The focus of the children’s village consists of children’s homes, a meeting room, clinic and trade school.

Having never been to any country in Africa before, I can tell you that I had preconceived ideas about what Burundi would look like. After seeing Burundi,I can also tell you that it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure to visit. Burundi is very mountainous, with rolling hill after hill of lush green flora and plants.  The weather there is almost consistently comfortable, averaging in the low 80’s Fahrenheit during the day to the upper 5o’s to low 60’s Fahrenheit at night.  Our team that participated in this mission trip consisted of myself, Janet Baer- Lile (my wife), Kelly Thoenen, and Joshua Botello.

From left to right : Janet Baer- Lile (Owner of Cornerstone Medical Recruiting), Kelly Thoenen, Samantha Torres (Founder of The Cries of a Child), Isai Torres (Founder of the Cries of a Child), Joshua Botello, Mark Lile (Co-Owner of Cornerstone Medical Recruiting)

Burundi (pronounced [buˈɾundi]), officially the Republic of Burundi, is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its size is just under 28,000 km²  (approximately the size of the State of Maryland) with an estimated population of over 10,000,000.  Its capital is Bujumbura. Although the country is landlocked, much of the southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.

Burundi is one of the ten poorest countries in the world.  It has one of the lowest per capita GDP of any nation in the world. Burundi has a low gross domestic product largely due to civil wars, corruption, poor access to education, and the effects of HIV/AIDS.   Burundi has very little access to medical care, and what medical care does exist is not good at all. Consider some of these facts about Burundi, Africa:

  • Social and economic indicators have regressed to levels of 30 yrs ago
  • On the average, life expectancy in Burundi is only around 50 years of age
  • Infant mortality rate is 190 per 1,000 births
  • Illiteracy rate is 52%
  • School attendance is 48%
  • 54% of the population lives on less than $1 per day
  • Working children ages 5 to 14 is at 31.2 %

Even amidst all the poverty and pain in this impoverished country, the people of Burundi are a kind, loving, and generally happy people.  They are always quick to greet you with a smile.  The lesson quickly becomes clear, that happiness is not dependent on wealth or material possessions, but is a decision that must be made on a daily basis.

If you would like more information about the terrific work being done by The Cries of a Child, you can visit The Cries of a Child online at www.thecriesofachild.org. 

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Mark

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