Wednesday, March 23, 2011

THE DOWS - Representing the Restored Gospel and Blessing Many Lives

We just experienced a VERY DIFFERENT WEEK! What a blessing it was to host this amazing couple, Elder John and Sister Marcia Dow. They are Humanitarian Aid Directors for the church. They serve in 28 different countries in Africa, bringing very needed humanitarian aid. They are capable, gentle, compassionate and organized people. We hold them in high esteem.
 We gained some wonderful new friends!

 We visited with Rector Buconyori, who is the President of th Hope Africa University and President of the Free Methodist Church in Burundi who was kind, cordial and very welcoming.  The difference in the Church's approach to donating wheel chairs is VERY DIFFERENT. They focus on serving the poor.  They send in a team of Physical Therapists  from the U.S. who train other Physical Therapists from the chosen country, to know how to "fit" the individual to the chair. Then each individual is fit to the chair which is donated without cost.  When a chair actually is measured  and fits the individual, it keeps many life threateniing injuries and infection from harming the person using the wheelchair.

This is the Director General of the Military Hospital of Kamenge, Gen. Venerand, standing next to Elder Frogley., and his assistant.


We visited the Military Hospital, being directed by  Dr. Venerand.
We asked if we could see their Physical Therapy department. The Dows hope to find the best Physical Therapists to train in this church wheelchair program.

They were happy to show us around. These are patients that were using the hospital's equipment.

 These were the Prosthesis Technicians.  They were happy to show their products.

 During the week,  we had about a dozen appointments to meet with many charitable organizations who have done much to bless the lives of the people in Burundi. Elder Dow even presented his power point presentation at the Rotary International of Burundi organization.    Some not pictured were from the Ministry of Public Health, the Director General of the Ministry of Solidarity, the Energy Commisioner, CED Caritas, the Arch Bishop of the Catholic Diocese and the Medical Director of the University Hospital. That meant doing alot of waiting. Time in Africa seems to be insignificant. So we waited and luckily had good company to visit with.  We learned alot about the Dows. This photos was taken in Bumeric Hospital.

 The Coordinator of the Sub- Region of the Bureau of OPDE, APECOS
 and OIDEB was a warm ,charitable, and highly esteemed man named Athanase.  You will see him further on in the blog.  He took this picture at the dinner party he gave for us.  His beautiful  wife, Candide, is in the center front.  The meal was amazing and for dessert, the chef that you see on the right brought out the shishkabobs.
It was an outdoor dinner and we watched much lightning and thunder but it began raining right after we left.The company at the dinner table was interesting and fun! The lady in red, Denise, was also working in charitable causes. She is straight out of Ireland and proud of her Catholic background.. She has been in Burundi, blessing the people's lives for over 20 years.

 This is the office of the Ministry of Health in Burundi.  We met several times here.

 We also visited with the Cheif of Projects, Mr. Marc, at Handicap International,
 UNHCR, which is a UN Refugee Agency, sent us to CED-Caritas, to the Secretary General Abbe.  He is the man sitting right behind Sister Frogley.  We failed to get another face on photo of him, but we were so impressed with his compassion and love.  He took us to a School for the Handicapped called Saint Kizito. They found out we were coming.  They surprised us with a Drum Concert and all 270 students out in their quad area to greet us.  For me, tears flowed as I looked into their faces.
 Each of these handicapped children must interview and have certain abilities to attend this school.  There were 7 nuns running the school and they were amazing. The students receive their education here.
Secretary General Abbe , which works through the Catholic Church, kindly took us through the children's school classes and dormitory and other facilities at the school. It was very clean and efficient.  The children were obedient and content while we were there.

It was hard to believe what we were experiencing with our own eyes.
The audience and performers are all handicapped.  If you look closely you will see.
 They truly love and help one another. The Burundian Drums are traditional from many centuries ago.  The red, green and white costumes are traditional in Burundian colors.
This young man was a drummer and stepped into the limelight to dance.  This photo doesn't show it but he has only one leg.
There was much joy, applause and laughter.
 These children performed regardless of their conditions.  The drumming music is contagious and exciting.
 This boy's legs end just below the knees... but his dance was well done! The applause was terrific!!
Then all the children began to sing together, clapping to the music, as well.  It was a great honor to have the children perform for us.  It was a memory that will never be forgotten.
The next day we were invited to the the OPDE school. The coordinator, Athanase, was so hospitable and generous with his time and efforts.  He coordinates three large associations and they are of his own making as of the last 20 years.  They all service those in need.  This OPDE is a school for "street kids" who have no hope of going to school normally.  He takes them in and allows them to learn a trade.

 This is Computer class. They do have computers, about one computer for every three students in this course.
 This is Furniture making. They sell their furniture to help the school costs.
 This is the Ratan Furniture they learn to make.  More girls are in this class. They gather they materials from the forest.
 These young men are learning Auto Mechanics.
 Welding had about 25 young men in the class.
 In this class, they are taught plumbing skills.
 Food services are also taught in the restaurant they run.  It is open every day and assists in school finances.
 In 1996, the church asked Athanase to help distribute mattresses and bicycles.  This is the original container that they were sent to Bujumbura in.  Athanase still uses it today in many ways.
The school also has several large halls that they rent out for weddings and church meetings to offset costs.
It was celan and well organized.  We were so impressed.
All of the skills are taught and then the schools helps them get their first job!!! This school has been functioning well since 1996!

Athanase then took us across town to his Medical Center.  He uses it to take care of the students he has and it is also open to the public.  He took us through it. It was clean and well staffed.  In the infirmary, there was a little boy, who was 5 or 6 years old with his hands wrapped  in tongue depressors and gauze.  Athanase asked what had happened.  The little boy had tried to take 200 Burundian Francs (which equals 20 cents) from the family money.  The father wanted his son to learn a lesson and put the boys hands directly in the fire.  He wanted to teach his son to be honest.

This was a week to remember and to learn from..  All of the explorations to find a partner for this project were very fruitful.  At the end of this year, the Dows will return to Bujumbura with their team of trainers, who will meet with people from most of these organizations in Bujumbura which will bless the lives of hundreds who will receive wheelchairs that will fit their needs and give them a better quality of life.
"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor.....and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:3


  1. Thank you for sharing this great experience. I was especially impressed with the trade school classes - we found that welders are always needed no matter what country they are in and in many they make better money than college graduates.

  2. What an incredible week. How touching. I loved how happy the students were who were doing the drum performance for you and dancing despite their disabilities. Amazing. I am glad you are having such memorable and special experiences. Love you!