Bangor Worldwide Missionary Convention

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Many days the cup of porridge that YADA gave us was the only food I gotNews

On Christmas Day 2014, 55 children were gathered from the poorest slum in Bujumbura and given a Christmas lunch that they would never forget. What they couldn’t finish they stuffed in their pockets because they never know where or when the next meal is coming from. YADA had begun.

Porridge break at YADA tuition
Porridge break at YADA tuition

It was in a seminar up in the countryside that I got the vision for YADA. The speaker was describing to the group that to know God is much more than a head knowledge it is a deep intense heart connection. YADA (Hebrew) is to know God and to be known by Him on a very intimate level. 

I was reminded of a community close to where I grew up in Buterere, the north side of Bujumbura. A community called Nyarumanga which is made up of all three tribes, Tutsi, Hutu & Batwa (the majority being Batwa). It started in 2000 as an Internal Displaced People Camp. In the middle of this community sits the entire city’s rubbish. Children as young as one can be found picking through the garbage looking for something to eat or sell. I knew this was where God was calling me to start YADA.

After the Christmas event, local leaders from the community were approached and asked what the main needs of the community were. Education was number one, most of the children didn’t attend school and those that did were failing miserably. We began enrolling children in the local government schools and set up tuition programs twice a day to help kids catch up and do their homework. None of their parents could read or write. 

It wasn’t long before we realised that the children needed to be given something to sustain them and keep them awake. They have to walk 15 minutes to reach our offices and that’s after walking to and from school all on an empty stomach. The cup of porridge they receive from us may be the only food they get the whole day.

Seven years on, we are respected more than any other local organisation working in Nyarumanga. Thanks to our child sponsorship program, we have 45 children enrolled at school and attending tuition and 9 children in our pre–school program. All of them receive a cup of porridge daily and we pay for their health care costs which is saving lives. All school equipment and uniforms are provided by YADA. 

Children are passing exams and moving through school without repeating years. For the first time ever, a young boy is attending a good secondary school, something no one from this community has ever achieved. The reason YADA is so successful is because we are working holistically, we spend time in their homes with their families educating them in the importance of their child getting an education and staying off the dump. We visit the schools and get to know their teacher and encourage them to believe in these students and then we see them at tuition and give educational help but also pastoral care. Some of these kids are witnessing and experiencing horrendous violence and abuse. 

YADA wants to invest in the whole family. We have discipleship groups with women and men, family teaching and training. Kids clubs, football tournaments and there is so much more to do. We recently had success in a grant application which meant we could buy a Tuk Tuk and a small restaurant. This will help to support some salaries but also provide a platform for training young people. 

The reality is many kids won’t make it to the end of secondary school, so we need to help train them in a skill. YADA currently employs three girls that did not have the capacity to finish school. Two are working in the restaurant and another *Deborah* is working in YADAs pre–school. Here is a little of her story:

“I am the firstborn of five children in my family. Both my parents are still alive, but my mum left recently to try and find a better life. I was in primary Y6 when YADA first came to our community. My parents had decided I could not continue to stay at school because I needed to be at home and look after my younger siblings so my parents could work. YADA talked with my parents about the importance of education, and they agreed to continue sending me and also support my siblings. The teacher at YADA really helped me to understand the lessons we do at school. It can be hard to learn because there are so many children. Many days the cup of porridge that YADA gave us was the only food I got. Because my mum has gone, I now have to help raise my siblings. This means I cannot continue school and I was also struggling to pass exams as I find academic studies very hard. Iit is also embarrassing for me to still be at school when I’m 21. I am proud of myself for getting to secondary school. No–one in my whole extended family has ever gone to secondary school before. I asked YADA if I could have a job and they agreed that I could work in the pre–school in the mornings, then I can be at home and take care of my family in the afternoon. I am so thankful to God for YADA and the person who has sponsored me all through my schooling, I can’t imagine what my life would have been without them.“


If you would like to hear more about what God is doing in YADA, then we would love to hear from you and invite you to join us on the journey to see communities transformed by knowing fully and being fully known by our majestic and mighty God.  

 

Email: nicolacheevers@hotmail.com
Web: https://onecollectiveuk.org/community/burundi-bujumbura

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