2007 - Dennis and Delson
Dennis Wiebe took his first trip to Burundi in 2007 intending to create an orphanage. He soon realized the massive corruption in Burundi and came home disillusioned and mentally exhausted. The only highlight of the trip was ‘accidentally’ meeting a man named Delson Nyimpaye.
Delson was born in Tanzania, grew up in Burundi, and went to Bible school in South Africa. He lived in Rwanda, Congo DRC, and Zambia, constantly moving due to war. After Bible School, Pastor Delson moved back to Zambia. He had a great job offer to pastor a church in Zambia, a great opportunity, but he felt God telling him to go look after God's people in Burundi. Pastor Delson didn't have a network, a job, or contacts in Burundi, but he went anyway. He didn't want to go, but he did. A day later Delson met Dennis. They conversed back and forth over the next 2 years and in February 2009 they agreed to work together.
2009 - VOH Bwiza
In October 2009, VOH Burundi is officially formed under the auspices of VOH Africa. Delson is named the Village Director. A location for the centre is rented in Bwiza, Bujumbura. The first children are sponsored in January 2010. In 2011, a head tutor is hired to teach the children and later that year an administrator to run the centre. A feeding program is implemented before school and the children come back to the centre after school for tutoring. The children are now able to attend public school as VOH pays for everything required to go to school (tuition fees, uniforms, books, supplies, school bags, and clothing).
While the preference is to keep the children living in the community, a girl’s home and a boy’s home were rented next to the centre for sponsored children that have no other place to live. A house mother looks after the children in a family environment.
VOH Bwiza currently cares for 285 children and employs 25 Burundians.
2018 - VOH Maramvya
In February 2018 a second VOH Burundi centre opened 20 km northwest of Bujumbura in Maramavya. The community in Maramvya is impoverished and made up of many single mothers with many children. Most children in the area do not have an opportunity to go to school. To really make a difference in the lives of these children a school would be needed. We needed to get to work fundraising. Public schools in the area have class loads of 150 students per 1 teacher with many children sitting on the floor. VOH’s commitment to education would be a game-changer for these kids.
VOH Maramvya currently cares for 170 children and employs 20 Burundians.
2019 - The School in Maramvya
In 2019 the first classroom block was constructed. Through the generous donors of Cross Church and their friends and family, we were able to raise enough money to build a second classroom block in 2020 and a third in 2021. Each classroom block hosts 3 classrooms. The first block hosts Pre-school 1, 2, and 3. The second block is Grades 1, 2, and 3. The third block currently hosts Grade 4, a library, and the Head Teachers office. The school is beautiful, surrounded by gardens that feed the children.
The current plan for the site is to go all the way to Grade 12 plus a technical school and a clinic. Each fall a new class of 40 children are accepted for school. VOH Maramvya regularly receives 400 applicants for 40 spots. It is a difficult decision that the VOH Maramvya Staff weigh very carefully. This also means, each year, we have 40 new children requiring sponsors.
2016 - Cross Church Burundi
In July of 2016, Pastor Alan held a Pastor’s Conference in Bujumbura. His teaching was on the Cross Church Discipleship Strategy called the 7Habits. The pastors soaked up the material like sponges. It was awesome to see these men and women of God thirst for more and more of God. At the end of the conference, the pastors voted unanimously to now be called Cross Churches and Cross Church Burundi was born. There are currently 50 Cross Churches in Burundi led by Bishop Patrice Manengeri and our own Pastor Delson.
The local church is the hope of the world, and it is our honour to support these churches with biblical teaching and special projects. We have built walls, roofs, repaired damages from storms and supported operations. It is our pleasure to serve these churches.
2021 - The Maramvya Church
Once VOH Maramvya became fully established it became apparent that a church would be needed in the area. VOH’s strategy is to always have a church close to their centres to encourage the children to attend a local church with their families. Through significant fundraising, we were able to purchase the land right next to the VOH Maramvya Centre. In 2020 construction began, and in 2021 this beautiful church was opened. The Maramvya Church already has a large congregation with many new converts. It is wonderful to see how God can really change a community for the better.
Annual Burundi Fundraiser
Almost all our work in Burundi comes at a significant cost. Building classrooms and churches, supporting operations, sponsoring children is a large endeavour. We are so grateful for all the people that have come alongside us to support this work.
Every February we host our annual Burundi Fundraiser. It is the one time of the year we ask everyone in our Cross Church family to give a donation to the work in Burundi and then we ask everyone to invite their family, friends, and acquaintances to join us and support this work. Every year we sit in amazement of what God can do through His people. You can join us, follow this link.
VOH Burundi Sponsorship
Almost 400 of the 450 children at VOH Burundi are sponsored by the people of Cross Church or their family, friends, and acquaintances. We feel personally responsible for these kids, lifting them out of poverty and virtually changing the trajectory of their lives. Sponsorship provides 2 nutritious meals a day, healthcare, all educational requirements (tuition fees, uniforms, books, supplies, school bags, and clothing) and safe, stable housing (either in the community or on-site). The children also receive Christian discipleship training to help them understand that Jesus loves them and cares for them.
You can feel the joy of sponsorship too. Check out all the VOH Burundi kids waiting for sponsors here.