SheLoves Bubanza Project: Can Love Move this Mountain in Burundi?

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This Valentine’s Day, we showed what true Love can do. 

LATEST UPDATE: Dear friends, this month we raised $7,212 for our sisters and brothers in Bubanza, Burundi. We are so grateful that together we can help bring visibility to this community and over 600 people can now have their own ID cards. A mountain has been moved, indeed.

UPDATE:  WE DID IT!!! 425 women in Bubanza will now get their ID documents. If you still want to donate, any overflow will go to fund the ID cards for the men of Bubanza. #Together certainly moves mountains of injustice. Thank you so much!

-idelette xoxo

Last week we launched the SheLove Bubanza Valentine’s Day project. We are gathering our strength to give 425 women in Bubanza, Burundi, the dignity of an Identity Card. Until now, these women have been invisible. Even though they have their government didn’t count them as citizens. We have raised $4,190 already–only 76 more ID cards to go! We want to give every woman in this community this basic human right. Please join us!

Want to give an ID card as a Valentine’s Day gift? Download your own card (as pdf) here and print it at home. (It looks great on cardstock!)

WANT TO KNOW HOW THIS ALL BEGAN?

Here’s the original story:

____________________________

Doing our part for our sisters in Burundi on the journey from Invisible to Belonging.

By Idelette McVicker | Twitter: @idelette

I remember the moment well: Driving up Granville Street, three kids in the back of the minivan and Scott at the wheel. I read my friend Kelley Johnson Nikondeha’s latest blogpost about her and hubby Claude’s work in Burundi on my phone:

Another beginning.

They were starting another brandnew, God-sized (read: faith required) project in Bubanza, Burundi. A community with over a thousand adults.

I read in the hurried pace of the car, speeding forward through Vancouver traffic to catch a ferry on that Friday afternoon. Inwardly, I was willing a quiet moment … dodging as best I could the crescendo of kidlet voices in the car and steeling myself against the atmosphere of Rush.

I willed myself to be present to the words … to catch my Kelley’s heart. I wanted to be open my own heart to the big work she and Claude devote their lives to.

She drew me in with this picture of a little Burundian girl:

And then these words:

“This week, life for this little girl is going to start changing.”

Kelley and Claude (a native Burundian) have faithfully visited Bubanza since 2008. They started with a small community project with the Batwa people and saw it flourishing through hard work, heart work, commitment and tenacity.

“But Bubanza,” she wrote “is big and the terrain is tough. Hundreds of families, poor land, no water and no hope. Some have tried to help over the years–helping with some houses, but not enough. Offering occasional food, but only for a few days. No one stayed long. So the situation on the ground in Bubanza really did not change.”

“Hardship was the steady diet of these friends.”

Over the years, over dusty visits, telling stories and much dancing, the people of Bubanza have become Claude and Kelley’s friends. Each a person with a name and a story.

By this time in the story, we were at the corner close to an old favourite Starbucks. For some reason, I was aware of my own place on the earth and it seemed significant as I read her next sentence:

“We will start by advocating for human rights – identity cards, birth certificates and marriage licenses for hundreds of families.”

What? These people–these friends of my friends–don’t have identity cards? No birth certificates?

I’ll be honest: The tears welled up in me right then, just as they are now, in writing these words.

I sat there in the car with my robust family and my own story and these words stopped me in my tracks:

No. Identity. Cards.

Kelley explained: “As far as the world was concerned, they did not exist. With no official record of their existence they could claim no rights, no representation, no residence or real home. For all intents and purposes they were invisible … exiles in their own land living in the shadows of Burundian society.”

I understood a little of what this meant. I remembered the ache of not truly belonging.

While my place of nothing could never ever compare to theirs, that season of my life gave me a glimpse into the cold walls of powerlessness. I remembered how dependency keeps you small and how vulnerably naked it is without a piece of paper to mark your own spot on the earth.

I understood the world of difference between having the dignity of an identity card and not having that seemingly simple, yet profoundly important piece of paper.

The tears were streaming down my face and I had to catch gulps of air through the sobs. [This doesn't happen that often, so when it did, I paid attention.]

Lord, what can I do? I asked.

Lord, what do you need me to do?

Lord, what do you want us to do?

I emailed Kelley and started a conversation … a thread of a hope. What if one day we, the SheLoves Sisterhood, could come alongside these sisters in Bubanza?

It seemed distant and foggy.

But I set up camp by this thought and lifted my heart in prayer.

Then, over the next two months, life started to change for the people of Bubanza.

First, the arrival of trees.

Then, desks.

And, in early January, I read another one of Kelley’s blogposts:

“Come forward and be seen!”

The first 120 women in Bubanza were holding their identity cards in their hands. I could hardly believe it!

The team had decided to make the women’s identity cards a priority. These women were now–for the first time–recognized as residents of Bubanza and citizens of Burundi.

As I read that last post, it struck me how just fast the Spirit of God was moving to bring hope, dignity and strength to the people of Bubanza.

It swept through me too and I wanted to be a part of this God story.

I emailed Kelley that night, late into the night. I fought against the voice that said I was being impulsive, but I remembered the tears on that first day, so I hit “send” and enquired anyway:

- How many more women need identity cards? I asked.

- How much does it cost to get one identity card?

Maybe this would be too big for us, I doubted. I had no idea.

I asked anyway.

The next morning her response laid in the palm of my hands:

“There are 425 women in Bubanza awaiting identity cards at the cost of $12 each.”

Twelve dollars sounded so … doable. I quickly did the math on my phone:

1 x identity card @$12

x

425 women

____________

= $5,100

____________

Our SheLoves/LifeWomen Mama Helen Burns also caught the wind of the Spirit and said, Yes! Let’s do it!

So, this my dear SheLoves sisters, is our Valentine’s Day project for 2012–a way to show deep, meaningful and real Love to our sisters in Burundi.

– Not the hearts and chocolate kind, but the kind of Love that changes a woman’s life for good. The kind of Love that can’t help but change us as we give to others.

So, my dear friend, would you please help us in getting the word out and raise the funds to get identity cards for each and every woman in Bubanza? We’d love to do this by Valentine’s Day.

Would you join us, please, in giving towards an identity card for one woman? Five women? Ten women? A hundred women? All the women? The whole community?

As I sit with our project–and this basic human need of our friends in Bubanza–I can’t help but be reminded of this: He knows my name. He knows our names. And He knows every one of their names. And together we have an opportunity to participate in this beautiful story of Dignity and Justice.

________________________________________

About Idelette:
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women.

I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth.

My word for the year is “Roar,” but I have learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice.

I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago.

I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet@idelette.

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Idelette McVicker
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women. I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth. My word last year was “roar” and I learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice. This year, my own word is “soar.” I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet @idelette.
Idelette McVicker

Latest posts by Idelette McVicker (see all)

Idelette McVicker
  • http://www.emergingmummy.com Sarah@EmergingMummy

    Brilliant, Idelette.

    • http://www.shelovesmagazine.com idelette

      Sarah, I am so thankful that we *get* to be a part of this move of God. I love how the Spirit is sweeping through this once forgotten community, bringing Hope and Strength. I am just giddy that we get to stand with our faithful friends as they have been working for years and now we can share in this beautiful story. Mercy + Living Hope + Bubanza and Downtown Eastside, etc. etc. etc. Dignity. Freedom. Justice. Mercy. Love. It’s what it’s all about in the end, right?

  • http://twitter.com/#!/teenbug Tina/ @teenbug

    Kelley explained: “As far as the world was concerned, they did not exist. With no official record of their existence they could claim no rights, no representation, no residence or real home. For all intents and purposes they were invisible … exiles in their own land living in the shadows of Burundian society.”

    I remember the tangible ache in my heart when I read this. I love that we can do our part in seeing/acknowledging/shining light on/drawing back the curtains on these beautiful women who deserve to be seen/cherished/heard/celebrated.

    The picture of the little girl whose life is changing?
    Is also, you + me. It’s all of us.

    I don’t say this flippantly, Kelley and Claude are my heroes. Truly.
    As are you. As is Pastor Helen.
    Beautiful beings in my world. #feelingblessedandbuzzy

    Thank you for raising the stakes.

    Well, hello Tuesday! Haha.

    xoxo,
    Teen

    • http://www.shelovesmagazine.com idelette

      I am so so thankful you’re back. My world isn’t quite right when you’re not here.

      I love your insight into the little girl whose life is changing. Beautiful! Yes … Although, personally, I feel like I am a Mama Bear who is getting the kidlets up and awake for the day. #comeongirlslet’sgetitdone

      And Kelley and Claude and our Mama Helen = heroes, indeed. You call it, girl.

      Hello, Tuesday! Yayyyy!!!!
      #squeezehug
      xoxo

  • Kelley Johnson Nikondeha

    It is amazing that we get to write this story together, and more so that we get to right this wrong together! Our friendships will allow women in Burundi to finally have identity cards – to be able to move freely, engage in the healthcare system and legal system and political system. They will have their name, their address on a card that proves they exist and declares that they belong and matter. It is humbling to be part of their story… how God is bringing them into the light to be seen! Love that we are all doing this together!!!!

    • http://www.shelovesmagazine.com idelette

      My friend, thank you for your faithful work, spending your life to do this. Thank you for telling the Story! Those blogposts are more beautiful than Kimberley diamonds. I am so in awe of God in you and Claude and the team in Bubanza. I remember reading about the first 125 ID cards and selfishly thinking, No, stop the bus–we need to be a part of this story. God is moving so fast. I love it. I am beyond thankful that we get to tell this story together. What a privilege. #sosoblessed

  • http://fionalynne.com/blog/ fiona lynne

    I love this!!! This is the real heart of Valentine’s day :)
    Will definitely help spread the word…

    • http://www.shelovesmagazine.com idelette

      Thank you so much, Fiona! #betterthanaboxofchocolates, any day, right?! Love your heart. xoxo

  • http://chaoticorder100.wordpress.com Kristen

    YES YES YES! Shared this on Facebook, asking my friends to please donate to this instead of giving me anything kitschy. And I’ll be donating on their behalf too!

    I was wondering if there is any way we could get cards made for this, to give to people to explain what this is about? =D

    • http://www.shelovesmagazine.com idelette

      Kristen, I love how you caught the vision and now you’re sprinting with it! Sure! Let’s do cards and there can be a PDF download. I’ll ask! Thank you for helping spread the word. Yay-yay-yay! xo

      • http://chaoticorder100.wordpress.com Kristen

        Yay!!! I am excited for cards!

        • http://www.shelovesmagazine.com idelette

          Hi Kristen

          I’ve added a pdf for the cards. Yayyy! Angela did such a beautiful job of creating it.

          xo

  • http://xo-mybeloved-xo.blogspot.com/ Chervelle

    Broken! I’m so in for this!

    • http://www.shelovesmagazine.com idelette

      O, Chervelle! Love you. xoxo

  • Sherry Naron

    This makes my heart happy that our sweet Batwa friends are being shared with the world! Such an amazing story!

    • Kelley Johnson

      Invisible no more!

      • http://www.shelovesmagazine.com idelette

        YES! That just made me bellylaugh in the car. How great is God. I love that.

      • Sherry Naron

        Our community group is buying identity valentines for each other!! :)

        • Kelley Johnson Nikondeha

          I LOVE that!!!! As Idelette says, #betterthanaboxofchocoaltes

        • http://fionalynne.com/blog/ fiona lynne

          Ooh, I LOVE that idea…

        • http://www.shelovesmagazine.com idelette

          I love it-I love it-I LOVE it! Wonderful! Thank you, Sherry! #dancinghere xo

  • Andrea Bolliger

    Love-Love-Love it… thats amazing and absolute the best Valentine gift
    Was so touched when I heard about it…

  • http://uwdecals.com Danielle Hardy

    Beautiful!! Count me in.. Let’s do this!! and then the next village and then the next!! Love how doable this is.. $12???!!! come ON!!!!

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  • Sherry Naron

    Any update on a pdf printable card? I’ve purchased one already but would love to have the card to send to my friends! Our single women’s community group is purchasing them for each other for valentines day! :)

    • http://www.shelovesmagazine.com idelette

      Hi Sherry! Yes! They should be done by tomorrow and I’ll upload them as soon as I get the file. Thank you so much!

      • Sherry Naron

        Yes! This makes me so happy :)

    • http://www.shelovesmagazine.com idelette

      Just reading your comment again and I’m struck by what a powerful, beautiful statement your group is making. What a glorious Valentine to give each other. Wow. This says so much about your group. Any chance you could take a picture of your next gathering where you are giving this to each other, please? I would love to share it with others. So inspiring!

      • Sherry Naron

        I will! And we’ll be meeting next Tuesday, the 14th – ON VALENTINES DAY!!! {smile}

        I know, I really can’t even verbalize it well; single women celebrating valentines day by giving another woman their identity on this day of Love. That’s Jesus’ kind of LOVE to be spread! Happy Valentines Day to my sweet Batwa women! This summer can’t come fast enough until I see them again! Such a great idea Idelette!! Thank you for facilitating it.

        • Sherry Naron

          i pinned it on pinterest! lets see if it gets any traction!

        • http://www.shelovesmagazine.com idelette

          Hi Sherry! I just uploaded the card as a pdf. Yay!

          I think they are so adorable, thanks to the talented Angela Doell.

        • http://www.shelovesmagazine.com idelette

          Pinterest–what a great idea! I’ll be pinning it for sure! Thank you so much … !

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  • Sharon

    My family are all getting a card to represent 5 women’s identity and a chocolate to remind them how being noticed, being valued and being chosen is sweet!
    I completely love your heart Idelette, thank you for making it easy to walk with you and share the vision.
    S

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  • Sarah

    Hello! I recently returned from an internship with African Road to this area and am trying to fundraise for Bubanza identity cards. Kelly Bean from African Road shared this article with me. I would love to talk with you more. Please send me an email!

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