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Miracle in Dadagali’s Village

BURUNDI
By Mark J.H. Klassen



For generations, there has been conflict between three ethnic groups in Burundi. In general, the two major groups have been at odds with each other, while they have both despised the third. Toward the third group—the Batwa—there has been outright hostility and marginalization. They do not sit with them. They do not eat with them. In fact, they do everything they can to avoid them. It has become the culture. It is accepted. 

That’s why the idea of the Karubabi Harvest School was so radical. It was a school started by a ministry called Harvest Initiatives made up of Burundians who came from the two dominant people groups but who wanted to provide education for the poorest of the poor, the Batwa. 

Harvest is a ministry that is inspired by the Gospel and the call of Jesus to love one another in ways that break down walls and bring reconciliation, peace and hope in the midst of conflict, violence and despair. They are committed to serving people like Dadagali. 

Dadagali is a ten-year-old student at Karubabi, and he is Batwa. His family is from a remote village, a two-hour journey by foot from the school. He walks every day to the school where he joins his classmates who are made up of not only other Batwa but also students from the other two groups. Although their nation’s history is marred by tragic stories of division, contempt and discrimination, Dadagali’s classroom is different. 

Although their nation’s history is marred by tragic stories of division, contempt and discrimination, Dadagali’s classroom is different.



Since the school began in 2015, Karubabi has steadily grown in its reputation for quality education and equal opportunity based on Biblical values. Although it began with mostly Batwa students, very quickly, the other people groups in the region began to send their children as well, making the school a unique haven of equality and unity.

Recently, however, Dadagali started missing classes. Although he loved school, he was forced to consider dropping out, due to a crisis at home. 

Dadagali’s mother was not well. For the past several years, she had suffered from paralysis. It was difficult for the family to provide the necessary support for one another, so Dadagali and his siblings, two of which were attending Karubabi with him, had to help out more and more at home. 

“We visited their village and prayed for Dadagali’s mother,” said Deanna Hiebert, Multiply worker in Burundi and a part of the team that works in partnership with Harvest to support Karubabi Harvest School. “It was heart-breaking to see how painful it was for the children to see their mother in that state of need. When I asked Dadagali about her, he couldn’t hold back his emotion, and started crying. It’s very rare for Burundians to show emotion like that.” 

However, God had mercy on the family and answered their prayers. “One day, we heard that Dadagali’s mother was miraculously healed of her paralysis,” said Deanna. “We were so excited that we hiked up the hill to their village with some of the staff from the school and celebrated with family and neighbors.”

Dadagali and his siblings were back at school with their classmates and continued strong in their studies. Unfortunately, only several weeks later, tragedy struck their family and their mother died during childbirth, an occurrence that was not uncommon in the village, and left the whole school in shock.

“What happened next was another miracle,” said Deanna. “Normally, when a Batwa woman in a remote village passed away, very few people notice, especially non-Batwa. But this time was different.”

When Dadagali’s classmates heard about his mother’s death, they responded with compassion and support. In an amazing show of solidarity, his classmates began gathering gifts at the school to be taken to Dadagali’s village home. The children’s pastor at the school organized the gifts of food, money, and supplies for the family.

“It was amazing,” said Deanna, who was there at the school to watch it happen. “It started with a few cobs of dried corn. Then came a few kilos of beans and some dried manioc. Some blankets were added to the pile and then some coins. Soon the pile was so big that baskets were brought. The baskets were filled and more had to be added. Hundreds of students brought small gifts to show Dadagali and his family that they loved him and that they were mourning with him.”

In the end, it took over sixty staff and students to carry the baskets to the village. They each carried their load and made the two-hour journey on foot up the hill. 

“It’s hard to describe how beautiful that long, serpentine chain of people looked as they made the difficult journey up the steep hillside and over rivers,” said Deanna. “For some of those students, it was their first time hiking into those hills, their first time to see how their Batwa friends lived, and the first time they would have shared a drink of water in a Batwa home.”

For Deanna and her husband, Doug, the message was clear and full of hope: “God is using this school to transform a community,” they said, “to bring unity among ethnic groups. It’s happening in the lives of the staff and students. God’s kingdom is coming, and it won’t stop in Dadagali’s village. These young missional leaders have the potential to transform their nation and their world for Jesus.” 

PRAY & GIVE

Please pray for Dadagali and his family, for comfort and provision as they mourn their loss. Pray also for the Karubabi Harvest School and their vision to transform a nation for Jesus through an extraordinary educational experience and raising a generation of Jesus followers. If you would like to make a donation toward the school through Multiply’s partnership with Harvest Initiatives, go to Burundi Harvest

 

Burundi Team, Witness Article, Witness Spring 2020

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