Friday, November 16, 2012

Yes You Can -- The Busoma Project

Malnutrition is a serious problem in the nation of Burundi. For this country that has seen tremendous devastation through years of civil conflict, food shortages are often a problem.

In 1990, with a desire to provide good nutrition to the people of Burundi, Frank Ogden, a missionary doctor at Kibuye Hospital, created a porridge that continues to give life to thousands of Burundians. The cereal's name, Busoma. is an acronym for BUrundi Soy, sOrghum, and MAize. Busoma is loaded with nutrients especially needed by children after weaning. Yet Busoma is used by children and adults alike to prevent starvation and malnutrition. (taken from Free Methodist World Missions Hotline)

One of my goals in going to Burundi this past July was to visit the factory where the Busoma is made. Frank Ogden (now retired) and his wife Carol are friends of ours and I was interested to see the Busoma being made and the feeding program and nutrition class that is held at Kibuye. As it turned out, our team spent several days at Kibuye, staying in the guest house, attending the local church, and visiting the hospital and the Busoma plant.

Each month six tons of Busoma are produced there, with most of it being distributed to Free Methodist churches around the country. The soy, sorghum and maize are purchased from growers inside Burundi, cleaned  and dried in the sun, then each grain is roasted separately. It is then mixed with a paddle in a re-purposed Maytag washer that has had the spinner removed, and finally it is milled. Next it is bagged into half-kilo packages, enough for eight servings. This happens every day, Monday through Friday.

But making and distributing the Busoma is not enough to overcome malnutrition. The hospital has instituted a nutrition and feeding clinic as well. When children are brought to the hospital for their check-ups, they are weighed. If their weight falls below the appropriate level for their age, they are enrolled in the feeding program, a weeks long class that meets either on Monday or Friday. The mother and children come on the given day for their check-up and, while the cooked Busoma cools down enough to eat, a nurse gives a teaching on nutrition. Lunch is then served and each person who has been fed is given a half-kilo bag of Busoma to take home, good for eight more meals.

The scale at the Busoma plant serves two purposes. It is used to weigh Busoma grains and it is also used as a public scale, making a small side income for the project.

There are many people involved in the production of Busoma. As the superintendent of the mission station, Fidele Niyongabo also oversees the Busoma project. (His wife Helene is the assistat administrator of Kibuye Hospital.) There are also many locals employed by the project, including those in the factory and the nurses that operate the feeding program. To each of them, to those with the vision  required to begin and maintain this project, and to those who help fund it through ICCM, let me say, "Thank you." And to those who want to do something that will help other people and find it to be more than you can do alone I say, "Yes you can! With the help of God and the people He provides, yes, you can!"

Click here if you would like more information about the Busoma project or any other outreach of International Child Care Ministries through the Free Methodist Church.

Below is a photo tour of the BUSOMA project. The Ogdens graciously shared their stories and these pictures with us when we visited them at their home recently.

Dr Frank Ogden chatting with a friend

Kibuye Hospital's sign read, in Kirundi, reads"We work with the God
who heals and who gives life." This sign, for the Busoma factory, says
"Good food for the entire family."

Unloading the grains from a recent delivery

Sorting and cleaning the grains 

Notice the wood beyond the men. It will be used to roast the grain.

Carrying the grain to the drying area

Laying out the grain to dry in the sun

Each grain is dried separately

The grains are also roasted separately

Pouring the grains into the re-purposed Maytag washer

Hand mixing the grains

The mixed grains go into the mill

Bagging up the milled grains

Measuring out .5 kilo bags of Busoma

Mixing the Busoma with water before it cooks 

Waiting for the cereal to cook (boil for 8 minutes)

Preparing to dish up the Busoma

These mothers and children have had their nutrition teaching
and are now ready a nice cup of Busoma

Time to eat!

Weighing a neighbor's grain

Dr Frank and Rev Carol Ogden with church leaders

Fidele and Helene Niyongabo


Donna T said...

I think the Busoma Project is such a powerful ministry. Frank Ogden's vision and design of this nutritionally complete food product is so amazing--just like him! Our family is choosing items from the SEED catalog this year as part of our Christmas gift giving and the Busoma Project is one of our "picks"!

Ginger Kauffman said...

You're right, Donna! And what wonderful gifts you're giving as you use the SEED catalog as your giving guide! Merry Christmas!