The Influence of Camp

Written by Emma CrowE, Donor Development Coordinator

The USA / Australian team of Sister Connection volunteers recently returned from camp in Burundi! In attendance were 812 widows, 284 children, 466 teens, and 710 young adults. That brings the total number of campers to over 2,272!  

You may wonder what exactly goes on during camp in Burundi, and I’ve got the answer. The annual camps and retreats are similar to vacation bible school in which the campers worship God, learn from His Word, and deepen their connections with each other and the staff. If you ever attended summer camp or vacation bible school, then you have an idea of the type of activities in which the campers participate.

While the team was in Burundi, I was sitting behind my desk and posting updates. It was through one of those updates that I connected with a former Sister Connection camper, Niyokwizera Blaise. Blaise saw a Facebook post about camp and wanted to share his experience from years ago.

Blaise attended the Sister Connection camp in Mweya as a young boy. He distinctly remembers being greeted by Bishop Eli Buconyori and American volunteers there to assist the Burundian staff. It was through all of them that Blaise learned about the importance of forgiveness. 

Blaise’s story was filled with heartache. His father was killed before Blaise had the opportunity to really know him. He says, “I was too young even to remember his face.” The grief of losing a father was one shared by all the children in attendance. 

Through testimonies and fervent studying of the bible, Blaise focused on forgiving those who killed his dad. Counseling is still an important part of every camp. 

Forgiveness wasn’t the only topic that Blaise learned about. He remembers being taught to respect and love his mom. Being a single mother is not easy under any circumstances, but widows also have to work through their grief while caring for their children. 

He learned so much from his time at camp that he couldn’t write it all, but he did add that it transformed his life. 

Blaise says, “Sister connection is one of the blessings of the Grace of God that I’ll praise the Lord for life.”