Hey, my name is Merveille NKURUNZIZA, I am burundian, its been 2 years and a half now since I left burundi because of political crisis , me and my family moved to Rwanda where I met Marguerite Barankitse the founder of Maison Shalom,she offered me a scholarship to come to study in France, I am a student in international trade in Lyon,doing my internship in Ahimsa FUND. Let’s continue with your presentation,
Can you tell me who are you,what you do in your daily life, where have you met Jean François ?
My name is Stefanie Weiland, I am the Executive Director of LifeNet International and our mission is to transfrom african health centers so they can provide quality and sustainable healthcare. Everthing we do focuses on improving the quality of services, the quality of management of a health facility so that it is sustainable financially and organizationally..We’re working primarily with faith-based health centers in 3 countries: Burundi, Congo and Uganda but we started in Burundi and Rema Hospital of Maison Shalom was one of the facilities in our network. Our vision is to agregate these facilities into a network where we add value and increase the sustainability of care,creating a platform so that these faclities are ready to implement and distribute even more life saving techinques with technologies. The vision is to be across Africa not only eastern but western and southern Africa…
I met Jean François in the SIHI Covention and we kept in touch to see how we can work together.
I’ve read that you empower small business and NGO Leaders, how do you work with NGOs?
Yes it’s interesting, in my whole career I’ve been working with business and NGO leaders in different aspects, and in LifeNet we find ourselves working with different business and NGO leaders. Like we did at Maison SHALOM Burundi, we develop management capacity, like how to run a healthcare facility or a health project. Some health facilities are businesses and some are private organisations. For either one, it’s very important to be financially sustainable, and what we do is to help them grow their surplus revenue.
LifeNet International is giving training in all areas of growth, and how health facilities can how they can improve.
Considering youth evolution, which recommendations can you give them?
I will say:
Work! There is a lot of need and a lot of demand in Africa, so it would be a great thing if Youth can think about working in healthcare. Women should think about becoming doctors not just nurses. Another area of opportuny is is in Pharmacy; there is a strong need of pharmacists especially in Burundi, but also all across East Africa. Another thing is I.T, information technology, I encourage them to be at the fore front, learn it and apply it. Youth should also find mentors. I encourage them to do trainings, seek where you can get hands-on training, because I think the weaknesses of the education system in East Africa is a lack of practical opportunities.
What do you think can boost your project and how do you expect participants of this forum can contribute in your work?
I would really love to make the kind of connections which can help us to accelerate what we are doing; in the academic sector I would love to connect on common areas of research, in the business sector I would like to connect on any business that can be brought outside as we get creative in distribution networks. I think there are a lot of business opportunities. I also want to meet funding organisations. It would be fantastic to mutually share what we have with all of these connections.
As you work with faith-based health centers, is it easy to train them and give them instructions while they are already instructioned before by their chief?
We face some barriers, but we find so many more opportunities than barriers. We are a Christian organisation, and also strongly value establishing trust before any activity. We are not going to push a partner to do things he didn’t do before. Then we focus on building their capacity, and training them on the many ways they can improve the quality of their healthcare services.
Can you share your world vision in 30 years, do you find yourself optimistic or pessimistic about?
I am optimistic, if wasn’t, I would not be in this business. In 30 years our network will have grown to 10 countries or more, and will be financially sustainable, growing, reaching communities, by that time we will have seen the involvement of churches in healing their communities. That is my vision– to help them discover how they can contribute to the spiritual, physical, and social healing of their communities. And together, we hope for healthier communities.
Thank you, it was a pleasure to meet you and great honot to talk to you, enjoy the rest of the the forum and have a safe trip back.