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Butoke update, February 2010

Dear Pillars of Butoke, Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet all of you with the joy of a convalescent who knows to have been very close to death. I came back from a very difficult trip to Tshikapa on 10 february, after one week hobbing on the roads and a helicopter trip. Butoke has a humongous nutrition rehabilitation project there, sponsored by UNICEF (25 nutrition centers and 5 hospitals). The next day, I developed high fever of 40C or 104F, a florid diarrhea, loss of consciousness and convulsions. We identified E. coli as cause and after three days, I started recovering. Now one week after it started, I started reflecting on the menace my illness has been to Butoke and how to secure  Butoke’s future.

We all have worried about my succession and tried to prepare Dr Jean Lumbala and some others. That is fine, and as should be, but the last few weeks clearly showed other issues, notably our current dependence on UNICEF and FAO sponsored projects, that tend not only to be very short term (3 months to 8 months), ill timed (nothing first 6 mos of the year) but of politically palatable design.

I give the example of the UNICEF sponsored project on nutrition, but other projects are in the same vein. The problems with the project are partly due to lack of independence in deciding design or execution details and partly to the fact that too many cooks spoil the broth. The design seems to assume a community emergency and only the most severe cases are to be taken, while we are in a chronic prefamine and we condemn ourselves to a Sisyphus task and  condemn the moderate cases to have a full chance to become severe. Moreover all treatment is ambulant with widely spaced centers and mothers may have to walk 30 to a 100 km every week. So coverage is low. Worse even treatment of more than a thousand kids is now interrupted to evaluate the project and maybe recontinue it in one or two months. You know me well, the design problems are hard to stomach especially when enforced as “biblical” laws, as they were accepted or dictated by the Congolese bureaucrats.

When they get combined with the kind of execution problems we experience it is sickening. They range from very late supply of food by UNICEF(none from 1 June to 1 November 2009) to incomplete supplies (only peanut butter, no milk or drugs), to government nurses  arbitrarily choosing who to admit or release, to more recently some UNICEF official trying to impose a lifeboat rule that older children and severely malnourished adults should be excluded as they eat too much! Still we struggle hard to make it work as the lives of about 1000 children depend on it. Hopefully we get an extension of time, 8 mos of which 5 mos waiting are up and we can save more kids if we have more time, but we can definitely not run an NGO on such projects. It spoils community relations, creates suspicions and costs more because of lost time than it contributes and it is sheer torture for mothers and workers.

Our CIDA support compares very favorably as the design is in our hands and that of our NGO partners, the implementation similarly but it is doubtful whether we can benefit from it after 2012 and it remains limited in geographic approach, because of budget ceilings.

The individual support which many of you and myself supplied has both paid for our nutrition centers in Tshikaji and Luiza and for our orphans in and outside the centers. My generous pension covers about 60 % of these expenses. But were I to die my pension stops  and unless we have another way of supporting these activities they stop also. We want to avoid such a catastrophe. There are at this point 45 orphans with us, without any hope of other support.

We want to ask you whether you can urgently form an NGO Butoke under 501 3c? that would create access to foundation funding, which is likely to be longer term and based on our own design of programs that make local sense and are within our own witness and charisma and permit us to work on long term change of mentality and local solidarity.

We doubt that foundations will also cover survival and schooling support of our orphans. Can we get going on spreading a system of sponsorships as Paul and Agnes have which would be linked to specific children or groups of children ? We could for example supply pictures of each of the kids so far not sponsored. Letters or notes about the kids are feasible but letters from them will only be possible for those 10 y and older. Individual sponsorships are fine if all kids are covered but what do we do if only one part is covered? Any other precautions or suggestions?

This, in my mind, is even more of an urgent issue to resolve. When I fell ill I could not get to internet, therefore could not access pension funds and we were unable to pay the schools and lacked food supplies for everyone… shameful and anxious moments which I want to avoid in the future.

I am sure together we can solve these problems. Please let me know what you think

In His love



How to help (updated to year end 2010)


Friends of Butoke, Inc. is now incorporated and application has been made for 501-c-3 status in the USA.  Until it is granted, contributions in the USA can be made payable to Maryland Presbyterian Church, 1105 Providence Rd., Baltimore, MD, 21286, USA, marked “for Butoke.”  These contributions may be tax deductible in the USA. 

For those not interested in a USA tax deduction, contributions can be made payable to H. Branch Warfield, 13801 York Rd., V-3, Cockeysville, MD. 21030, marked “for Butoke.”


Contributions to Butoke in Canada can be sent through World Hope Canada, Box 21082, RPO Ottawa South, Ottawa, ON K1S 5N1


Contributions in the United Kingdom can be sent through Paul Evans, 5 Westville Ave., Illkley, LS29 9AH, United Kingdom.