With the grant from the Boston-based McGovern Foundation, four of those libraries will be retrofitted with electricity, plumbing and Internet access to create “IT Think Tanks,” where instructors can use computers to support lessons in science, technology, engineering and math. “Building IT Think Tanks paves the way for solutions to Burundi’s toughest challenges,” said Julie Marner, Burundi Friends’ executive director. “The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation understands that education leads to economic empowerment and self-sustaining communities. I am confident the Foundation’s investment will pay great dividends for Burundi.”
Bordered by Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania, Burundi was colonized by Germany and Belgium before gaining independence in 1962. Civil wars and ethnic cleansing during the 1970s and 1990s have challenged development in the country, one of the world’s poorest, where chronic malnutrition is rampant. Political strife returned to Burundi in 2015.
“The work of Burundi Friends International is made-to-order for a partnership with the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation,” said Liz McGovern, the Foundation’s president. “Their commitment to improving lives and embracing technology aligns squarely with our culture and values.” Burundi Friends International expects to launch “Project 2020: Education, IT Think Tanks and STEM” this fall. In addition to technology, support from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation will allow Burundi Friends to open more English Clubs across the country, to train volunteer instructors and pay for basic equipment and supplies, such as cell phones and chalk.