Original Research

Equipping the poorest of the poor to become agents of community transformation: A case study of milk as a catalyst in Burundi

Timothy A. van Aarde
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 51, No 1 | a2250 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v51i1.2250 | © 2017 Timothy A. van Aarde | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 March 2017 | Published: 31 August 2017

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Timothy A. van Aarde, Department of Humanities, North West University, South Africa

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Community transformation has cultural, political and religious dimensions. In the case of Burundi, it is ranked 188/188 on the scale of the world’s poorest countries. The poor in Burundi have a fatalistic attitude towards poverty as a result of the unstable political climate, corruption and a climate of suspicion. The poor are cynical and have no hopeful future expectations. The resourcefulness of the poor having been muted. The Christian church of Burundi has developed a culture of dependency. The role of the church in the West has been limited to lifting the poor out of abject poverty. A creative use of available resources and the participation of the poor through the recognition of their own resourcefulness and stewardship is a sustainable approach to the alleviation of poverty. Newfrontiers churches have developed the approach of equipping the poor as a mission’s strategy to participate in the missio Dei. The majority of churches and non-governmental organisations who endeavour to alleviate poverty in Burundi have, what can be termed, a ‘dependency virus’ or ‘dependency crisis’ and are victims caught in the ‘dependency trap’, that is, they create a culture of dependency through their provision. The loss of dignity that follows, transform the community into a slave of the beneficiary system in which poverty is conceived as a lack of things rather than a mind-set born from help given by the beneficiary without the consent of the poor.


Poor; community transformation; milk; Burundi; Newfrontiers; stewardship; missio Dei; empowering of the poor; Maslow; missional exegesis


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