When Libere Dusabe came to Covenant Christian Reformed Church, in Cutlerville, Michigan, he wanted to find a way to provide for fellow citizens of Burundi, Africa who suffered after the civil war. Now he has—with fish.
The Burundian refugee developed Impact Burundi, a nonprofit organization that uses fish farms to bring work, food, and business to his home country.
“I wanted to do more by investing in other peoples’ lives,” Dusabe said. “I wanted to encourage reconciliation between my countrymen.”
After losing his parents and siblings in the war, Dusabe fled Burundi in 2000. He lived in Zambia for four years before he and his wife, Donate, moved to Michigan and began attending Covenant CRC.
“Our family took Libere and his family under our wing to help them adjust,” said Curt Walters, the church’s pastor. “Our three girls have become like big sisters to their three little girls.”
Dusabe soon began putting his entrepreneurial skills to work. He connected with a partner living in his home country and developed “Impact Burundi.”
The organization launched as a road repair project in the country’s rural areas, but a few years later Libere and his partner switched focus to fish farming.
“A lot of the soil in Burundi became infertile due to natural disasters,” Dusabi explained, “but the land was great for fish ponds.”
Dusabi and his partner recruited 118 volunteers and 12 employees to help raise the fish in the farm’s 12 ponds. In exchange for their work, the volunteers become “members” of the farm and receive part of the harvest.
Dusabi says many of the volunteers are developing skills to become independent. “We will train them to raise their own family fish farms,” Dusabi said. “Some have already started digging their ponds.”