Jean Marie Bizimana, of Burundi, Africa, welcomed the opportunity to have visitors explore his homeland through personal encounters and, under his leadership, Friendship Force Burundi was officially chartered in 2005.
In March, 2006, 25 Edmonton and Area members of Friendship Force enjoyed the first inbound exchange to Burundi. In 2008, 22 American members brought materials and set up the first English Library in Bujumbura. During their stay, they offered a ten day English training for students, civil servants and businessmen.
Jean Marie was passionate about vulnerable children and envisioned a school without social, economic, tribal or cultural barriers. He believed that an English education would enable Burundians to participate in the global community and build a bright future for themselves and their families.
Jean Marie appealed to FFI clubs worldwide. He contacted Edmonton’s President, Diana McIntyre, and asked for her help to find teachers willing to set up an English school in Burundi. Diana, in turn, established the Tanbur African Aid Society, or TAAS, to support this initiative.
In the fall of 2008, three Canadians arrived armed with the Alberta Curriculum. They cleaned and reorganized a rented seminary to house the school and they mentored the newly hired teachers in lesson preparation, delivery, and assessment. A container from Edmonton brought much needed furniture and equipment, textbooks, teacher and student supplies, and library books. In September, 2008, the Bujumbura Friendship Force English School opened with 13 students in Kindergarten and Grade 1.