I want to tell you a story about a man I met who is going to change the world, but first a little backstory…
Welcome to Burundi in East Africa.
It’s not an easy place to traverse. I find the ride from the highway to Gahararo on the dirt road to be physically and emotionally demanding.
Physically simply because the trip from the capital city of Bujumbura to our adopted village of Gahararo takes about 4½ hours.
From Bujumbura, you take the two-lane “highway” north for about 2 – 2½ hours. You then turn onto a very poorly maintained dirt road and continue straight for about 1½ – 2 hours until you reach the village.
It’s emotionally demanding because the villages we pass through are some of the most tragically poor places on earth.
You see outright starvation, obvious untreated illness, and rampant unemployment.
Burundi is a nation filled with people struggling from PTSD from being in a constant state of outright warfare. Even when there is no outright war, there is always conflict or a sense of emergency.
In the meantime, the relentless March of Ebola through Congo towards Burundi also has Burundians on edge.
The closest cases are now in Bukavu, a Congolese city approximately 100 miles from Burundi’s capital of Bujumbura. Burundians are trying their best to prepare for the seemingly inevitable arrival of Ebola, but the country’s healthcare system is extremely fragile and ill-equipped to handle a devastating epidemic.
To make matters worse, Burundi has a precarious relationship with the UN, the World Health Organization, and the western nations generally.
It’s this sad situation that keeps my heart locked on Burundi and the suffering people.
Any effort to reduce their stress and suffering is one I want to jump on immediately.
No matter how small or meaningless it might seem in the moment…
Because every action has an effect.
And every individual who’s life is supported creates a ripple effect throughout the entire village and society.
This trip I met a young Batwa man named Gervais.
Gervais is 17 years old and just passed the exam required for him to attend university. If he keeps his grades up his upcoming senior year of secondary school, he will be off to college.
It is a huge achievement for a Batwa to attend university, but what makes Gervais’ story even more incredible is that to attend secondary school, he must walk 12 miles to school, each way!
He leaves his village at 4:30 each morning to get to school by 8:30 and does not return home until 6:30, which in Burundi is well after dark.
I asked him when he studies.
He told me he studies as he walks to and from school and in his house at night when his family can afford a candle.
Gervais wants to be a teacher and a leader in his community.
He wants to help in the efforts to transform Gahararo.
I gave my friends at Harvest money to purchase Gervais a bicycle so his commute to school will be more manageable.
It’s these little ripples that I believe will create the necessary impact to truly help in a real, tangible way.
And I want to invite you to make a difference in Burundi with me.
Even a small action will help Burundians like Gervais who are burning with passion and raw potential.
We need to empower these individuals who can benefit entire societies through a lifetime of accomplishments.
Learn more about how you can support below and thank you for reading about our friend Gervais.
GCA was born in 2005 with a bag of rice and beans donated to a kitchen for underprivileged children in the rural community of Colonet, Mexico.
Since that time, we have grown into an important international humanitarian organization with many projects in Mexico and the African nation of Burundi. We are continuing to grow and expand every day as we build on our successes of the past and look forward to the future.
Our projects are changing and saving lives all over the world.
meals served to children at Frances Kitchen over 11 years
people have used the community center
served daily with fresh and clean water in Burundi
houses built for an entire village of Batwa people
school uniforms for underprivileged Batwa children
bowls of porridge served to the Batwa children of Gahararo
Who We Are
Global Care Alliance, formerly known as The Frances Kitchen Project, Inc., was founded in 2007 by Niles Sharif. Our very first project was to build a stand-alone kitchen at a severely impoverished school in the Mexican farming town of Colonet. Our partner in that project was a lady named Frances Sifuentes, hence the original name of our organization. Frances continues to feed 125-150 children a hot and healthy meal each and every school day throughout the year. For many of the children attending the school, the meal they are served by Frances is the only hot meal they ever get.
Niles R. Sharif
Mr. Sharif, a trial lawyer with 30 years of experience, is the founder and president of GCA. Mr. Sharif is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned a BA in Rhetoric. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin and was admitted to the California Bar in 1988. He is also a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Mr. Sharif founded GCA as The Frances Kitchen Project in 2005, formally incorporating as a 501c3 nonprofit charity in 2007. The name of the organization was formally changed to Global Care Alliance in 2018 to reflect the fact that GCA has become a global organization with operations on multiple continents.
Mr. Sharif is married to Barbara Sharif, his wife of 34 years. The Sharifs have three adult daughters, all of whom are involved in the work of GCA.
Serving Hot Meals in Mexico:
Clean Water in Burundi:
Solar Electricity and Safe Housing (2021):
We need your help to continue the life-changing work in these regions. In 2021 we plan to build more mud homes for the villagers in Gahararo II and Musama. We also have our hearts set to build a solar-based electrical infrastructure so families can have electricity at night and their children can have more time to study.
Please consider financially contributing as you feel led to help us continue this important work in these areas of need.