So we're headed to Burundi. It's sort of a strange thing to get my brain around since I really hadn't thought about it. At least not recently.
The idea of me going to Burundi and being Country Director for BDI/Rwanda came up quite some time ago but it was just a discussion about what may happen depending on how things go. I hadn't even been to the country until last year though we lived within a few kilometres for about a year. The decision was made while I was on vacation in the US so it ended up being an awkward thing where I had to announce to staff while I was away. There was no possibility to wait until I got back because everything was in motion. The current CD was leaving, my position had to be posted, etc. etc.
Though I am happy for the new opportunity and challenge, it is going to be difficult to leave Tanzania and my team here. I will have been living in TZ for 5 ½ years and I've worked with a lot of my current staff for 4 years (those that were with me back in my Kibondo days). You get close to people after a while and, separating wheat from chaff, we've developed a pretty solid team.
Priya's departure is a bit easier since she had already taken her "professional break" prior to knowing about this transition. Given that she is between jobs, it's a good time for her to try something new and work on her French. She's also been in TZ a couple years more than I so I think she's due for a change as well.
On the positive side, I do have a good feeling about the team there and the operation in general. Even the town has a nice feel to it. Yes, there is tension and a lot going on with the new terrorist threats but such things are part of the deal when you do this work. So far I like Bujumbura and the new team has already been very welcoming. As for working in French again, I guess I don't feel one way or the other about it. I was happy with how comfortable I was with the language after using it so seldom for so long (about 11 years since I've worked in French) and I guess at this point it doesn't seem like that big of a deal.
Some quick facts about Burundi?
One of the ten poorest countries in the world.
Lowest GDP per capita in the entire world.
Tiny. 10,745 sq.miles (vs. Idaho which has 83,642 sq. miles)
Lots of people. 836 people per sq. mile (vs. Idaho which has 15 per sq. mile)
More on Burundi in future postings.
Bujumbura photo I took last year
My handover pushed my ability to function with little sleep and serious jetlag. I arrived in Dar from the US at around 11pm a week ago Thursday and I was home by midnight. My flight to Buj via Nairobi was scheduled for 5:10am, meaning check-in by 4:00am, meaning leave the house by 3:30am, meaning wake up by 3:00am, meaning not a heckuva lot of sleep. After 32 hours of travel from the US and being 10 time zones away from where I started, my little "nap" would be a paltry contribution to alleviate my fatigue. No sleep on the two short flights and I was in meetings in Bujumbura by 9am (Dar time). The day would drag on until nearly midnight that evening due to the farewell/welcome party. Saturday consisted of meetings all day and Sunday I flew back to Dar to be in the office on Monday. Though insomnia has taught me how to function on little to no sleep, I'd be happy if I don't have to do that again.