(I've changed the name from "Rants" given that I can't really rant about many things that frustrate me here, at least not without getting into some sort of trouble. As such, you'll have to wait for the book.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Of Mice and Men

Cleaning lady just came in to clean out the cupboards in my office. The multiple shelves have been serving as spacious high-rise apartments for the little annoying mice. While traces of their nibbling and feces have been apparent for months, the last week or so has seen a significant increase in activity, just short of seeing empty wine glasses and crumpled party hats. Anyway, as we used to say, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Time for a mousetrap.


We have now moved into our new house. I'm more excited about it than Priya who had grown attached to our neighbors. We're still only a short walk from our former house but it's much more complicated to access our former neighbors than it was – particularly in the evening. Moreover, the new house comes with some issues. One of which is the electricity. We had a massive and sustained power surge (almost double the voltage) and knocked out some of our electrical appliances. This happened in Dar to us a few times as well but not quite on this scale. Our big, expensive surge protector blew up as a result but at least it gave its life to protect our new TV and some other things. The wireless router however was toast along with my computer cable even though they were on the protector. In the kitchen it was the fridge that bit the dust. My desk is now strewn with blackened circuit boards. But we have a nice view.


So the British actress that was interested in coming to visit our projects here in Burundi has confirmed that the trip is on. And wouldn't you know that it is exactly the time that I need to be in NY for meetings. I'm trying to get her team to overlap with me by a day so that I can at least meet her. We don't get that many famous people interested in our work and it'd be nice to be around. More later on who this actress is.


Towards the end of last year we did a survey with Johns Hopkins University for our gender-based violence program across the border in the Congo. The survey interviewed women in rebel-held (FDLR) areas around Bukavu. The results are pretty shocking:

  • 90.7% of interviewed women have been raped at least once in their life
  • 79% of raped women were gang-raped
  • 22.2% have a child from the rape
  • 30% have never told anyone (family, husband, friends) they have been raped
  • 48.9% have been rejected by their families following the incident
  • 51% were abandoned by their husband following the rape


It's a pretty sobering list of statistics. While it makes me glad we're here working on these issues, it just sometimes seems so incredibly daunting what women are going through every day. Our contributions seem very pale in comparison to the magnitude of the problem.

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