(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.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


I'm in the vehicle as I type, heading back to Bujumbura from visiting staff and activities in Ruyigi and Muyinga. Over the past decade I've somehow developed a skill of working on my computer in the car without getting carsick. It's an important talent given the amount of time I've spent in Land Cruisers on windy and often bumpy, organ-jiggling roads.

the traditional Burundian drummers at World Refugee Day celebration I was attending
The past few months have gone by very quickly. I’ve made three trips to Rwanda, a trip to the US (including NY and DC). We had a visit by our organization’s president which included a trip to the field (and briefly across the border into Tanzania). I’ve gone from losing almost my entire international team (partially related to the crisis) to successfully replacing each position.

The past year has been one of the most challenging of my career. Fortunately no staff were killed though we did have a few close calls, including a grenade that hit one of our Land Cruisers. We also had some leave the country for their safety. Some have sent their families out of the country as refugees while the head of household remains behind to work. We had a few staff that were arrested but all were subsequently released. 

The good news is that things are better than they were. It's still a stressful environment. But the new team is strong and everyone seems to be getting along well.  The country continues to stumble along. There has been a decline in the sound of gunfire and grenade explosions though we know it’s still happening on a near daily basis.

A couple of weeks ago during our Monday morning meeting (which takes place outside in a round, thatched meeting area) we heard the popping of gunfire not far from our compound. I paused for a second to listen and confirm that it was what I thought it was. There were a couple more shots. A couple of people nodded in confirmation though no one said anything. We just carried on with the meeting. 

making sure the kids don't move any closer
Otherwise, things move on. No one knows where this is going. Negotiations don't seem to be going anywhere. Life is tough for most. As I keep saying, Burundians are very resilient and seem to adjust to the situation as it evolves. It comes from decades of struggle, from colonial times until now. I do believe that in the long run this country is going to pull out of this cycle of nonsense. Just not yet. 

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