Christine Marecki

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A summer in Burundi ...

What I remember from my stay in Burundi ... First of all, it was an extraordinary experience. At least, my common, so my benchmarks, my values ​​and my lifestyle. Obviously, this country is of a green beauty strewn with red earth, rich and intense. Beyond this beautiful landscape bordered by hills and banana trees, there are smells, colors, fabrics, food and language forming the unique culture of this country.

During my stay there, surrounded by several young people from different countries, so with customs, ways of doing and mentalities different from mine. We were able to share and share about our way of life, our ambitions, our dreams and our values. We have learned from other cultures and have kept an openness and sharing with each other in order to get the most out of this experience.

I did not meet a bitter or sad people despite the poverty that I saw there. I have seen people come out of a crisis, and so happy, full of hope, who see a future where peace and solidarity reign, working for the reconstruction of their country. I did not hear people there complaining about their situation. Schoolchildren, proud of their opinions, curious about others who want to get involved and work.

What is most striking is the children at first. They were very present during my adventure. I saw a lot of children, everywhere. Large families, children in the streets, children who sell peanuts and fruits of all kinds, children and people who walk, watch, smile, work, cultivate, always, around us.

I also noticed some differences in habits and mentalities on different topics still taboo there. Burundians do not confide easily on what they have lived and have banned on certain subjects like homosexuality, sexual diseases, sex ... We do not have the same habits or ideas about religion, family, the couple, the wedding ... But the forum is also built in order to be able to exchange and remain open to the other culture, while accepting and respecting cultural differences.

The rhythm is also very different. It reminds us that we are based on production, speed, stress and performance. I saw and had to learn to accept to take my time, to wait, to have no short-term goal or instant results. So I practiced my patience, my tolerance and I realized the luck we had here on different aspects, but the shortcomings that we have too. We may have forgotten some fundamental things about the human being and the time to live at the expense of results and production.

The trip was intense in discoveries, surprises and very rewarding on many levels. I enjoyed rubbing people, discovering the language, the organizations, the activities and the food from there. I am very happy and proud to have contributed to the development and reconstruction of this country, to have met beautiful people and to have been able to understand or discover a reality like mine.

As in all groups, there were more difficult times or we were more impatient about how people act. I did not always agree with the way of proceeding or acting in normal times or conflict. The organization was not always obvious, but I believe everyone participated and learned from this experience.

If youth shapes the world ... Thus, with all its wealth and will, Burundi has everything to rebuild.

Christine Marecki Montreal-Quebec, participating Canada