Genevieve Boulanger

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Burundi under a new eye

How to start or how to return to words, the flavor of what I discovered this summer in Burundi with the forum. Arriving in Burundi after 23 hours of flight and one night in Ethiopia, our luggage did not follow us so far. I tell you right now, they arrived the next day. In the meantime the lady with whom we stayed, welcomed us very warmly. She even lent us clothes. The next day, we went to relax on a beach on Lake Tanganyika, this is one of the first times I felt really watched or watched. It's not an unhealthy look, but rather curious and captivated. You have to get used to it because it will be like that throughout the stay.

I discovered a hilly country with much more greenery than I imagined for the dry season. Arriving at Don Bosco High School in Ngozi where we were staying Canadian, Belgian, Congolese and Burundian for the next 2 weeks, this is another side of Burundi that we discover ...

For example, the toilet, a hole with two bricks, left a strong impression. At first, going to the toilet was rather painful, but after I got used to it and it's not so bad anymore.

Also, on the school grounds, there were many children, dirty, with clothes often torn, with or without sandals, but happy (satisfied, comfortable) with the little they own. I'm not saying they would not be better with a little more, but I never really felt like they were pitiful.

One important thing is time management or non-time management. Often, being on time did not mean much, which was frustrating especially when there were tasks to be done. But let's say that we were in Africa, this is

not the same... I think I should have been more flexible, and surely some situations would have been different. Communication is also different, I think, with a decline, that I could have done better too.

Regarding the site, I have a lot of dust and the locals, who were on the site, were really working with the sweat of their brow. Just a few hours of work and I was tired. While they were there all day, it requires resistance and perseverance.

I have fond memories of the people I met during the forum. I found that the Burundians were very attentive towards us whether it is to get off the road because a bike arrives or to help us with the few words of Kirundi that we hold. Also despite our differences, which sometimes took over our commonalities (which were more numerous), we all had a lot to learn from each other.

To finish, I'll say it, sub-Saharan Africa was the last place where I wanted to go, now I will say that if it was again I would start again without hesitation. I am now looking at Africa, at least Burundi, with another eye. I also hope that what I have learned here will reflect this in my actions and decisions.

Geneviève Boulanger Châteauguay, Quebec, Canada Participant