Margot, Flor, Veerle, Maaike and Laurens

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Testimony

The meeting with Burundian youth: an unforgettable experience

July 29, what a suspense! Some of us are flying for the first time, and the destination of it is ... Bujumbura, Burundi. We do our "goodbye" not only to our parents, friends and friends in Belgium, but also to the luxury of our city, Bruges. What a discovery! In the travel guides, Burundi is not indicated as a holiday destination or as a quiet country to visit as tourists.

Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world recovering from a civil war. But this country has been for us much more than that. What a welcome ! We were received everywhere with wide smiles and "Yambu Muzungu" (which means "hello whites"). We discovered Kirundi, the Burundian language. And when we tried our first Kirundi words in the street, we would get stunned looks and ask them to learn Dutch. We stayed two weeks in one of the poorest areas of Burundi and there, luxury often

was far from us. With 30 young Burundians, we established the camp in the buildings of a boarding school and helped to build a school. After one night, we found that there were plenty of fleas in the mattresses, holes used as toilets, and we had to share a single tap at 50 for cooking and washing. The "shower" was actually a basin that we had to throw ourselves on the head. Hot water seemed like a distant dream. For us it was a real adventure! But we noticed that we could quickly adapt.

And even without luxury, we had three fantastic weeks. We literally put our stone in a school building. We selected the bricks, formed chains for the masons, we occupied every day that the walls of the school

grow up. Communication with the local population was limited, as most spoke only Kirundi. But if we only used a few words of Kirundi, we gathered laughter and a warm atmosphere. What touched us the most is the meeting and the intense friendship with the Burundian people. Their brilliant smiles, their perpetual optimism, their cheerfulness, their interest in Belgium and their availability, we will never forget.

We got acquainted with the rhythms of the Burundian drums, but also the dances, the songs, the Burundian games. We still sometimes think secretly long evenings by the fire under a beautiful starry sky and shooting stars. After three unforgettable weeks, we took leave, with great sadness, of our Burundian friends and their culture. With a suitcase full of memories and exciting stories, we headed back home, but we still think about our trip, its many memories.

Margot, Flor, Veerle, Maaike and Laurens