Archive for the Burundi Category

Off the Grid: A Dispatch from Burundi

Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 at 10:17 am

By Jennifer Weiss, Health Advisor, Concern Worldwide US

I started my work in Burundi around a year ago. Before I visited the country, I remember my colleague describing Burundi to me. “It’s off the grid,” she said.

Jennifer Weiss forgoes the van and continues her journey cross the rickety bridge on foot.

The comment struck me as odd. I assured her that I had lived in Africa before and was more than prepared for the work that lay ahead.  I couldn’t possibly understand what she meant by “off the grid.”

I quickly learned. Burundi, despite its geographic proximity to Tanzania, Kenya, and Rwanda, countries with growing economies and booming tourism industries, is heartbreakingly poor. In fact, Burundi is one of the world’s five poorest countries. I knew this statistic before departure. However, it wasn’t until I arrived in Burundi’s capital city of Bujumbura that I completely understood my colleague’s description. While in other capitals there are new businesses and construction, in Bujumbura there are none to be seen. When I asked a friend of mine who had been in Burundi in the ‘80s to explain how the capital had changed since then, she frankly responded: “It hasn’t.”

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Investing in Burundi’s Greatest Asset

Posted on Friday, January 27th, 2012 at 9:56 am

By Nicki Sugrue

Jean Kwizerimana, 15, is a sixth-year student at Rugendo Primary School in Burundi who received a school uniform and supplies from Concern Worldwide.

September is the beginning of the school year in Burundi, but for many children it is just like any other month. Twelve years of civil conflict, which ended in 2005, left the country scarred. Reconstruction has been slow, significantly impacting the quality of education and the standard of schools available. Many families do not have the means to send their children to school and, even when they do attend, there is a high drop-out rate due to large class sizes and a lack of school materials and infrastructure. Read the rest of this entry »

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