georgebrose2008

August 4, 2008  Gitega, Burundi

This is the second largest town in the country, but could still be a sleepy little village as concerns the downtown area. There is a huge catholic diocese on a hill about a mile away. I'm staying at a Friends' peace center that is run by the CEO of the Friends church here in Burundi. He's quite a businessman and has a garage, conference center and several other enterprises linked to the center. He's important enough that he keeps two armed bodyguards on duty. I rode up here with thirteen of the eighteen students yesterday afternoon. Participants would be a better word. They are all adults working with the Quakers in one capacity or another. Two are pastors. 

We've had good interventions as I presented the course today. Our opening was to come up to the front of the class and write your name as you would have as a child, and tell a story about your childhood. It consumed two hours and everybody tried to outdo the previous about mischief they had done as kids. Many of the stories were connected to the taking care of cattle which is very important in this culture.
Ankole cattle are native to Burundi


We've had good interventions as I presented the course today. Our opening was to come up to the front of the class and write your name as you would have as a child, and tell a story about your childhood. It consumed two hours and everybody tried to outdo the previous about mischief they had done as kids. Many of the stories were connected to the taking care of cattle which is very important in this culture. It was extremely humorous and got things off to a great start. Then we worked out the routine for the day. It's an 8-4 pm go. However we have long breaks for tea in the AM a half hour and a two hour lunch break. "We need time to digest." It works great for me so I just pace the teaching a little more quickly. 

This is on a high plateau. We came up steep mountain roads, but now we are on rolling terrain, quite hilly but not mountainous. Some lovely rivers and streams even in the dry season . The dust is red and everywhere. The rivers are red as well. The rains will start in September and go for four or five months, maybe more. I don't know if it turns in to a quagmire and don't care to find out. I'll be gone by then. There's lots of reconcillation and demobilization programs here, evidenced by their signs in front buildings. Every aid oganization you've heard of and then double that number at least. I know Charles Patterson's group Strategies for International Development has supported a number of NGO's up here according to their annual report. Although they do not keep an office of their own in country. I'm going to stroll around town a bit more. 

Talk to you in a day or two. George


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