Hello everyone! I’m off on another trip to a new place — this time to Burundi. This will be a relatively short trip, and I won’t have Internet access for the majority of the time I am there. So I’ll tell you a little about the trip now and then post more information when I get back.
The official name of Burundi is the Republic of Burundi, and it is located in the African Great Lakes region of Southeast Africa (sometimes called Central Africa), bordered by Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is a landlocked country, but much of the Western border runs along Lake Tanganyika. It is known as one of the world’s poorest nations and is struggling to emerge from an ongoing ethnic-based civil war. More than 300,000 people have been killed in the civil war since 1993, with clashes between a Tutsi-dominated army and Hutu rebel forces. After a number of failed cease-fire attempts, a 2001 peace plan included a power-sharing agreement that has been relatively successful with peaceful transfers of power between leaders from the Tutsi and Hutu groups. However, opposition groups to the current President are accusing him of seeking to rewrite the constitution for his party’s own gain and of behaving increasingly like a dictator, and there are concerns of a new wave of violence ahead of a presidential election scheduled for 2015.
You can read more about the civil war and the power-sharing agreements in a BBC profile of Burundi here.
Why Go to Burundi?
Counterpart International is implementing a program called Youth for Peace Building in Burundi (Y4PBB). Burundian youth in particular are struggling economically and socially and are prone to manipulation by political parties and groups that can often result in violence. Therefore, the goal of this program is to reduce the risk of youth participation in violence in Burundi related to the upcoming 2015 general elections and to provide long-term socio-economic opportunities for young people (ages 18-35).
What Will I Be Doing While I’m There?
I’m traveling to participate in the “start up” of this new program, which means that we are setting things up and getting our activities going. As part of this process, we are identifying the local Burundian organizations that we will be partnering with to conduct peace building and economic development activities. We will be introducing them to the goals of this program as well as Counterpart’s organizational values and procedures. During my visit, we will be holding a workshop with potential partners that will introduce the project, provide guidance to partners for grant applications, and provide guidance for increased organizational development and gender integration in programming.
I will be one of the facilitators for the partner workshop, introducing the potential partners to Counterpart’s gender integration approach as well as teaching them how to incorporate gender into their proposals and activities. Throughout my time in the field, I’ll also be working with the Y4PBB staff to learn about their past work in this area as well as to identify their needs and build their skills for gender integration and organizational development.
I am greatly looking forward to meeting both the Y4PBB team and the representatives of the local organizations who will be partnering with us on this exciting project!