Dora’s Corner: August Updates from East Africa

GPFD Program’s Report for August

The projects that have been commissioned are:

  • Lake Primary– on 24th June 2022: Lake Primary is a large school located in Homabay town. The school serves 1,100 students and has 30 teachers. 

  • Ringa Girls Secondary- on 28th July 2022 (Check out the video here): Ringa Girls Secondary School is a public boarding school that serves 639 girls in the Kasipul Constituency of western Kenya. 

  • Kodida Primary- on 2nd August 2022: Kodida was established in 2010, funded by the community to ensure their children could easily access school. The school serves 345 students with 5 teachers.

My Stay In Bujumbura

I was in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, from July 8th to July 23rd attending the mentorship camp sessions held by Menya Accelerator and from the moment I landed at Melchior Ndadaye International Airport and felt that heat on my face, I knew I’d be alright. It was 27 degrees Celcius, my kind of weather although 3 degrees less compared to the weather I am used to in Mbita.

The national languages among the Burundians are French and Kirundi. There are very few who speak English and given the influence of Tanzania and Congo, they also understand and speak Kiswahili. Every day, I would make my way to Entente Sportive, where the sessions would start from 9:30am through to 4:30pm. I was present in weeks two and three where the sessions focused on IT- software applications, opportunities program and entrepreneurship leadership.

Africa has fifty-four countries and we are all different in culture, laws, mannerisms and terrain, however the proximity with Kenya and given that Burundi is part of the East African Community- there were some things that came as a shock to me and if you may indulge me:

  1. Time. There is the concept of ‘island time’ of ‘African time’ but for Burundians, they have all the time possible to man, and it started from the clearance at the airport on both arrival and departure which took more than two hours. If you show any sign of impatience, you can pace to the moon and still come back and be attended to.

  2. Mayonnaise; it is available in plenty, served, loved and requested for by many whenever you eat out.

  3. They drive on the right side of the road.

  4. They have two-pole/type c sockets in most buildings.
  5. Patience- if there are people who are patient, well…a visit to the bus park is proof of people queuing for hours on end in single files waiting to board buses.

  6. No photos allowed of the independence square and memorial park in the CBD and given the tumultuous history of the country, this was something I could understand- when they are a reminder of war and revolutionary leaders lost, it is in line that they would not want them deemed as tourist sites.

  7. They love beer and it’s their national pride- it’s called Primus, when you drive out of the airport you can see a big bottle statue of it.

I couldn’t have enough of the Marracudja (Passion) juice and a week down, I was longing for food that reminded me of home, and we found a Swahili community in an area called Bwize- and I got to have some pilau. 

At the end of my stay, one thing that stayed with me is that we have no excuse in giving it all when it comes to implementing our projects, because for a country that is still riddled with fear, that has seen war, uprisings and military rule-there are start-ups like Menya Accelerator working, striving to create a positive outcome for young people. If they can do that in Bujumbura, what’s stopping us in Kenya where conditions and policies are more favorable amongst many other things, from going beyond our best?


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