Monthly Archives: August 2009

Muzungu!

By Kari Costanza in Rwanda.

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Kari blends in. (Jon Warren/World Vision)

We are back from the field in Rwanda and I am finally able to post a blog. Again we had no Internet where we stayed. It’s really hard to blog without it. The television stations broadcast in French and German so I don’t know what is happening in the world. None of the newscasters use any of the German phrases I learned in high school—they say nothing about blue ink pens or strawberry cake with whipping cream or Wiener schnitzel with red cabbage. There’s also an all-soccer-all-the-time station. People just yell on that one. Soccer has a language all its own. The one thing I do know is that Manchester United won last night and everyone in Rwanda cheered so loudly you could hear them in Burundi. Continue reading

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Six days in Burundi

Kari Costanza checks in before moving on to Rwanda:

We are in Bujumbura—just back from six days in Gasorwe—so I can blog again. We didn’t have Internet access in Gasorwe. Or running water. My bathroom didn’t have a light either, so I brushed my teeth (with bottled water) in the dark. As the morning’s sunshine provided a bit of weak light in my bathroom, I noticed a giant cockroach flailing about in the shower. With no running water, the shower is just for show—or may serve as a home for cockroaches trying to clean up after a long day of nosing around for crumbs. I wondered how long he’d been hanging out in my bathroom, waiting for water. I was thankful for six days of darkness.

People on their way to a political rally.

People on their way to a political rally. (Jon Warren/WV)

I didn’t really mind not having a place to wash. (Much easier to say after the long shower I took as soon as I set my luggage down in this room in Bujumbura. I actually took two. The first one felt so good. Plus, I had a bit more dirt to wash off. After the first shower, my feet were still red—the same color as the earth in Gasorwe. I wonder if I remembered to wear shoes?) But really, it wasn’t so bad. No one in the community has running water or electricity. And very little food. The people of Gasorwe are eating vegetables, sweet potatoes and cassava—tubers so small they fit in the palms of their hands. They’re harvesting too early because they don’t have anything else to eat. Continue reading

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Vacation Bible School Buzz

We received a letter this week from Mulberry United Methodist Church in Mulberry, Ind. When their Autumn World Vision magazine arrived, they were just starting their Vacation Bible School. The cover story, “Taking Cover,” about fighting malaria with insecticide-treated bed nets, inspired their missions project.

Malariapic-blog

“We had a camping theme, so doing the mosquito nets for missions fit in perfectly,” wrote VBS director Ronnette Peden. Each time the kids donated money for a bed net for children in Africa, teachers hung up a picture of a crossed-out mosquito. “The excitement of seeing all those pictures and the excitement of teaching the kids about giving was exceptional,” Ronnette said.

Thanks, Ronnette, for the creative idea and for fighting malaria! This issue is striking a chord—we all know what it’s like to be bitten by a pesky mosquito. But here in the U.S., we’ve beaten malaria, so a bite won’t kill us. Today, prospects are better than ever for beating malaria in the developing world, with treated bed nets as a key tool. When 80 percent of a community’s residents sleep under these nets, malaria prevalence decreases by up to 50 percent.

 Provide a bed net by clicking here, or find out more about World Vision’s End Malaria Campaign.

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Going to Gasorwe

Kari Costanza reports from Burundi.

The drive from Bujumbura to Gasorwe takes four hours, giving us a good opportunity to view Burundi from the ground and to think about our Monday afternoon interview with Simon Heliso, World Vision’s national director in Burundi.

Simon Heliso, World Vision national director in Burundi. (Jon Warren/WV)

Simon Heliso, World Vision national director in Burundi. (Jon Warren/WV)

Simon runs an office of 136 staff in the survival business, working from an office with high walls ribboned in barbed wire and guards who survey oncoming vehicles from a watchtower. World Vision’s work in Burundi ramped up in 1995, bringing aid to 800,000 citizens through relief programs. In the last five years, 100,000 Burundian children have benefited from school feeding programs—plates of nutritious, tasty rice and beans that often serve as their only daily meal. I ate a similar World Food Programme-provided school lunch back in 2007 in Zimbabwe. It was delicious and kept me going until dinnertime. World Vision has also rebuilt homes destroyed in the civil conflict and provided mosquito nets to guard against malaria, Burundi’s biggest killer disease.

Now, says Simon, it is time to move from relief to recovery. “World Vision is one of the first agencies in Burundi to think about long-term development,” he told us. Although Bujumbura, the city where he lives with his family, was a battleground as recently as last year, Simon says things are getting better and the time is right for child sponsorship.  Continue reading

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First impressions

The travelers made it to Burundi. Kari Costanza reports:

Kari's balcony view.

Kari's balcony view. (Jon Warren/World Vision)

I woke up in Burundi this morning. (That was supposed to be yesterday’s lead!) After a crazy morning and afternoon yesterday—sitting on the curb at Nairobi’s International Airport for about six hours, then learning at 2 p.m. that the plane to Burundi would fly just a half hour later (no one ever told us—we had to ask), and then using the teaspoon of charm I had left to convince a policeman that we should cut in front of the hundreds of luggage-bound, frustrated people waiting to get into the airport in order to make our flight—we finally left for Burundi four hours later, about 6 p.m. Schedules were a little off yesterday due to the strike.

We arrived in Burundi in darkness so I didn’t get to see the verdant forests I’ve read of and was planning to blog about. I loved the airport, though. It has tall turrets, shaped like a royal hut I saw in Rwanda a couple of years ago. Everything moved quickly through the airport and people were friendly and welcoming.

We are staying at the Dorado Hotel in Burundi. Since we arrived at night, I couldn’t tell much about the city. It has the wide boulevards I’ve seen in other places where the Belgians and French have been, such as Lubumbashi and Phnom Penh, but everything was pretty dark, just a few shops open, casting rectangles of light along the street. So this morning, I was excited to open my window to see what it looks like, sounds like, smells like, and feels like to be in Burundi. Continue reading

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Striking out to Burundi

Contributing editor Kari Costanza and photo director Jon Warren are on assignment. Kari writes:

This is my first blog. It literally is. I’ve never blogged about anything before. I’m not on Facebook (although my dog is) and I don’t Tweet. This may not be a good blog or even a blog at all, maybe just a paragraph or two. But whatever it is, it was supposed to start differently.

Chaos for travelers.

Chaos for travelers. (Jon Warren/World Vision)

Sunday, August 16, 2009, I was supposed to wake up in Burundi. Instead, I am surrounded by travelers from all over the world, weighed down by their suitcases, backpacks, rolling bags, strollers, crying babies, tall wooden-carved giraffes—all trying to get out of Nairobi’s International Airport.

No one could get out yesterday either. Kenya Airways, called the Pride of Africa, went on strike, leaving what seems a good portion of the world’s vacationing and business population scouring Nairobi for cheap hotels and searching for their luggage rolling around baggage claim on conveyor belts. Like most of the throng, we were finding neither. Continue reading

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