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Life in Bujumbura

We are getting ready to leave Bujumbura, but wanted to say a few words about our experience here. This is the first time I have actually tried to live in an area of such poverty, and the reality was eye opening.

The selection at the market was slim, and even slimmer because we were trying to avoid unpasteurized milk and fruit we could not peel. Bread really was one of our only choices here.

But this morning we couldn’t even buy bread. The hotel, a small but very high quality establishment had simply run out. We had the same problem trying to buy minutes for Tammy’s phone, they simply ran out. Everything we see for sale looks as if it has come from other countries as donations. The things that are new are very expensive. We thought we wold look for a computer to leave with Flory, but the computer store only carries one model and it costs the equivalent of $1500 US. As a point of reference, a cup of coffee at this fancy hotel is about 80 cents US.

We were able to finally find soccer jerseys as gifts, but they are from the 2002 season. There simply is not a supply of things in Bujumbura for people to buy. It is a strange reality, to see things that are becoming modern but still so far from what they could be.

We checked the World Bank lists yesterday. Burundi is the 4th or 5th poorest country in the World, DR Congo is the third. I wonder just how bad off Zimbabwe is at the number one spot.

We will be on a plane to Addis Ababa in just a few hours, and home in less than 36 hours. It is almost sad to leave, and we are not sure how easy it will be to readjust to the luxuries we take for granted in the United States. We haven’t gotten too used to poverty though. We are both looking forward to the movies on the plane and plan to take hot showers as soon as we get home.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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