Mama

She was a smart student, and not because all parents say they were. I actually stumbled upon some of her high school transcripts one day, and they were spotless. I was pleasantly surprised (not to say that I expected her to be dumb or anything). She could have become a scientist, an engineer, a doctor or something… if her mother hadn’t asked her to go to nursing school instead. She was the second (and most responsible, dare I say) child in a family of nine. Her single mum needed help – read, an extra income – to take care of the little ones. Therefore, she couldn’t afford an education that lasts “forever”, asking for money, instead of making it… so she “had” to get into the workforce as soon as possible. Besides, if she had been “too educated”, she probably would have “scared” potential husbands away: if people say that today, imagine what it must have been like 30 years ago…
Anyway, a few years after nursing school and a job, she met papa, got married… and a few years later – aged 22 – she had me (and a few years later, my brother).

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Dignity

98% of the people who are going to read this probably know me as “Mister Burundi” or “KRis/Chris the blogger”. Some would even call me an “activist”, a title I’m not quite comfortable with. Very few know that there is something I actually I enjoy more than writing and sharing stories: …my job!

What do you do, you ask?

In 2011, my mum, some cousins and I started a non-profit organization called Sacodé. We’re engaged in community health and development in Burundi, and we work especially with women and the youth. During the organization’s first few years, I worked in the background; but in 2015, I decided to quit my high-pay-trips-abroad-permanent-contract job at the Revenue Authority/OBR (a decision many still call “foolish”) and dedicate all my resources to the work we do at Sacodé. I’ve never made a better decision in my life! It came with its own set of challenges, but what really comes easy in life?

I love this job because it takes me beyond just complaining about the problems in Burundi to taking concrete steps towards actually fixing some of them! I know this sounds cliché, but as I write, the lives of 16,856 women and youth in Burundi have changed or have a better chance of changing for the better, thanks to the work we do. Among them are schoolgirls and female high school students whose school attendance and performance have significantly improved, thanks to a product we developed specifically for them, but which can also benefit millions of other girls and women in Burundi. Details are in the 5 minutes long video below.

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On moving on

I’m the type of person who would elope. Well, I would (probably) never marry anyone my parents, close family and friends do not know about (and approve, to some extent), but I could certainly says the vows, receive the blessing, and sign the papers in a tiny ceremony with just my bride and I. I believe certain important life events are best celebrated intimately. Before you call me selfish (or totally confused), which I’m sure my mama will, hear me out! I have a plan. If I ever elope, I plan to later have a big sort of “introduction party”, for our parents to invite their friends to celebrate “the union of our two families”. But I’ve been wondering what kind of speeches would be said at that party, considering that we’d already be married. I trust my dad to be able to come up with something, but to what extent does the Burundian culture allow creative speeches for couples who eloped? Mbe would there be a dot?

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