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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It’s okay to have high standards

This other time I sent an article I had just written to a friend for impressions before putting it online; and most of the comments noted were reka kutwishimako (Stop bragging)! For some reason people have always taken me for a “bragger”; eti I tend to brag a bit too much; eti I have expensive taste… but then most the same people compliment me for having “my feet on the ground” (here I go, bragging some more), so I guess the bragging accusations are just aimed at pissing me of a little bit…

Although I wouldn’t say that I have expensive taste, I’ll admit to having a preference for above-average things. Not “pretty” things though; I’m not the kind of person who’ll hunt brands down. In fact, I tend to shy away from flashy things (apart from the fact that I drive a shiny red car). My shopping is more practical: I’m likely to go looking for good quality stuff; stuff that will last. That’s how I’ve been wearing some of my clothes for 10 years (thank God fashion doesn’t affect the men’s clothing department that much… or so I think), meaning that even though I may shop “expensive”, I don’t shop that much. Anyway, this post isn’t about my shopping habits and fashion sense… it’s about high standards…

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What’s “further education” really worth? (Part 2)

Graduation photo

I have been told my BSc (Econ) (Hons) Business Economics ‘isn’t enough’

In my previous post I told you how I had started this online Masters programme but put a halt to it two modules down the line. I promised to explain why I even started the programme when I didn’t really need the degree to progress in my (current) career path, and when I didn’t really want to learn what I was learning anyway… Well, I panicked. That’s the simple and embarrassing truth!

I panicked!

See, everybody seems to be getting a Masters these days. I’ve even heard people say that a bachelor’s degree is as worthless as a secondary school diploma a few years ago. Furthermore, ‘advanced qualifications’ seem to be the norm to get a ‘good’ job anywhere these days. Then there’s this intelligence and wisdom that seem to ooze out of some (focus on the ‘some’) people with masters degrees… To be brief, I got struck by the fear of missing out!

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What’s “further education” really worth? (Part 1)

Graduation photo

I have been told my BSc (Econ) (Hons) Business Economics ‘isn’t enough’

About a year and a few months ago I embarked on a journey to get myself an ‘advanced degree’ commonly known as a Masters. I joined this online programme, completion of which would grant me a Master of Science in Management and Information Systems: Change and Development – I know, that’s a rather long name for one programme. One year down the line, two modules out of seven completed and almost empty bank accounts, I’m not so keen to go on with the programme anymore. Why?

For starters, as an ‘International student’ (concept which I didn’t know existed for online programmes), I’m charged twice as much as a ‘national’. I don’t know who came up with this concept and why, but to me it’s a form of discrimination… though I’m yet to figure out against whom it is directed. I guess it can mean one of two things: either the host country considers foreigners richer than nationals, or it’s a strategy to keep foreigners away from their schools (whatever happened to globalisation?)

Anyway, even if I were to pay at the ‘nationals’ rate, it would still be a lot of money, once converted to Burundian Francs. I may have a good job and a very good salary (Burundian standards), but our British Pounds exchange rate makes our currency somewhat worthless. Well, I could actually tighten my belt a little bit and proceed with the course but I’m not quite sure if it’s worth it.

Which brings me to my second point: I don’t quite need the qualification right now. I happen to work in an organisation where a Masters won’t make any difference at all, considering pay or evolution of my career. Then there’s the fact that I’m not quite studying what I actually want to study. At this point, you’re probably wondering why I started the programme in the first place, but you’ll get that answer later… Right now I’m thinking about the people who aren’t as ‘lucky’ as I am. People who actually need advanced degrees to ‘progress’ in their careers but either don’t have access to them or simply can’t afford them. They constitute a large majority of the employed (and unemployed) population.

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