georgebrose2008

August 13, 2008  (catching up) Sunday

 Weakened but fever down, I walked to the Quaker center offices, buying a day old baguette on the way at the Patisserie Magique. The lady said it might not be good but she wouldn’t discount it. I had some coffee and shared all we could eat of it with Andrew. Later in the day it had already gotten too hard to eat except dunked. I sat at the computer until 10 AM when Andrew and I went to the Quaker evangelical service downstairs. The volume level on the P.A. system is deafening in the front half of the church, but those are the prime seats where the ushers always want to place us. Andrew has never been able to sit further back than the second row. I told him to follow my lead and we headed to the back against the painful smiles of protest from the usher. He finally acquiesced, accepting my polite insistences.

Andrew thought the sound was now comprehensible. He’s musically astute and recognizes the muscianship of the performers , but also says he wants so badly to do down to one of their rehearsals and tune the guitar. The service was an all time brief one, just under two hours. We came out and had a light lunch upstairs at the center. We had been invited to the home of Florence at 2pm and I figured correctly there would be some lunch served there as well.

Another employee of the center, Desire, came for us and guided us there by taxi. Florence and her husband, Dominique, have 3 small children. They live in a new house in what would be called a high density suburb in Zimbabwe or South Africa. It has a high wall around it as do all the homes. It has a nice living room and dining room, three bedrooms. Cooking is done outside on a charcoal stove. She served a very good fish out of Lake Tanganyika, mkeki, which I can easily compare to trout in appearance and flavor. It was pan fried, along with French fries, sliced tomatoes in vinegar, cucumbers and onions, and cooked bananas.

Florence is director of the HROC programs here in Burundi , Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities. She has a law background and a B.A. through the university run by American Quakers here in Bujumbura. Her father was killed during one of the many conflicts here. Her mother was later poisoned by a family member, and Florence being the eldest child, married earlier but was still able to get her degree. Husband Dominique is an electrical technician with the Primus Breweries.

I had trained Florence in Mediation last year and she was also the designated person to look after me last year. I didn’t stray far from her on my first visit. She was in the States this Spring on a fundraising tour and I was able to see her for about 30 while she was in transit between Champaign-Urbana, IL and Lancaster, PA. We met along I-70 just north of Dayton about a week before my departure for Africa. About their house. They told us they bought the land and had the house built with a ten year mortgage. Purchase price was $10,000 and over the ten year mortgage they will make $15,000 in payments. I’m not sure what that works out to in interest, but it sounds a bit more reasonable than terms here. Dominique speaks four languages like most people who have been to school, Kirundi, French, English, and Swahili. In talking guy stuff with him, I learn that he was a sprinter and represented Burundi at the All Africa games in Algeria about ten years ago. He still holds a national record in the 4x100 relay. They are well settled in middle class Burundi society, facing many of the same pressures we see at home. Shrinking salaries, rising prices, and risk of foreclosure if there is a missed payment on the house. They have 7 years to go on their mortgage which costs about $300 per month.

After lunch we chatted some more and took leave at about 4:00PM riding a bus back to town. It travelled a different route and went through an area of big houses built for the tropics, a touch of Southern California in the architecture except the tiled roofs are amore earthen brown and grey in color. August 11, Monday I woke early at the hotel and walked with my light bag into the office , buying a fresh baguette for about 20 cents. Had two cups of coffee with the bread and wengt back to the hotel to get my other bag. Bridget Butt was just arriving with a Toyota Rav 4 to pick me up. Bridget is the Director of programs in the Great Lakes area for Change Agents for Peace, International, (CAPI) a Quaker mission out of Norway. She is Canadian and has been working in Africa for 20 years. CAPI is funding the project I’m on , coordinating with AGLI. CAPI therefore pays my expenses of food and lodging and travel around the area and covers the costs of bringing the participants to the all the trainings and the Regional Conference to which we are headed. MIPAREC the owners of the peace center in Gitega, sent the vehicle down yesterday to transport us. The driver went back up there by bus and Bridget will drive me and Florence and Anne-Marie up there today. My first opportunity for private transport. It was an easy trip for a change. But it looks like we arrived late for lunch. Eating lightly yesterday and today has almost put me into a fasting state. We did managed to get some lunch after all.

This afternoon Bridget and I need to put together a plan for the 3 day regional conference which is bringing five people from each of the trainings I’ve been teaching for the past five weeks. With this group of 25 people we will discuss the practicality of the transformative mediation model, how we shall proceed in the future and name an executive committee to maintain mediation in the three countries. People began drifting in from Goma, and Kigali during the afternoon, but the Uvira people didn’t get in until 8:00PM as their bus lost a fan belt 25 kilometers out of Bujumbura and the first replacement was the wrong sized. They were stuck in the middle of nowhere for almost 8 hours. But now everyone is here. August 12 Tuesday Got quite sick again during the night and feel rather weakened in the morning. I’m pretty sure now that the source of the problem is from a bag of peanuts I bought in Bujumbura on Saturday. I ate some on Saturday evening and then again last night. I staggered through the day and we had a good gathering of the leadership from the four centers. Bridget wants to make sure they are really familiar with the process, so we drill them with mediation practice and lead self evaluations during and after each case. All twenty five get to mediate role play case during the three days. There were still some fundamental errors being made , so I think that the drilling was really helpful. I realize how difficult it is do practice mediation in front of one’s peers, and acknowledge this to them. Wednesday August 13 Up at 7:00AM and wash some clothing. Some of the men from the class see me hanging clothes and I don’t know if this depresses them or if I lose face but…

Training goes well in the AM and PM , but I don’t have much appetite yet. The days have been warmer and sunnier this week up here.. The room though rather dank and dingy, but I don’t spend much time awake in the place. I have a much better bed than last week and sleep more comfortable. This afternoon I want to go up to the town to check email if I can get away at a reasonable time. We really pushed the schedule and had only a 30 minute lunch instead of 90 minutes, and I was able to go to town with Florence to buy some cloth and then check the internet to learn that one of our cars died and the other is in need of some major repairs. . When I got back, I sat and talked with the Uvira people, Binwa, Leon, and Mannaseh until supper and sat with Bridget and talked abut going to the high plateau next year. We both are keen to go up there , as there is great need for conflict resolution, but it will be up to her to put it all together for next year. She also invited me to think about going to Pemba island just north of Zanzibar to teach mediation for moslems and Christians living in proximity there. Pemba was the first entry point for Quakers into East Africa in the early 20th century.

After the revolution in Zanzibar in 1964, their property was confiscated has since been leased to a scuba diving company. The lease is up in February and it seems that the Quakers may request that the building be returned to them. If so, there will need to be some activities to justify opening the place as a Peace Center, and mediation training may be one of the programs to meet those needs.


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