Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hello from Bujumbura

Well, the journey has begun. Arrived this morning in Bujumbura to be met by Flory Zozo and his wife Amina Gisele, who are my main contacts in DR Congo. Flory is a pastor with REMAC church where he acts as a bishop, meaning he trains other pastors for 40 some congregations, mostly in DR Congo. Amina coordinates the Women’s Trauma Healing and Care Center in Bukavu, which is now 7 months old and will be graduating its first group of “sisters” in June. To learn more about their work, go to

(Sorry about the pictures-- camera had a hiccup!)

Bujumbura is the capital of Burundi and a port on Lake Tanganyika. It’s a busy city filled to the brim with people walking and on bicycles, all commerce now that peace has been reestablished. I’m staying in a hostel for pastors, which conveniently has both a restaurant and internet cafĂ©. It's located next door to a famous French bakery, so the smell of fresh baked bread fills the air.

After meeting Flory and Amina, today's highlight was the “BATIMBOKAZI” Women’s Association, a group of 25 women and girls who play huge drums and dance in traditional manner. Many of them are widows who lost husbands during the war here about 5 years ago and now have no way to make a living. They have come together to help each other through the drums.

They play as a group, then the beat changes and each woman dances her own dance. This was my favorite part when even the young girls danced.

Their vision is to use the drums to feed their families, pay rent, send their children to school, and eventually develop other small businesses.

They would like to perform outside Burundi and asked Flory and I how to promote their drumming in other countries. We suggested they make a video and send it to interested parties. If anyone reading this blog would like to help these women advertise their drumming, email me here and I will put you in touch with them.

Tomorrow we leave for Bukavu, in Congo, which lies 5 hours to the north on Lake Kivu. We will travel by bus as Flory says the road is horrible and easier to navigate in a van.

With love and gratitude,

Dr. Victoria
PS if anyone out there knows how to place multiple pictures on with relevant copy alongside; please let me know. Thanks