I think what surprises so many people when we talk about Burundi, or when they arrive at Kibuye after hours of travel to visit us, is how beautiful our home is. Seventy degrees, almost all the time. Green rolling hills, lush fields, banana trees, colorful flowers. The people we live and work with are also beautiful. Not just physical beauty, but the beauty of surviving and prevailing and finding joy in sometimes less than joyful circumstances. The old lady who shows a smile with no teeth. Shy, rag-clad children, giggling as they roll an old tire along the ground with a stick. A church packed full of myriads of brightly colored dresses on its faithful attenders.
It's a balance for us, one we have tried hard to strike, between showing the immense poverty and sadness and need all around us, without giving a false impression that there is only tragedy, only grief, only darkness all around. It's what is easier to write about, sometimes. But I came across an article on Facebook the other day, how Africans are fighting back against the stereotypical image of Africa as a famine stricken desert full of empty eyed, gaunt orphans. Real Africans from a variety of countries are sharing images of the Africa that they know, an Africa most are surprised to find exists. I can't recommend the website per se (so if you visit, know that there are some bizarro links along the top and sides) but the article is great. Click here if you're interested.
May we never show poverty for shock value's sake. May we remember each person whose story we share...a person who is not just sick or broken, but who is a child of God that usually has a family, friends, a home, a past, and a future. Burundi is a beautiful place. Complex, but beautiful, and in the midst of the elections and evacuations, deaths and sicknesses and hospital stories. we hope to continue to be able to share that with you.