Going home 2Burundi, situated at the crossroads of Francophone and Anglophone Africa, the developing East African Community and the undeveloped central Africa is a nation in transition. Wracked by decades of inter-tribal violence, Burundi emerged in the early 2000s with a new constitution and a power-sharing government headed by Pierre NKURUNZIZA. Though slower than her northern cousin Rwanda to make major changes (such as making English an official national language), Burundi has begun to enjoy the dividends of peace as foreign investment and federal revenues rebound under stable direction.

The 10.8 million inhabitants of Burundi live lives of rural subsistence farming (<10% of the population live in urban centers) without electricity or improved toilet facilities. These resilient Africans face numerous challenges to breaking out of the cycle of poverty. Fewer than half of Burundian adults have completed primary school and more than half (58%) of children are stunted (irreversibly reduced in their physical and intellectual capacity) due to malnutrition in their first five years. Making it to five years old is an accomplishment in itself with infant mortality ten times higher than the US (59/1000 births vs 5.9/1000 births) and only 90% of kids reaching their sixth birthday. Reproductive and family data tell a similar story with maternal mortality forty times higher than the US (800/100,000 live births vs 21/100,000) and 11% of women entering motherhood during their teens.

And though Burundi is one of the poorest (GDP/capita is $300) and hungriest (2013 Global Hunger Fund rating) nations on earth, there are great reasons for hope. The national government sponsors health care for pregnant women and children under 5 years old, leading to substantial reductions in infant, child and maternal mortalities in the last 10 years. Compared worldwide, Burundi has made some of the greatest strides in educating itself with 98% of primary school-aged children attending school on a daily basis. What she lacks in natural resources, Burundi is determined to make up for in human resource.