Burundi

History of DGH In the Community

Burundi is officially the poorest country in the world—and it is a place of great potential for building health and social justice.  Kigutu is located in a rural part of the country where Village Health Works (VHW) began a project several years ago, under the direction of Dr. Deo Niyizonkiza. As part of the current project, there are community initiatives for housing, there are Health Promoters working with patients with AIDS and tuberculosis, as well as primary care for all aspects of the peoples' health.  The community project is a truly a product of the local people, as Dr. Deo grew up in this community and Dr. Melino (the current medical director) used to teach school in Kigutu before attending medical school. The Burundian language, Kirundi, is widely spoken but many speak French and English as well. Burundi is also world famous for its drumming—and there is an active drumming group in the community that tours around promoting this music. Additionally, there is a garden that is well kept by the community and volunteers at the site.  In 2008, DGH was invited to join and work in the community to provide community service experience, introduce the liberation medicine approach, and to help recruit humble expert volunteers to assist. DGH has since then been promoting health and social justice in Kigutu.

Current DGH Projects

DGH currently supports projects in Kigutu by recruiting trained medical volunteers – nurse practitioners, physicians assistant, physicians, etc.

Opportunities to Make a Difference

  • Volunteer Roles: as with all our sites, there are several ideal volunteer prototypes: Nurse Practitioner or Physicians Assistant level trained volunteers would work with Achel, a person trained 3 years in health care at the District Officer level, who sees patients by himself with MD guidance. Based on their experience, physicians would see patients initially with Dr. Melino, a top-notch physician.
  • Volunteers would be well served to speak either French or English (better yet, both), and learn a hand full of words in Kirundi before arrival.
  • A minimum stay of 1 month is required from volunteers, however 6 months or a year for a really good, humble, hardworking volunteer would be ideal. For an HIV specialist or attending level primary care doctor, even a few weeks might be useful. The strength of this community’s initiative and work is a good reminder for us all, at all levels of training or experience, to stay humble and open to new approaching and learning.