Support Burundi

Williams College abounds with fundraisers for various causes, particularly those that are international. So often, however, the organizations we donate to retain a nebulous quality; we know the organizations claim to be serving their patients, but often donations do not reach their intended receivers and are absorbed by the bureaucracy of the non-profit. If we are not sure where my money will be going, and whether it will actually help anyone, why should we donate it in the first place?

There are students at the College, however, who have grown up in places where the non-governmental organizations we are donating to function. Asvelt J. Nduwumwami’s ’12 brother, Deogratias (Deo), established an organization in their home town of Kigutu, Burundi. Village Health Works (VHW), opened its doors in October 2006, and its clinical team has provided quality, free health care to patients from all over the country. VHW differs greatly form the hospital where Asvelt’s family used to go for treatment when they became sick: patients there were put in detention for not being able to pay for the inadequate treatment they were receiving. Today, VHW is improving the health of Burundians and bringing together Burundians who have been killing each other for more than a decade. VHW proves that reconciliation between such groups is possible through constructive work for the common good.

Donating to VHW is not just about providing aid to the anonymous people halfway across the world; it is about supporting our fellow community member in Asvelt’s effort to rebuild his country after many years of war.

Deo, founder of VHW, and Tracy Kidder, author of Mountains Beyond Mountains, will be coming to campus to speak about healthcare in Burundi. The talk will be in Brooks-Rogers at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 19. To help support Deo’s work in Burundi, Peacetalk: Africa, along with Williams College Dining services, is sponsoring a Burundian themed-dinner at Greylock Dining Hall from 5 to 8 p.m. this Wednesday, Nov. 19, prior to the lecture. A portion of each student’s meal points will be donated to VHW. Further donations are welcome at both events.

Leah Katzelnick ’10
Asvelt J. Nduwumwami ’12