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"A small thing you own is more satisfying than a big thing you borrow"
By Florence Ntakarutimana, Program Manager, HROC-Burundi

I grew up in Burundian society. I used to hear the saying “A small thing you own is more satisfying than a big thing you borrow.” Whenever people say that, they mean that owning something, little as it may be, makes someone feel comfortable and able to face life.

One week ago, I was talking with a woman who sells grilled maize [corn] along the road not far from my home. She told me, I have a capital of 10.000 francs ($8 dollar) and I earn between 1000 francs (80 cents) and 2000 francs ($1.60) per day, but I feel so proud to be able to contribute at least the salt and soap in the family, rather than just asking my husband for money for every little thing, like body lotion.” She joked also and said, “If I stay home and do nothing, I would even be asking my husband for the offering for God on Sundays. So who is going to be rewarded by God? Me or my husband? I feel proud to do at least this little work because it is very meaningful for me. They say in Kirundi “Akamuntu kamara iyagwe” (“A small thing you own is more satisfying than a big thing you borrow.”) I bought one cob of grilled maize from her and ate it — it was sweet!

Through this bio-sand water filter project run by AGLI/HROC in partnership with Quaker Peace and Social Witness, I believe the ex-combatants together with other people in the communities will gain much, because the activity will be their own. I know they will not gain much money, but having this activity will work on their psychology and the results will be very positive. They will have the spirit of independence. They will be happy to get life but also to offer LIFE (Water = Life) though they were known as violent people. It will even be an opportunity for surrounding people to know that there is good in everyone.

The same goes for this goat project run by AGLI/HROC in partnership with Goldman Sacs — the results are already great. The groups have started to give to the friends the second generation of goats. Owning a goat is something valuable in Burundi. They are happy for the manure for fertilizer that the goats can give them. But more than that, people are happy to be known as somebody who “can” have a goat.