This week, there were nearly 10 visitors from Burundi who came to tour the yogurt kitchens. They are from various organizations that are involved with the fight against HIV/AIDS, and improving the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. It is really exciting and inspiring to see how the kitchens are expanding organically across East Africa without the help from Canada.
On Thursday we went to the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), which is where scientists make the probiotic that is mixed into the yogurt. The Burundi guests were getting step by step lessons on how the probiotic is made, and where it comes from. There was one unfortunate statement, however, that almost sent the Burundi guests running in the other direction. The scientist was explaining that the probiotic helps fight a type of vaginal infection, which in turn lowers the risk of HIV being transmitted to a woman. I think because of a language barrier (dear goodness I hope it was because of a language issue) the scientist confused the origin of the probiotic, telling the guests that it “was from the vagina,” implying that the probiotic going into the yogurt that they had all been eating was derived from someone’s lady parts. The Burundi guests, understandably, recoiled in horror at this comment. It was not until we left NIMR that we got the origins of probiotics sorted out (much to their relief).
The Burundi guests are so excited to return to their country and start a yogurt kitchen of their own. They plan on starting a partnership with Western Heads East, and UWO. I told them that in the future, if they would like, an intern from UWO could come and visit their project in Burundi. They asked if I would be coming to Burundi, but I said I could not due to my time restrictions in Mwanza. I suggested though, that maybe one of the interns coming in September could make a trip to Burundi, to which they replied “no, no, no, they send an intern from Canada, to replace you, then you come back to Burundi with us!” (seriously, the people in East Africa are too kind!)