Tour de Force, Part One: Hewlett Packard, Health, Making Music and Developing Beautiful Hearts

By Executive Director, Julie Marner


BFI Tour de ForceAs mentioned in our BFI newsletter, upon landing at Bujumbura’s International Airport, we headed to the hotel immediately for our Hewlett Packard Skype session introducing off-line learning to our BFI IT Department. Thanks to a grant from H.P., the seven of us who traveled to Burundi had computers and projectors stuffed in our luggage to hand deliver to BFI’s in-country IT department. The initial Skype training between our HP San Diego partners and our Burundian IT Department allowed us to train a few lead trainers in English curriculum prior to training more instructors. As we continue to ship English books and build libraries, we know an invaluable tool for our students will be the ability to bring the world’s curriculum, English learning and beyond, to our remote village classrooms. Pre-selected curriculum by BFI’s incomparable Volunteer English Teacher, Sylvia Anderson, was downloaded on our computers in San Diego at H.P. then presented to our Instructors to start the process of familiarization of content. Together, we will be initiating a pilot project to teach this curriculum in Burundi classrooms. Stay tuned for news on this exciting new launch of knowledge! Thank you, Hewlett Packard!


BFI Health Department CoordinatorImmediately following our Skype session, several of us met with BFI’s Health Department Coordinator, Célestin Habimana. Did you know we have nine other areas of education beyond our English instruction? We sure do and each department is remarkable in its passion and service to fellow Burundians. Health Volunteer, Celestin, is a consummate professional now leading 81 BFI Health Clubs serving in 7 provinces, including Rema & Matana Hospital, and Health Centers in Mubavu, Kiremba Sud, and one in Rumonge. The mission of his team of volunteers focuses on improving living conditions of communities by promoting health in all fields anchored at the local level, right where Burundians live because many do not seek medical advice or assistance in a time of need. With a vision of serving the community by providing curative care through health facilities the current areas of emphasis include nutrition, the prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases, reproductive health, the fight against sexual and gender-based violence, hygiene and sanitation. BFI in the U.S. hopes to continually link these health efforts in Burundi to U.S. universities and colleges for an ongoing exchange of information and support. Want to be a U.S. Health Volunteer bridging the two cultures together benefiting Burundians? Contact me for further information at


Suzuki Violin Method in BurundiDays two and three of our trip had our Tour de Force U.S. Tourists divided into different teams tackling areas of education, improvisation, monitoring and evaluation, music and partner development in Burundi.   Let me start introducing the team! Ms. Susanna Han traveled to Burundi to launch the Suzuki Violin Method in Burundi. Not only did each of us carry HP computers and projectors in our luggage, but we also carried six violins of various sizes and a medium-sized keyboard. On our first full day in Burundi, Susanna was able to meet her violin student, Aime Ndayi, for the first time! For the past four years Susanna and Aime having been Skyping violin lessons weekly, but on August 10th, the student and the maestra met face to face. Beautiful! Susanna and Aime worked together all day, every day during our visit. Aime is not only a student, but he has become a violin instructor teaching seven younger students. Guess what? The kids alongside Aime and Susanna all performed together at a church in Mutakura Commune on the Sunday of our visit. Aime grew up in an orphanage in Murakura with little hope for a future, yet today he attends college, thanks to BFI supporters, and dreams of teaching violin in Burundi as a career. He’s doing it today and our deep gratitude goes to Susanna for her steadfast commitment to Aime and to Burundi.


Clearly there is so much information to share. You’ll have to stay tuned for Tour de Force, Part Two and Three, to meet the remaining team members and see what unfolded. I’ll end with a quote from Shinichi Suzuki, “Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.”