Yesterday was really pretty awesome. We spent the morning going to the town we are building for the villagers we are relocating, called Kokiza and it’s incredible. At first you might think that relocating is a negative, but the way we are doing it is something I am really proud to be a part of. We’re moving 15,000 people to new homes, which are on average twice the size of the homes they are leaving. The picture below is what nearly every home looks like for the families we are moving. That means about 2-5 people per hut. It is extreme poverty here, well below less than a $1/day, likely closer to 50cents/day.
That said, living out here as one of them is nothing to be ashamed of. These people are nice, clean, industrious, and care a lot about their community. When talking to a community that was not being relocated (even though they wished to be after seeing the city we were building), were interested in nothing else but the school we were building for them. Above all else, they just wanted to know that their kids would have a place to go to school.
Kokiza is quite a site to see. We’re building new schools, hospitals, farms, and even soccer fields, all strategically placed so that nothing is too far from one community or another. The 15 communities we are moving there will be placed by one another, but will share the same facilities as the other communities, so as to build connections between them all. By law we are required to replace people’s assets at market value+ 50%. I was glad to see that we blew minimum out of the water, and that these people will be getting an amazing jump on their future.
Finally, last night I went on a walk with my co-worker, Jean-Baptiste through the local village. I’ve never been stared at more in my life. The locals have seen white people here, but never as young as myself, and have likely never seen one walking, but always driving in a vehicle. Little kids would follow me around and get giddy when I said hello. It was a pretty awesome experience. Of course, some older kids were a little racist and assumed I was the boss and that Jean, who is 12 years my senior, was working for me. They wanted me to buy them cigarettes. Jean took it really well though, and between this walk and the drive around Kokiza, it was a great chance to see what I would be a part of here.
It really means a lot that so many people care about what I am doing. I wouldn’t be here without the support of those around me, or, I guess now it would be fitting to say, without the support of those following me. Thanks for reading.