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Made a refugee twice

Alex Goodell | Bururi province, Burundi

Organization: Village Health Works, UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco

Steven Bugaro is a born entrepreneur. Every day, makes a small wood fire outside his home to boil some water. He pours the water into a small green plastic jug and mixes in a handful of fresh yellow ginger and heaping tablespoons of sugar. A few yards from his house, he built a small gazebo, made of palm leaves and uneven planks of wood, where people stop by and sample his strong tea. He is a carpenter who makes his own furniture; he repairs shoes. While I sat in his gazebo having tea, he brought out a dusty 35mm camera with a broken flash, and handed it to me. “I used to run a photography business,” he said.

In the early 2000s, after thirteen years of civil war, Burundian refugees began to return home from camps in Tanzania. Many were unable to return to their previous lands and were left homeless. The UN began to organize “peace villages,” small neighborhoods with support from multiple UN agencies, aimed at spurring economic development and providing these former refugees with shelter. Yet without sizable plots or job training, these “peace villages” quickly became pockets of extreme poverty.

This project was supported by the UC Berkeley School of Journalism and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health Global Health Reporting Fellowship. 

Alex Goodell is a aspiring physcian and photographer interested in human dignity. 

Village Health Works

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