Well, we’ve been in Burundi for 7 months now, so I figured it was about time I got around to answering some questions that I’ve received in e-mails. A teacher once told me that if one person asks a question 5 others are wondering the same thing, so I decided to answer privately asked questions on this public blog.
Why do you have guards?
I think the simplest answers and the one I assume is true is that we have guards because there have always been guards. The house we’re living in has been in use since the 80’s by different missionaries and as a guest house and I get the impression that our guards have been here for a very long time. The house is actually the property of the hospital and the guards are hospital employees.
Do you feel you need guards?
To this question I would have answered “No” when we first arrived but over time I have really come to appreciate the fact that we have guards. So although “need” may be too strong of a word I do like having guards. Here’s why:
1) We obviously have more things than the average Burundian. Our house is open during the day as the house helper works and we come and go. We do lock up our passports and valuables in a locked wardrobe, but it is nice to know someone is watching our house and our stuff, so even the things left outside, like umbrellas or soccer balls, don’t disappear.
2) Our kids run free outside, there are three different groupings of houses and 3 different guards. It’s nice to know that there are other eyes loosely watching out for our kids and making sure no one is lurking about who shouldn’t be on the property.
3) It’s very dark here at night. When I’m walking alone back to our house in the dark it is nice to have light from the guards fire and know that there are eyes watching out for me.
4) When there are loud sounds in the night (usually avocados falling from hight trees onto tin roofs) it is nice to know someone is outside and aware.
5) When our kids shed their shoes or leave toys around the yard their stuff ends up neatly placed back by our kitchen door.
6) When I put a solar charging devise outside and then am away from the house when the rain rolls in, the guards move my devises safely under cover.
7) When I would forget to put the rooster in the box at night they chased him down and put him in so he wouldn’t wake us all up early in the morning.
8) Our day guard washes our laundry. He does an amazing job getting clothes stained orange (from the red earth here) back to their original colors.
How do “you” do laundry?
Since I already mentioned it above I’ll answer this question now too.
In the mornings I put some clothes in a bucket and a little container of detergent outside our kitchen door. Our day guard then fills a big tub of water from the spigot and washes our clothes by hand. He then hangs them up to dry and at the end of the day, if it hasn’t rained, he folds the clothes, places them back in the bucket and puts the bucket of clean clothes in our kitchen. Sometimes the clothes are still damp and end up hung around our house to finish drying. During rainy weeks our laundry stays on the line for a few days trying to dry. If the laundry stays on the line for too long not only does it smell musty but moths can lay eggs in the material and then when you wear the clothing a grub will burrow under your skin. This has only happened to a member of our family once. (I’ll admit it was me, I pulled a grub out of my hip with a pair of tweezers.) But, I feel it’s a small price to pay for having someone else fold all my laundry, a job that I feel I’m constantly doing back in the states.
Our guard watching our kids play with fire. Roasting corn over the guards fire has become a favorite activity.