I just returned from Goma (Congo). On behalf of HealthNet TPO I am in the Steering Committee of the “Dutch Consortium for Rehabilitation”. Prior to the trip I was a little bit nervous. There are a lot of tensions in Noth Kivu lately; roaming armed warriors, mutinous soldiers, and people fleeing. Just before the border with Congo I passed a major new refugee camp…
When I was in Goma for the first time in 1980, it was a sleepy town with 50,000 inhabitants on the Northern tip of Lake Kivu. It’s one of the most beautiful lakes I know, with in the background the volcanoes of Rwanda and Congo, where mountain gorillas still occur. Goma now has become a very dynamic city with more than a million inhabitants. I was glad that our Burundian driver Haldi was on the handlebars; traffic rules are interpreted more freely here than in the Netherlands… Moreover, the latest volcanic eruption left major marks on the road.
In order to get from Bujumbura to Goma by road, you have to drive straight through Rwanda. I always have mixes feelings in that country, especially because of the terrible events in the nineties. But also because Rwanda has always been the ‘darling’ of the international donor community, and Burundi the ‘black sheep’. In Rwanda the Hutu majority used to have the power (85% of the population) and in Burundi the Tutsi minority used to have the power (15% of the population). Now it has reversed: Tutsis in power in Rwanda and Hutus in Burundi. But still Rwanda is the darling and Burundi the black sheep…!
Dutch friends of ours had to rush to leave the country in 1994. Almost all of their Rwandan friends and colleagues are gone. Just before Kigali we passed Nyamata (the church where a massacre took place in 1994). Earlier I would have visited the church, now we just drove by.
Good governance seems to be the magic word. Rwanda has a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption. Driving through the country it makes a more prosperous impression than Burundi. President Kagame seems to do well.
Last week we submitted a new project proposal for micro-insurances to the Achmea Foundation. A large number of colleagues of both Achmea and HealthNet TPO worked hard on that and hopefully in my next blog I can bring you a positive result.
More good news: people from Achmea have been trying to get (depreciated) IT stuff for our office in Burundi. Now the equipment is ready for shipment, and it’s going to make us very happy here!
Wim Overbeeke – Country Director Burundi at HealthNet TPO
Background – Wim studied International Relations and Economics (Free University) and before he came to HealthNet TPO he worked at Achmea (large Dutch insurance company), UWV, DGIS (in Burundi), ILO (in Burundi and Benin) and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Currently Wim has been posted by Achmea at our office in Bujumbura to manage the local office, to develop new (insurance) projects, to manage the DCR programme and to represent HealthNet TPO in the DCR steering committee.