The road to Village Health Works begins in Bujumbura and follows the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika for 100 km to the village of Kigutu.
Rumonge, a trading town with an historic Arab population, is the last stop on the road to campus and the source of the kitenge that VHW's sewing cooperative fashions into clothing and accessories.
Malnutrition and poor maternal care are the leading causes of death in Burundi. Patients travel miles to the clinic, impeccably dressed with their children on their backs, for its renown service.
VHW provides facilities for a public secondary school, L'Ecole Fondamentale, and for its own private pre-school. The EcoFo has been rebuilt recently as a modern facility.
Many children walk miles in plastic flipflops to attend the pre-school and arrive hungry and listless. Each morning they are greeted by the campus band for an hour of song and dance.
Land for the campus was donated by local farmers and is meticulously maintained as an oasis of gardens and avenues to bring a measure of beauty and peace into the hard lives of its patients.
Drumming is a royal art in Burundi, and the drummers of Kigutu are among the most respected in the country. When VHW health workers travel off-campus, they bring the band.
The local community provided the labor required to build a 1/2 km elevated raceway through the forest and, by hand, to haul a 1 ton generator into place over log rollers and foot paths.
To supplement the area's reliance on subsistence farming and cassava as the main diet, VHW sponsors several business cooperatives that bring both cash and nutrition to the community.