Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Burundi 1

I'm out of the UK at the moment working in Burundi. The country has a long history of inter-ethnic violence (it shares many of the same tensions as Rwanda) but is emerging as a democracy and has a series of elections (local, parliamentary and presidential) scheduled for later this year.

The Liberal Democrats, as all the main UK parties, have a number of sister parties around the world. In Burundi, we work with the ADR - a relatively new party headed by the hugely charismatic Alice Nzomukunda.

Our work here is to run a training for trainers course - that is, we are training leading party activists to become trainers themselves. It's a key part of any party's work to be able to spread their message effectively. To do this they rely on a network of volunteers who knock on doors, write literature and so on. Starting from scratch, it can be difficult to make sure that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet and that is where having good trainers comes in. Hopefully, we will be helping the party to have better trainers.

Our four days of work involve a day of training the basics including lots of theory and exercises, followed by two days of practicals and, finally, the real thing as the trainers we have been working with for the first three days present to an audience of over 100 party activists. Each day is about 10 hours as we are trying to cram a lot into a relatively short space of time. Regrettably, that means that we are very limited as to the amount of sight-seeing we can do in this beautiful country on the edge of Lake Tanganyika (all we really get to see is the airport, hotel and training venue).

The training team here includes three Brits - myself, Candy and Aidan - and Fulgere, a member of the opposition Seychelles National Party. Fulgere was a trainee on an earlier training for trainers course and is a natural at it. (It also helps massively that he speaks fluent french and so doesn't need the translators).

I'll post a longer and more detailed blog later.

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