Volunteer Travel Information
You will need mainly warm weather clothes-- it is around 85-90 most of the time. Do bring one light weight jacket for any trips to the hills. Also bring a swimsuit. Bring enough clothes to get through about a week. We have to iron everything because of mango flies possibly laying eggs on them while they're on the line so there’s a long turn-around time before you get things back.
Bring a pair of shorts for around the house at night, some capri pants, short sleeve shirts or sleeveless shirts. Shirts should not be low enough to show anything they shouldn't :).Tank tops or camis/spaghetti straps are off limits unless they are under something else. Skirts should fall below the knees and be full enough to still cover your knees when you are sitting. Skirts are necessary anytime you are going to be working outside our house, but capri pants or gaucho pants that cover your knees are fine for working around home or going to a restaurant in the evenings or out to the pool. You will need something to cover your head during church-- we can get pretty scarves if you want to buy one here.
Bring a pair of shorts for running or for working around the house. When working in the community, you will need to wear pants. Jeans are fine. Collared shirts and dress pants are not necessary except on Sundays. Make sure t-shirts have acceptable slogans. Sunday shirts may be short-sleeved.
We wear sandals or flipflops most of the time (nicer sandals for church and teaching; otherwise flipflops are fine), but you will want to bring one pair that is good for walking—either some good quality sandals like tevas or chacos or a pair of sneakers in case you get to go up to the hills where it is cooler or go on any hikes. Men also need to bring a pair of Sunday shoes.
If you wear contacts bring enough pairs and enough solution to last. We can get straight razors, but if you want razors with moveable heads or multiple blades, bring them. I would bring a bottle of shampoo as well—you can get it here but it runs 10-12 USD a bottle. We can get soap, but not American brands, so if you have allergies or a special favorite, bring a bar, otherwise no problem. Hmmm… how can I summarize…. If you care about what kind it is, bring it. If it has to do with medical care, bring it. If you don't mind spending a little more money and/or doing with a little less quality, we can probably find it.
Bring your money in cash. Travelers checks are not accepted. Bills must be 2006 or newer. Hundred dollar bills are best. Lower denominations can be changed, but at a much lower rate. Bills must look perfect—crisp, new, not even miniscule tears. There are many foreign exchange bureaus in town where you can change your money.
Bujumbura does have one ATM machine, but plan on trying to use it only in case of emergencies. It has a limit of about 200 USD a day. It may or may not be working, and there is a fee for international withdrawals. Bring your debit card and credit cards for back-up only(you will need to tell your bank you are travelling abroad).
It costs us about 200 dollars a month per person to have people stay with us. It does not include trips to restaurants (usually 10-15 USD a person) or trips out of town (hotels run an average of 40 USD a night, fuel is around 5 USD a gallon). If you could help cover these costs, you would be a much bigger blessing to us and to the work here, but if that is too much for you, please let us know.
In addition to this, you will need money for your visa costs—approximately 90 USD per month. Finally, you will need some money for fun and for any souvenirs you want to take home. I would recommend bringing around 200 dollars per person for this—more if you have a lot of people to buy gifts for. For reference, a 1 pound bag of Burundi coffee is around 8 USD, a nice piece of cloth in the market about the same, a fancy wall hanging or a sword are around 20 dollars each.
You can apply for a visa through the Burundian Embassy in Washington, D.C. before you come (directions can be found on their website—we suggest asking for a multiple entry visa just in case). The following website is all the information about the visas and the application to fill out. You have to send two completed forms. https://burundiembassy-usa.com/index.php/consular-services/visa-services
If your insurance won't cover you over here, you should buy travelers’ insurance with medevac coverage. Basic care (malaria smears, antibiotics, first aid) is available here, but for anything serious we would want to fly you to Nairobi (there is a daily flight). Some places to start looking—first, ask the insurance company you already have. After that, you can try Good Neighbor Insurance, HTH Worldwide, or Raptim Travel.
You should bring along plenty of any prescription and over the counter medicines you might want. It is pretty much hit and miss as far as medicines go here. Bring sunscreen and insect repellant.
Be sure to take a malaria preventative—some good options are doxycycline, mefloquine (larium), and malarone.
You will need to have some injections before coming. Yellow fever is required. Many others-- tetanus, typhoid, meningitis, rabies, and Hepatitis A and B, for example, are recommended. Your local health department will have a travel nurse who can administer all the needed shots (except for yellow fever, which is given only in specialized locations) and issue you a yellow book/international shot record book.
You might want a journal, camera, water bottle. We have plenty of sheets and towels and mosquito nets and a sleeping bag for any film trips, so don't worry about that. We have pillows, but if you have a special one that helps you sleep you might want to bring it.
When you arrive, we can take you to get a SIM card for your phone. Once you have a SIM card you can sign up for different phone plans to connect to the internet.
There are several options for flying into Burundi—Ethiopian airlines, Kenya airways, and SN Brussels. All of these will cost your around 2000 USD. If you are travelling alone or travelling internationally for the first time, we ask that you take Brussels airlines because you do not have an in-Africa lay over. You fly to Brussels, Belgium, and then straight to Bujumbura, Burundi. Also, you arrive at night, which makes it easier to get over jet lag. If you are an experienced traveler and are with at least one other person, feel free to choose whatever is cheapest.
You will be flying into Bujumbura International Airport (BJM), which is about 20 minutes from our house. You'll fly over Lake Tanganyika, the longest and second deepest lake in the world as you land. We'll be there to meet you. We're six hours ahead of EST in the summer, seven hours ahead after you all “fall back” in October.
When you get to Burundi you will disembark outside the terminal and walk in-- everyone is going the same place, so just follow the crowd. Keep out your passport, yellow book, and any entry cards they have asked you to fill out. When you need an address to give for where you are staying please write: Mission Kigobe, 7 Ave. Bukiriro, Q. Muyaga, Comm. Gihosha, Bujumbura, Burundi. Next you will wait for your luggage. Take it through customs (they may open it or ask you to open it). We will be waiting outside the double glass doors you go through after customs, otherwise (if it is a very strict day at the airport) we will be waiting in the parking lot just outside the airport. Due to COVID, the arrival process into the country will likely change from month to month. We will communicate with you closer to the time of your arrival to discuss what the process of arrival will be.
We look forward to having you!