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The 'Offering Economy' Of Burundi, Where Family Rites Are Financial Burdens

In Burundi, birthdays, baptisms and burial ceremonies tend to be marked with big family gatherings. Guests are expected to help out by offering, for example, a case of beer. For families with modest incomes, the price of so much partying is often untenabl

The road between Bujumbura and Gitega in Burundi (Dave Proffer)
The road between Bujumbura and Gitega in Burundi (Dave Proffer)
Gabby Bugaga and Stany Ngendakumana

BUJUMBURA – Family festivities are a central feature of life in Burundi. But they're also financially taxing, as families are expected to contribute to each and every gathering – even when they simply can't afford it.

"I have a list of more than 150 people who contributed at my mother's burial. And so I have to spend money every time I receive one of their invitations," says a determined yet discouraged civil servant in the Gihosha district of Bujumbura, the capital of the central African nation. This family head earns less than $200 per month. More than 30% of that money goes to funding family festivities. The man makes those contributions reluctantly, but with one single conviction: that they are central to the traditional culture of encounters and solidarity in Burundi.

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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