We've been looking forward to going to Burundi for months and we are finally here! The main reason for all the excitement was that we got to see and spend time with Michelle Carter (the country director) from CARE. We met her about a year ago in Los Angeles and knew it would be imperative to our project to go to Burundi to see all the great work she and her group are doing there. That's me with Michelle (in blue) and Goretti Nyabenda (wearing a CARE shirt) in the photo. Goretti has a very successful banana beer business thanks the the CARE program and was honored in Washington DC as an "I Am Powerful" award recipient two years ago. Needless to say, we were not disappointed with the time we spent in Burundi. CARE is operating a series of Solidarity Groups throughout Burundi, empowering women to find their voice and take more control over there lives by becoming a contributing financial member of their family. Did you know that it is common for a woman not to speak without her husband's permission in this country? Given that, it is a big, big, step for these women to step forward and join these groups. CARE calls this effort the Village Savings and Loan programs. Women in each community can join but they must use their own money. CARE gives them the tools and guidance and then the women do everything else. They run their meetings, elect a leader and treasurer, keep their own books and decide who among the group will be given a small loan to start local businesses. Women who take loans are required to pay the group back with interest. It has been amazing successful. So successful that there are now more women who want to join then groups available. If you would like to be a part of this success story, you can make contributions through CARE (just let them know you want you money to go to Burundi and the Village Savings and Loan programs).