July 26, 2012

Village Health Works

Rachael Chase describes her upcoming trip to Burundi.

Last August, my brother David became the executive director of an amazing organization called Village Health Works, which is based between NYC and Kigutu, Burundi, Africa.

Burundi's Location

VHW’s mission is “to provide quality, compassionate health care in a dignified environment while treating the social determinants of illness, disease, violence and neglect in collaboration with those we serve.”  VHW was co-founded by Deo Niyizonkiza and Dziwe Ntaba, both of whom are doctors and have extraordinary connections to Africa and to Kigutu.  As the medical program in Burundi has grown, the need for a house for donors and visiting doctors to stay in while serving at the health clinic has grown.

For the last six months, I have been working with David and Deo to develop ideas for what this house could be.  This week, I have been given the amazing opportunity to go to Burundi to see the site and experience the culture, the people, and the VHW program.  This experience will shape the design of the house in every way – from the siting of the building, the connection and path to and from the health center, the slope of the land, the light and views, surrounding trees, materials, means of construction, how it will be used, and what the house will mean to so many different people.

Burundian Landscape

I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to engage, to contribute, and to have this experience and adventure.  I will be sharing my process through photographs, sketches, drawings, and writing as the house emerges and evolves.