Think | Eat | Save | A Series of Portraits for Change | Burundi

In honor of World Environment Day this week, Aude, UN Volunteer (UNV Communication Officer for United Nations Development Program/UNDP) uses her love of photography to show the face of change in Burundi.

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My name is Aude. I am 35 and I am from Belgium. I’ve worked in development cooperation for 12 years.  Passionate about photography, the medium allows me to express my thoughts on development, the planet and humanity. I’ve worked in Burundi since 2012 as the Communications Officer for UNDP.  My mission?  To make UN agency actions with people and cooperation partners visible and concrete. I am personally convinced that it’s essential to put people at the center of development aid to humanize issues and help find solutions for a better understanding and identification of the citizens.

UNDP has several projects of environmental protection involving the government and local people. Biodiversity is a real danger here, population pressure and extreme poverty threatens the nature of this small territory of 28,000 square kilometers. As part of International Environment Day (Wednesday, June 5th), I wanted to discover through portraits various initiatives by citizens, local authorities and UNDP to protect nature and improve the lives of people. I went into several rural areas of Burundi and I took 23 photo portraits of people from all walks of life.  I asked them to take the photo with something that, for them, symbolizes the protection of the environment.

I made the choice to isolate them on a white background to highlight the individual commitment and the person in all of his or her uniqueness. Each portrait is accompanied by an interview where people express their commitment. It surprised me sometimes…the choice of their “symbolic object.” There was a teacher, Schadrack, who chose to be photographed with a calf in his arms: the cow has an important role in Burundi and the local culture. It is almost a sacred animal. The best compliment for a woman you want to marry is to say she has “cow eyes” … This young teacher selected the cow for his association which protects the natural reserve of the Murehe incursion of livestock, which causes the loss of biodiversity in the protected area.

8844268618_3cb77cf37b_zAnother anecdote: in a waterfront community park in Ruvubu, I interviewed a former poacher who through training of the protection of biodiversity decided, with others, to abandon the chase.  As a sign of their commitment they decided to take advantage of my visit to the village to … give me all their shotguns! I even had the theatrical reproduction of hunting and the death of the buffalo … memorable!  I took portraits of the former poachers with their traps and nets.

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Photographs were taken by Aude Rossignol with a Nikon and treated with Instagram.  A special thanks to Sebastien Taylor for presenting us to Aude.