By Julie Banks
As a non-medical member of our team, and a person who can get a bit grossed out just hearing the doctors' conversations, I am often searching for ways to connect with what is going on at the hospital. So when International Women's Day began to approach, I jumped into action! This holiday is recognized all over the globe, but I must say it is particularly fun here in Burundi. 

Of course it is a day to recognize the progress that women have made, and to stand up for the rights of women. But it is also a festive day where women are able to leave their housework, their work in the fields or their jobs for a brief moment to gather with special women in their lives. And to enjoy a Fanta!

One of the things that is most anticipated is the Women’s Day FABRIC! Every year there is a fabric created and sold especially for this date. It seems to be designed and sponsored each year by a different branch, or ministry, like the Department of Agriculture for example. As March approaches, women begin to wonder what the fabric will look like, and they begin to make plans for their dress that they will make from this special cloth. Once the fabric is “released,” it is still very much a secret and is passed off to the purchaser discretely in a sack. 

I particularly enjoyed getting caught up in the intrigue, the clothes, and the whole “girly” feel of the preparations and the day itself.  All the women and girls on our team ordered fabric and then gathered together with a seamstress to be measured for our custom skirts. She made about 15 skirts, a matching purse for Alyssa, and surgery cap for Rachel in just a few days. Rush, rush; hush, hush!

Tuesday, March 8th arrived and we all wore our matching skirts and dresses as we went about our day. 

After school and towards the end of the work day, our team brought cookies and treats to the hospital canteen where we treated the female hospital staff to Fantas and fun! 

I absolutely loved seeing every woman’s unique design. Their personality and creativity really shined through. 

We prayed, read some scripture and assured them that God has a plan for each of their lives. He created them uniquely beautiful and talented and has called them "wonderfully made." We thanked them for the work they are doing for the Lord at the hospital and assured them that they are valued daughters of the King. 

After Fantas came picture time outside on the lawn! Giggles flooded the air, selfies were happening, and smiles were non-stop as it turned into a big photoshoot! I was thinking that wearing this fabric together was so much more fun than any t-shirt I have ever worn for an event. 

It honestly felt more like a group of bridesmaids in dresses that were alike, but different. Seriously, some of these girls were really rockin’ their Women’s Day designs! It was fun to feel like a part of their world for a brief moment, when I can often feel so different. Cute clothes and sugary drinks? Umm, yes I can join you in that!

But Kibuye was not the only place where women were celebrating. These types of gatherings were taking place all over the country. Quietly in homes, in restaurants, at churches, or even just on the side of the road. Our Burundian friends told us that it's a day that women love because they just get to be together.

It continues to be fun to see this fabric pop up around Burundi weeks, months or years later. Here is Rachel with her Women's Day cap standing in front of curtains made from 2020's fabric! 

Even some guys couldn't resist the fun and had to jump in on the photoshoot! 

Our worship team also sported Women's Day shirts, ties, and dresses.

Can't wait to see what the fabric looks like next year!