First post of 2014?! Where has the time gone?! Quick recap for y’all:
Got to ring in the new year with old friends back in the Good Life. During those few weeks back home it was awesome to be able to catch up face to face. And of course enjoy delicious American food. We have SO MANY options available!
We had our Mid Service Conference with our stage in Ouaga. Medical tests, talking about our past year and planning for the second half of our service. What a crazy week it was, both personally and professionally! But in the world of Peace Corps, it is difficult to separate the two.
Strikes happened at the high school level. Teachers demanding better salaries, students wanting better use of the fees they pay each year to the APE (Like a PTA in the US, but often prone to corruption).
Dedougou Mask Festival! I posted pictures of this annual event on Facebook a while back. Many ethnic groups have their own masks that they bring out only for special occasions, but at the festival you get to see several from around the continent (Mali, Togo, Benin…). The masks may be used as a way to bring about a better harvest for a village or as a way to increase fertility. And as you will see from the pictures, these masks are not just for the face, but cover the whole body. How they danced and did acrobatics in those things takes some skill!
Began working on a grant for much needed wells in one of our satellite villages. Unfortunately our USAID Water and Sanitation Fund ran out. (I guess it’s not that unfortunate though since that means there are lots of great projects happening right now in volunteer communities across Burkina!) This means that I will be turning to you all back home to help out our village! More to come on this later as the grant is still being reviewed before it can be opened for donations.
Continued house visits with community health workers in the villages serviced by our clinic. This is our way of following up on the mosquito net distribution that happened last August. This activity has taken a little bit longer than expected! Results to come in month seven!
G26 COS Party. COS=Close of Service. This happens about three months before volunteers finish their service as we do not all leave the country at the same time. G26 is the group that came in right before us, in June 2012. The party was comi-con themed. People went all out on their costumes! Smash Brothers characters, Dragon Ball Z, Frozen…such a good time!
Chad came to visit! We were volunteers in Mali together, but he transferred to Botswana and is now an RPCV. Congratulations again Chad! He had seen all there was to see of stereotypical Africa (safaris, Victoria Falls, etc.), but just couldn’t stay away from West Africa. We nice people here! J Thanks again for coming all the way to Burkina Faso to visit! And jealous you got to go to visit Mali! Someday soon I hope…
One of my good friends was medically evacuated, meaning that Peace Corps thought it best for her to return home before her COS to heal up. But she is now an RPCV. Congratulations lady! I know we will see each other again one day. Keep your schedule open beginning of December for a visit J
Handwashing Station Project. This was a PC Burkina wide project put together by one of our third year volunteers who works with USAID WA-WASH. See pictures on Facebook (sorry Burkina internet is a bit slow to upload directly on the blog!)In setting up these stations, the goal was to provide an easy way to wash hands and to promote hygiene in general. Our hope was also to encourage villagers to set similar stations up in their homes that could be made cheaply from wood or other available items. I set ours up at the elementary school. We also did lessons with the kids on the importance of handwashing, diarrhea and Oral Rehydration Salts. The kids loved using the station and I hope they continue to use it!
Niangoloko goes loko! (Or was this in March? The days blend together…) Students were fed up with no answer on what happened to APE funds. Made a list of demands: fans in all classrooms, lighting, better computers, wifi. When the demands were not met they went on strike. Then others took it to the next level, vandalizing the house of the APE president and lighting fire to the bar he owned. A representative from the department of education came to talk with the students and their parents. Somehow the money magically appeared and the students got everything they had requested. Though I do not agree with the destruction of property, I am glad to see the funds are now being put to good use!
Mini malaria bike tour. PCVs and one ex-pat from our region biked around the Banfora area doing malaria activities in a couple volunteer villages. I love collaborating on activities, making it more enjoyable. Lucky to have such great neighbors!
Lots of time in Ouaga for meetings. Regional Malaria Coordinator Training. The RMC program was set up to help provide resources for PCVs across Burkina to work to reduce the number of cases of malaria. The hope is also to create a data base of PCV projects so other volunteers have activities available to them ready to go.
Also had our Youth Development Committee meeting. Lots of preparation going on for summer camps across the country, even right here in Niangoloko! And we will be holding our dance marathon in October.
We also said goodbye to a few volunteers from G26 who finished their service. Congrats to you all as well! Again, cannot believe how time flies, even when the days seem to go by slow at times.
HOT SEASON. Seemed to linger this year. Lots of time sleeping outside on the ground in my bug hut and still sweating. But no heat rash this time! Haha Oh the simple things in life.
Doing more to work on malnutrition in our village and surrounding villages. Community health workers were trained again on how to measure upper arm circumference of children 6 months to 5 years as a way for screening for malnutrition and how to make referrals to the clinic. Already have done a couple ameliorated porridge demonstrations to show mothers how to make nutritious food for their kids with local ingredients.
Prepping for Camp G2LOW, which starts June 27th. We will have around 70 middle schoolers (8 coming from my village) for this educational and fun summer camp. Update on this to come next month!
Rainy season has begun! Villagers are heading out to the fields to start planting. And things are cooling down. It also gives me an excuse to stay inside with some coffee and a good book. Just finished The Fault In Our Stars, which I would recommend! Now reading Friday Night Lights in preparation for this upcoming football season. Nebraska is mentioned a few times in the book, back in the glory days. Go Huskers!
World Cup starts tomorrow! Bought a US flag tank the other week in Bobo so I am ready. USA! USA! USA!
Weird/sad/great news: Sunday night the guard of our clinic found a newborn in an old well in our village. Somehow she had barely a scratch on her and is now being taken care of by an old woman at our clinic until they can find a home for her. They caught the mom Monday and she was taken into questioning by our head nurse and the police. Supposedly she is from Côte d’Ivoire, but had fled from there and had been living in our village for about five months now. For some time now, people would tell her she was pregnant, but she was in denial. She claimed it was just because she had drunk too much dolo (local sorghum beer). I cannot imagine what was going through her head when she thought she needed to kill her newborn baby girl. Though it was a horrible act, we do not know her situation and I hope she gets some help and support. She is still going through medical treatment in our maternity, but later will go to prison. People keep stopping by the maternity to see the baby girl. One of our nurses joked that we should start charging admission. It really is a miracle she is doing alright. Praying she gets the loving family she deserves.