Sunday, November 13, 2011

octobre

I came back from vacation ready to start the new school year off and really get a lot done in my last year here. I've definitely made progress but have encountered a few bumps in the road along the way.

One of the projects that I've started in Navielgane is a concept that one of our staff members brought from her service as a volunteer in Benin called a 'Care Group.' The concept is that the volunteer (me) gets a group of ten or so members of the community meeting to participate in monthly meetings. During each meeting the group discusses some topic, (malaria, education, nutrition etc.) and then the group goes out to their neighborhoods to share the same information with no less than ten families in the community. The idea is that by holding one meeting a month, the volunteer has the ability empower the group members to touch one hundred families with information relevant to their lives and well being.

In August, before I headed off to vacation, I worked with my counterpart to start this concept in my village. Luckily my community selected counterpart is a member of our village council, so once I wrote a letter explaining the idea, he was able to present it to the rest of the council and they found ten people who were willing to participate. Although the first meeting was a littler rough (not everyone showed up and it didn't seem like everyone completely understood), the second two were more successful. I gave the group a list of questions and the assignment to find the 10 families that they would be responsible. At the next meeting, I was able to look through their notebooks and see that they all found families and asked the appropriate questions, things like “what illnesses does your family catch?” “what do you do if your family members are sick?” and “how many mosquito nets does your household have?” I was able to tell them all of the services that the clinic/ CSPS (Centre de Sante et Promotion Sociale) has to offer. Luckily Hayley works there, and I help out once a week so I know the nurses and all the staff.

Of course I jinxed myself by telling people how easily this was all coming together. The last meeting I had was a talk on malaria. Fortunately, I've given this talk several times, so I knew the information wouldn't be difficult to get across. Unfortunately, only three people decided to make an appearance and what turned out to be the last rainstorm of the season decided to roll through. I ended up having to give the talk (or sensibilization as we call them) three different times. All volunteers know that not everything works out the first time. In fact, no project works out quite the way we intend. Now I am faced with a few questions about the members of my group, including my original counterpart. This group has the potential to be a really great way to spread relevant information to my community Hopefully I'll be able to get some more support from my counterpart and make it all work.

On a happier more productive note, my girls team is up an running again. Hayley and I have had a few practices in the past couple of weeks and its starting to look like we might have a pretty legitimate team this year. We're in talks with some people in the area to organize a region-wide soccer tournament this year for international women's day, and I really hope it all pans out. I've had to bee away from village more than I'd like lately, but luckily Hayley is the real expert so I can trust her with the team in my absence. More on that and my trip to Senegal next time!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So today I took a bus into Ouaga for a two-day meeting. Normally this is a fairly smooth trip- about 5 hours on a paved highway. I can get on the bus by standing on the road in the middle of my village and get off in the same neighborhood as our Peace Corps house in Ouaga. Today, about an hour or so into the ride, the bus stopped to let on a gendarme (beefed up police officer who wears a beret). I was sitting in the row behind the side door through which he entered, and noticed there was someone with him. The man started to sit down in the row across from me next to a woman with a baby when the gendarme directed him to the seat behind me. As he passed I noticed the man was wearing handcuffs and was apparently being escorted to another town with the police officer. There are motorcycles and cars for the gendarmerie here, but I guess sometimes convicts get to ride public transportation too.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

There and back again...

I’ve just gotten back to site after a month away and one thing is certain – I will never leave for that long again. At the end of August all of the education volunteers headed to our mid-service conference (MSC) which meant we were officially through with one ear of our Peace Corps service. The conference was more of a check up than a training – we discussed our projects at site and went through a series of medical exams.
The last day of our conference I had a flight home for a two and a half week vacation. It was the perfect amount of time to see family, go to a cousin’s wedding, visit friends, and eat all the food I’ve been missing over the last 14 months.
Getting back to Burkina felt the same as landing in the U.S. – like no time had passed at all. I was thrown right back to work setting up for a big fair to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps. Along with the searing of 47 new volunteers, September 22nd kicked off a 3 day long fair in downtown Ouaga. Volunteers showcased their work at site with various partner organizations, theater troupes and women’s groups The first day also signified the end of 1800 kilometers of the 2nd annual bike tour. The fair was an exhausting few days of early mornings, but looking back we pulled off a pretty incredible event. We were lucky enough to have the Prime Minister and the first lady at our opening and closing ceremonies., as well as a personalized song written by one of Burkina’s top singers. Here are the links to some videos put together by some members of our fair committee, the volunteer action committee, and our IT committee.
The good thing about the fair was that it gave me something to keep busy doing immediately after getting back. The downside was that I didn’t get back to my village until after a full week of being back in country. I returned exhausted, but luckily Navielgane is one of the best places to re-cooperate after the busy summer of traveling that I’ve had. Since getting back, I’ve had a couple of meetings with a group that I started and am in talks with another organization about bringing electricity (read: car batteries hooked to a solar panel) to a building in my village.
In some ways the time away was what I needed to re-motivate myself to get going on projects in my community that I’ve thought about since arriving. As all of the new volunteers headed off to their villages this week, I almost felt as if I was one of them – going back to village with new eyes so to speak. On the other hand, (no offense to them) I’m so glad I’m not in that position. Heading into meetings and going to the market by myself this week, I realized how far I’ve come in a year. With my confidence in my language skills alone, I never would have been able to do some of things a year ago that are daily interactions now. Hopefully this little burst of motivation carries through as the new school year starts next week and throughout the next 10 months or so that I have left here!
As always, thanks to everyone who is still keeping up with my blog!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Burkina Bike Tour take 2

Dear Family and Friends of Peace Corps Burkina Faso,

Beginning August 31, 2011, Peace Corps volunteers from around Burkina Faso will be participating in Le Tour de Burkina, the second annual country-wide bike tour to raise money for Gender and Development projects in Burkina.

Gender and Development projects encompass a huge variety of volunteer projects, be they organizing a girls’ camp to promote self-esteem and goal setting or helping a women's group conduct an income generating activity. These are of critical importance in Burkina Faso and represent a significant component of each volunteer’s work. The Gender and Development
(GAD) Committee exists to support volunteer-initiated, gender equity projects around Burkina Faso; with Le Tour de Burkina we hope to generate funds so the GAD Committee can give small-scale project grants and volunteers can continue the essential work of promoting gender awareness and equality in Burkina Faso. We’re proud to say that last year’s tour raised nearly $5,000 – enough to fund 35 GAD grants.

Please help us reach this year’s fundraising goal of $6,000 by visiting our blog and making a donation:

To be certain your donation reaches Gender and Development projects, be sure to specify “GAD Gender and Development” in the Comments section.

In Burkina Faso, one dollar goes a long way, so even the smallest contribution will make a big difference. Follow the blog to learn more about the tour, which projects were funded last year, and to stay updated while we’re on the road.

This year we will be riding for 23 days, covering 1,700 kilometers (that’s the distance from New York City to Orlando), and passing by 32 volunteer sites. In addition to kicking off celebrations of Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary, the tour will increase awareness of Peace Corps Burkina Faso’s activities and reinforce the relationships within volunteers’
communities.

Thanks for your support!

Sincerely,

http://burkinabiketour.blogspot.com

Peace Corps Burkina Faso
Gender and Development Committee

June and July

I have no excuse for my lack of posts other than sheer laziness, but I'll attempt a brief rundown of the events of the last 2 months.

Ghana:
The vacation was much much needed as I approached the 1 year mark in country. Kristin, a fellow GEE volunteer and I headed down to the beach for 8 days. After dealing with the most heinous woman in all of West Africa at the Ghanain embassy, we made the 16 hour bus ride, another 5 hour bus ride, and a 1 hour taxi ride to a quiet eco-lodge on the beach. The food was great and the owners were super accomidating – especially after our lack of budgeting skills that left us a little short of the bill (whoops). Despite it being rainy season, we managed to make up for the lack of sun our thighs had seen in the past year.
The next stop was a more touristy beach town – Busua, where we did more tanning, lounging, and eating. I’m told this was one of the stops in Endless Summer, but have yet to confirm it. It was here that I had my first experience with both lobster and swordfish. I personally think that lobster tastes like a big shrimp but A: It’s not the season and B. I, the former vegan, can’t claim to be a seafood connoseur.
Our final stop was Cape Coast, antoher beach town where we stayed only one night. It was here that we had our only encounter with another American the entire trip. Thanks to a broken door handle, a college student drunkenly stumbled into our room in the middle of the night thinking it was his own. I personally thought we were going to be murdered (being completely blind without contacts and it being the middle of the night), meanwhile, Kristin was laughing at the situation. Although the normal reaction to someone screaming bloody murder would be to turn and leave, our new friend responded with “Chill outttt” and proceeded to ask if he could just look and make sure his stuff was not indeed in the room. This all happened at about 3 in the morning and luckily we had to catch a 4AM bus – quite the wake up call. It took a little while before my heart rate returned to a normal pace and I could laugh at the absurdity of it all: me standing on our bed tangled in a mosquito net screaming at the top of my lungs while some drunk college kid, who probably didn’t remember any of it the next morning, stood in the doorway with Kristin finding it funny.

T.O.T.
When we got back to Burkina it was straight into Training of Trainers – where we learned all the things to (and not to) say/do to the new trainees who arrived on June 12th. The training lasted a week was really more for the new Peace Corps staff who teach languages than for the volunteer trainers. It was, however one of those points where I realized how long I’ve been here, and while I wouldn’t say it’s flown, I don’t know that I ever actually pictured myself at the point of training new volunteers at the 1 year mark.

TEFL:
After a few brief days in village during which I cleaned my house and played with my puppy, I went back to Ouaga for a Teaching English as a Foreign Language week-long training. Although I’m not a teacher, I held a club with middle schoolers last year and amd hoping to be able to help our more next year. The formation was…interesting. The man in charge, who was Burkinab√® and therefore not a native English speaker, showed lots of 80s movies and had us practicing activities with eachother. It wasn’t entirely futile – I did learn somethings about lesson planning and it was entertaining (however politically incorrect) to watch my friends role play as if they didn’t know how to speak English.

4th of July:
I spent my second 4th of July in Burkina lounging by a hotel pool in Bobo Dioulaso. It was a dady made especially patriotic by the red and blue pagne overalls that Hayley and I had our tailor make us. We didn’t grill hot dogs or set off fire works, but we listened to just about every song mentioning the homeland on about 10 different people’s Ipods.

Village:
After the whirlwind traveling and trainings of the past 2 months, the pace of life back in village seems incredibly slow. School is officially over (even though students and teachers alike stopped coming weeks ago). The rains have started which is bad for my deteriorating house but good for planging, so everyone is out in their fields. Many villagers have small houses out in their fields which can be over 20 kilometers away, so often times they sleep our there. Teachers don’t make the trip in from Diebougou anmore since their houses and families are there. Needless to say it’s quiet around Navielgane. I’ve been using my time to plan for the next school year and certainly catch up on my reading.

A friend of mine pointed out a while ago that while my blog is titled 101 Things to Do with Mud, I haven’t listed any, so I’ll end this already-too-long-post with a few examples:
Bricks: Villagers make mud bricks for the construction of houses, walls, latrines, etc. Unless they’re cemented over in some form or fashion, this doesn’t always stand the tests of rain and time – hence the fact that last rainy season a sizeable portion of my courtyard wall had a little accident.
Cleaning: Sounds counterproductive doesn’t it? Many women use mud to clean pots which sounds crazy – unless you don’t have sponges, in which case the dirt serves as the abrasive surface that removes burned rice residue off of pots.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

I’m back from a long hiatus from posting. If any of you happen to follow the news on Burkina (which I didn't until I lived here), the political situation has been a little tense these days. The basics are this (and I’m going to try and keep this as politically correct as possible): In February a student died while in police custody and students rioted (school strikes, burning buildings etc.) in response to what they believed to be corruption and unnecessary police brutality. School was basically cancelled nationwide off and on for the next month to prevent further incidents. Then unrelated events concerning military officers opposing the sanctioning of fellow officers (on at least two separate occasions) led to military unrest. In addition; an annual scheduled protest of the high cost of living went a little further that usual. Stores were looted throughout the capital. On top of all of this, other military protesting involved officers firing their weapons in the air led to a few casualties by fallen bullets: All of this you can find online at various news sources if you look hard enough.

The president reacted to all of this by completely dissolving his cabinet; re-electing a new prime minister and meeting with the heads of military, police, etc to discuss reforms. He appointed new members to his cabinet, eliminating some superfluous positions along the way. After all of this further protests by worker unions prompted to promise lowering the income tax among other things. I have never enjoyed politics, nor was I really one to follow the news at home, I know I’m leaving out events, but this has basically been the situation as I’ve seen it. Through each of these events we’ve been updated via texts and phone calls. As of now however, everything has calmed down and we’re all back to business as usual…

The most frustrating thing about this situation has not been safety. There has never been a moment when I’ve felt unsafe – maybe unsettled but never unsafe. I live in a village of about 2,000 people – few of whom have ever been further than the 15 K away that it takes to get into the nearest town. Clearly these aren’t revolutionaries making demands of the president – they hardly know why school was cancelled for so long (and I mean that, not to insult their intelligence in any way, but merely to state the facts).

What is difficult about the situation is the mindset that it has put some of the volunteers in. Of course no one is to blame but the nature of the situation is that it changes daily. Unfortunately this has meant interruptions to any work that people might be doing. It has been difficulty to start projects when we don’t know if we are going to get to see them through. Various conferences and meeting were cancelled or rescheduled multiple times – making it difficult to try and plan for the upcoming months and weeks. It is unfortunate that our training group’s service has been so exceptional starting in July with our unexpected move, but I think we all knew coming in that it wouldn’t be the easiest two years of our lives. Luckily; everything has calmed down for the most part for a little over a week now and everyone is starting to get back into somewhat of a normal routine.

On the work front I recently started making liquid soap with several women to sell in our village market. The first group was the AME (PTA for moms) at my primary school. They were eager to do it again, and I have since had success with three other groups who have sold the soap for about 50 cents a bottle in our market. I’m excited that this has been such a success because not only does it encourage good hygiene habits among my villagers, but the women are able to take in a profit upwards of 4,000 CFA (roughly 8 dollars) with each 16 litre batch they produce. That might not sound like a lot, but for a woman with no previous income, it surely makes a difference. This group has been a good resource for me as a link into the community. They have expressed interest in learning how to do other income generating activities that I can teach as well as an eagerness to hold formations in family planning among other things. I’m hoping that the next school year will bring lots of success with them.



Another thing that we’ve finally gotten off the ground is our girl’s soccer team. Hayley is the real expert on the sport, but I’ve been able to run a few drills in the instances that she has had to travel on practice days. Although we’re running out of time before the end of the school year, it has been rewarding to see how excited the girls are to be playing. They seem to have a blast running round; and are surprisingly tough – playing barefoot and frequently taking spills onto the hard dirt field. I think we will have a pretty legitimate team next year.

Since I last posted I also found out that I’m going to be training the new group of trainees that comes in June. It’s hard to believe that in two months I will be at the one year in country mark. That being said it’s about time for a vacation. A trip to Ghana is in the works and I’ll be sure to let you all know if that becomes a reality.

Oh, and I got a puppy! He still needs a name but the white one with the collar is Hayley's and her name is peanut.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

8 Mars

Although it was started in the US, International Women's day was something I hardly knew existed, let alone celebrated until I arrived here. On March 8th, there was a regional celebration for the holiday in a neighboring village of Tiankora. My neighbor Hayley and I met another volunteer who did her service there (and is now doing a thrid year in another town) at her old host family's house. We eventually made our way to where the parade was being held and because Jen Used to live there (and sadly because we're white) we got front row seats for the whole event. After a series of admittedly boring speeches (by mostly men) in both French and the village's local languange of LObiri, there was traditional lobi dancing and a prade featuring a collection of women's groups from the surrounding area, and one seemingly random group of men. Afterward there was a reception and whil we had been invited (via Hayley's host family) to eat lunch at the mayor's house, we ended up going back to Jen's family's to eat with them. The daay was rounded off by a soccer game between Tiankora and a friend's village. The teams were both all male, and we didn't stick around to see who won. At the end of the day, I came to the conclusion that this was just another holiday for men during which the women do all he cooking and the men have all the fun (so much so that Hayley dubbed it 8 Mens). Of course I may be a little biased being both a female and a girls empowerment volunteer, but my suspicions were confirmed several weeks later, when sporting my women's day fabric, a male teacher asked what I did for "les hommes" that day to celebrate the holiday. Confusing and completely backwards I know. In talking with some female teachers from my primary school, we deciede we are going to plan a celebration next year that truly honors the women of my village, and not just by 'letting' them cook huge feast for their husbands.

On another completely unrelated not, some of you may have seen Burkina in the news lately (ok only if you're looking really hard). While I'm not really supposed to discuss the politics of the situation. I wanted to let everyone know that my little corner of the country has remained fairly calm. I feel 100% safe and the peace corps has been fairly up front with us concerning the current 'unrest' around the country. As of the posting of this entry, things are calm countrywide. And that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sophomore Status

I can’t believe three weeks have already passed since IST. Although I haven’t gotten into a steady “work routine,” short meetings and day trips to Diebougou have made the time go by. What have I been up to: Trips to the C.E.G. (middle school), starting an English club/tutoring sessions, discussing a girls soccer team, baby vaccinations with Hayley at the CSPS staff, a meeting with the AME (PTA for moms), working on a compost pit in my courtyard (for an eventual garden), continuing Dagara lessons, rearranging my kitchen (it’s the little things), and teaching some kids the art of Frisbee throwing (courtesy of Dad). Of course I came back from IST raring to start a bunch of projects, but a combination of miscommunications, holidays (happy belated Muhammad), and time constraints, of course everything hasn’t exactly panned out as imagined. But at least I have some directions of where I’m headed.

This week I’m in Bobo for a few days. Partly because every four months we are required to submit a detailed report of everything we do, including number of participants, their ages etc. and how it relates to the overall goals of the Peace Corps as well as the specific goals of our sectors. Another reason is because the president of the Friends of Burkina Faso is in country, making his way around to meet as many current volunteers as are interested. FBF is an organization of returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVS – we love acronyms) who contribute to and produce a newsletter about the goings on of the Peace Corps in Burkina. Additionally, they serve as a funding organization for current volunteer projects etc. The current president was a well digger during his service in the seventies. It has been interesting to hear how much things have changed since his time here.

Over the past three weeks I’ve learned a few things about my village that I wasn’t previously aware of. First that there are actually closer to 2,000 people here instead of the 6,000 my homologue mentioned/ Second, that the ‘road’ I run on a few mornings a week actually passes through 2 different villages that the whole time I actually thought were Navielgane (after all it’s not like there is a “welcome to Danko Tanzu” sign in the middle of the bush). Third, the majority of my village is on the other side of the highway (no wonder I was so confused about where these thousands of people life). Fourth, apparently I’m only 60K from the border of Ghana (…). And last, a bit of cultural information: if you are at a party and get in a fist fight with someone and they get hurt you have to give a goat to the Chef du Terre to sacrifice. (This last bit of info I found out because apparently 2 women were at a ‘traditional’ party where people are basically inducted to be able to perform certain rituals, and they got into a boxing match, one of them injuring the other, therefore is now required to give up a goat – all of this I heard 3rd hand).

Speaking of parties, international women’s day is coming up – March 8. As a Girls Empowerment Volunteer, I feel the need to make a shout out. I’ll be spending it in a village about 7k from me where the regional celebration for this year is going to be. I’m told it will involve a parade, speeches, dancing, and of course, matching pagne outfits. I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures to document the fashion I’m sporting these days.

That’s about all the news for now. It’s getting hot here and while apparently March and April are the worst, we’ve already had several days over 100. If someone could invent a solar powered air conditioner and send it to me, that would be great! Until next time…

Sunday, January 30, 2011

And so it begins

So I’ve been in ‘civilization’ now for about 2 weeks participating in IST (In Service Training) and really have no excuse for not posting an update. We have been pretty busy, but if I’m being honest I’ve really just been using my internet access for Facebook. I’ll try to use this opportunity give a rundown of the past couple weeks here.

On the 16th Austin and I caught the bus to Ouaga around 7:30 from the neighboring village of Tiankoura. Unfortunately, we were so eager to hop on the first bus that passed that we didn’t realize we had no clue where the bus station in Ouaga was going to be. Luckily, after the 5 hour ride, we figured out that we had been dropped off downtown, not too far from the volunteer house. I spent one night in Ouaga, saying goodbye to a few volunteers who had just finished their service and were headed to Morocco for their COS vacation. The next day I was headed to Koudagou, the site of our original training, back to our old stomping grounds. Austin and the other Health and SED volunteers stayed behind in Ouaga to have their first week of training, while all of the GEE volunteers from our group were in Koudagou. We spent the first week going over our experiences from our “etude” period, as well as learning a few new technical skills to apply at our sites. Some of the new information we learned was about secondary activities, including soap making, gardening, tutoring, income generating activities, and building community libraries to name a few. Other sessions retained a GEE focus, and we talked more about girls clubs, camps, and received information about how to teach sex ed./ reproductive health etc. Getting back into the grind of 8-5 sessions was a little rough, but it felt fulfilling to have such full days.

At the end of the week, we swapped places with the health and SED sectors in Ouaga. Sunday night our chosen counterparts arrived in Ouaga for a three day formation on Project Design and Management. The workshop was really informative, and although a little tedious at points, I felt like it was really worthwhile to have my primary school director there. The Peace Corps country director here gave a speech about the Peace Corps philosophy of development, how we go about starting projects in our communities, our job descriptions etc. Since we were able to choose our counterparts who we are planning to work with, it was important for them to hear these things directly from the mouth of our director. I’m hoping that this way, my school director will be able to take what he learned and relay the information to the other teachers at the school, and more importantly the rest of our community. The most useful part of the session was being able to take the outline of a theoretical project and apply it to something that we felt is a need in our community. My director and I decided to focus on the process of installing a water pump on school grounds. We felt that if we could get one installed, several other secondary projects could stem from it, including nutrition and hygiene. It was really exciting to finally start the ball rolling with this project and I will be pumped if we are able to actually make this happen.

Coming to Ouaga for me is always very bittersweet. It’s definitely exciting to see all my volunteer friends and I look forward to the opportunity to indulge in a few superficial amenities (wifi, plumbing, good food). In terms of this training, we learned some very valuable information that I look forward to being able to apply to my work in village. It’s also fun to hear what everyone is up to in their individual areas of Burkina and be able to hear stories of their interactions in village. Of course it’s always nice to be able to speak English, and know that you are able to really get your point across - that nothing is being lost in translation. On the other hand, it makes it hard being connected to the “real world” and knowing what I’m missing out on, so to say, back home in the states. I know it might be a little hard readjusting to village life after two weeks away, but I think that knowing that I have new goals in mind for what I want to accomplish will help soften the blow.

I have many more thoughts that I am incapable of articulating right now - I think it will just take a night back in village writing by lamplight to compose another coherent post. One thing is for sure, hot season is slowly getting underway...Awesome. I'm going to soak up one more night with electricity. Anyway, thanks to those who are still following my adventure, wherever in the world you are. :-)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Website

We have a new website here in Burkina: www.pcburkina.org. I'm the ICT committee representative for Girls Empowerment and Education (GEE), and although I can't really take any credit for it, we're doing some cool stuff with volunteer resources. Volunteers and our program directors have the ability to upload news about their projects, events, grant opportunities etc. Check it out!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The first Noel...

I just passed a major milestone: my first Christmas away from home. Although I was anticipating the worst (locking my windows and doors, drowning my sorrows with filtered water and playing the Glee Christmas album on my ipod) it actually wasn’t a bad couple of days. Two of my closest volunteer neighbors were able to spend the holiday with me in Navielgane and it was definitely a Christmas I’ll never forget.

Hailey and Austin came in on the evening of the 24th – Hailey bearing the boxed wine we’d purchased the day before, Austin toting a chicken and a guinea hen. We were definitely at no shortage for livestock since around 7 that night my tutor shoed up with yet another chicken. Christmas day, after a breakfast of care package blueberry pancakes (thanks to Austin’s parents) we attended a four hour long (no that’s not a typo) church service held almost entirely in Dagara. We filled the rest of the day with a series of unconventional, yet delicious meals (including care package stuffing, homemade tortillas, and of course the boxed wine), puzzles, and naps. I’m still in total denial that the holiday even happened, or that time continues to pass in the U.S. in my apsence, but if I have to have holidays without my family, I’m glad I have other volunteers to share them with. And the Burkinabe too of course.

New years was spent with my neighbors and a few other people in village. Holidays here are starting to look the same when celebrated with Burkinabe: lots of chicken, pasta, and Dolo. I didn’t make it to midnight on NYE, but the real celebration here is on the first.

In a couple of weeks I’m headed o my final round of training. In December was a week of language: I had an awesome trip to see Burkina’s one and only tourist attraction- Banfora falls. Now, its off to more technical training. I’ll be spending a week in my old training site and then another in Ouaga. I’m really looking forward to this training (IST) because it means that I’ll be able to start projects when I return to Navielgane, YAY!

This past week I had a meeting with a few members of the CVD. The actual meaning of CVD escapes me as I write this but it’s basically the equivalent of the village council. I wanted to ask them what were, in their minds, the most important things for me to do or their village. It was good to hear their perspective prior to training, so that now I have some things to research, gather materials on, etc. while I have access to them in Ouaga. It was definitely one of the most productive feeling days I’ve had in village in a while.

Not much else to report on this end. I’ve received a couple of really awesome care packages in the past few weeks, so I’ll end this post by saying thank you thank you thank you to: Mom and Dad, Erin, Tim and Chris, Grammy, Pilo and John, Sam, Uncle Joe, and all the aunties! Your support means the world to me and I’m so lucky to have family and friends like you back home. Love and miss you all!