Thursday, June 11, 2009

first week and village

premiere semaine au Burkina


week in reo





honeymoon in busua

honeymoon in busua


last week in burkina

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Well, the marriage finally took place yesterday and tomorrow we are headed to Ghana.

After waiting the whole weekend to get the final paper signed, Souley and Lasso went Monday afternoon to get the paper only to discover that we had to meet the next day with the judge to explain why we did not want to wait the 30 days. So the next morning Souley and I had the interview and then left all the remaining paperwork with Lasso who ran around finalizing everything. Souley and I decided that we could not continue to stay in Koudougou with nothing to do until the following Saturday so we decided to head north to Dori which in a town in the Sahel to visit his nephew.

The nephew help Souley discover shea butter groups last summer when he was collecting samples and so it was good for me to get to talk to him and hear his reaction to the groups that he visited. All of the groups, including the one we visited in Reo, are very well organized and make "organic" shea butter.

Omar, the nephew, is one of the sweetest, most hostipable people that I have ever meet and we enjoyed the three days that we spent with him. He is a teacher in a small village near Dori. We went with hi one day to see his classes. There wasn't a whole lot of teaching going on but we had some good conversations about development and politics. Right before we were leaving to go back to dori a massive wind/dust storm hit. The Sahel looks a lot like Pecos and I naturally felt at home with the surroundings. However, nothing in my life has every prepared my for the dust storm. It lasted for probably an hour and a half and at the end of it I was covered with brown sand. I had to wear my sun glasses and cover my nose and mouth for the entire time. The wiond was so strong that it began lifting the tin roof off the building. It was actually really quite scared and now know what a tornado must be like. Aside from that we visited the biggest lake in the Sahel region and the sand dunes near Dori. The director of Omar's school was also extremely nice and feed us every meal and gave us fresh milk (straight from the cow) every day. He also but Souley and I a wedding present. We each got leather sandals that a really beautiful. The whole trip made me a little jealous of the volunteers who lived in the Sahel.

When we got back to Koudougou, everything was arranged. Our wedding was really small (we were 8 total). Unfortunately Julia had a conflict and couldn't make it. I was running late in the morning and so was more than a little frazzled. Our friend Lasso came to take me to the Hotel de ville where the state marriages take place. Unfortunately my skirt was so tight that I could not get on the back of the moto so I had to walk to the mayors office. It wasn't far but it was around noon and therefore the heat of the day. By the time I got there, my hair had curled again, all my make up was off, and I had huge sweat marks on the front of my dress. I picked some flowers from a bougavilla as a bouquet and Lasso helped my arrange them. We then sat at a table across from Lasso's brother, the mayor and the governor. The governor talked for about 45 minuted giving us his advice, etc (like he was a priest or something!). It was a very simple ceremony but sweet and the governor made a few jokes so it was pretty lighthearted. We then went to a nice European style restaurant and had a nice meal. The mayor even came (I assume because we were the last marriage of the day and probably having food from the nicest place).

Today we came to Ouaga to get ready for Ghana tomorrow. All and all things are going well and as scheduled, which is pretty rare here.

Oh, also two days ago we met with the Imam and the (oh gosh, I dont know the word in English) guy who makes the plows. He had them all done and the Imam took them back to the village. I have pictures and will try to remember to upload them next time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Burkinabe Redtape - Quelle joie!

So, things were moving along rather well, until Thursday. For some inexplicable reason, no one worked on Thursday. When asked, I was told that no one was working because it was a) Thursday and b) something to do with the day of baptisms (although no one seemed to be doing that either). So Yesterday was a bust which means that we were trying to get all of the finishing paperwork done todat, which is friday, and that is never a good sign. Our friend Lasso came by this morning to help us navigate our way through the courthouse and through the medical tests, which was all that was left. We got the medical paperwork done this morning and much to my relief the doctor waived the normal blood tests. I was a little wary of having a Burkinabe doctor search for a vein to take my blood. We then went to the courthouse to get the last remaining paper which is a request for a waiver of the normal three month waiting period. This isn't a big problem since Lasso has connections in the mayor's office but the judge who was supposed to sign the paperwork was (big surprise) not working today because it is Friday. So, we now have to wait until Monday to get the paper. As soon as we get the paper on Monday we will then take it to Lasso's brother in the mayor's office who says that he can then d the marriage whenever we want. I am hoping to get it done before the 30th so that we still have time to go to Ghana.

Tomorrow morning we will go to Reo to meet with the second woman's group that makes shea butter. More to come on that later.

I think that we have decided to wear traditional clothes for the wedding here. It seems more appropriate and I have never had a traditional dress made so I feel like this is a good a time as any. The only other wedding detail that we are still discussing is whether or not to hire a photographer. I have my camera and just assumed that someone could take the pictures for us but last night we were eating with Lasso and his family. They showed us the pictures or their wedding which were pretty well done so now we are thinking maybe we would want to have someone take the pictures as well.

On the health front, yesterday, I am sorry to say, I had a slight case of ghardia. I guss I spoke too soon in my last blog. Things are better today however.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Back to Burkina

I know that I haven't blogged for the last two years, but since I am back in Burkina, I feel the need to start up again.

First the news of the wedding: Souley and I have been trying to get all of the paperwork together and are almost finished with everything we need. We got the papers from the embassey the day after I got here. Then last weekend, our friend, Lasso, set up a meeting with his brother. His brother is in charge of the paperwork for marriages at the mayor's office in Koudougou. We are very lucky to have his help and both he and Lasso have done so much to help see use through the process which would otherwise be vexing. It turns out that my lack of an original birth certificate is no problem at all. All of that worrying was for nothing which proves Souley's point to me that it is best not to worry too much about the future.

There is only one paper that we need to get now and we need our blood tests and then we should be able to fix a date. I am hoping it will all be finished by next week but things always take longer than expected in Burkina.

Things here have not changed much in th two years that I have been gone and it feels very much as though I never left. And, luckily, I have no sicknesses to report as of now.

Souley aand I spent the last few days in village. We figured that we couldn't get our paperwork finished on the weekend so we might as well visit Tiogo. It also happened to be a Sunday followed by a market day which meant that no one was working in the field and I could see more people. I swear that I got more done in the two days in village that I did in two months when I lived here before. I had a total of maybe 1 hour by myself the entire time because there was a constant stream if visitors or people I needed to visit. My family was very happy with their resents and I bought them a sack of rice that they really appreciated. I did not get to see my favorite mother because she had gone to a neighboring village to visit relatives.

Souley and I went to the neighboring town one day to meet with the women who prepared some of the shea butter that Souley had sent as a sample. They showed us how the press worked and we talked a little about how they operate. Unfortunately they do not seem to be as organized as I would like for them to be but they seem very enthusiastic.

I meet several times with the mayor of our village about the ploughs. He said that the paper I had requested detailing how they were going to rent out the ploughs was finished but I never actually saw the paper as, true to form, the faux type in charge of writing was unavailable when I was in village. The mayor and I then decided, as Gwen had suggested, to give one to the protestant church, one to the catholic church and one to the mosque. The mayor also suggested that we give one to the head witchdoctor. The ploughs are going to cost less that originally planned so we have enough money to purchase 4. They were very happy and gave me two roasters which Souley is bringing from village today 5he stayed in village an extra day while I had to make a quick trip to Ouaga to get my passport from the Ghanian embassey.

So far the one sad point is my "daughter" who I learned in January got married (actually, it is to Souley's older brother - how weird is that?).It was her choice and was not a forced marriage (I made sure to ask that several times). She is 16 not 15 as I thought but even Souley agrees that it is young to be married. She finished this year of school and said that she will try to go next year but I had my doubts when she told me. THe next day, the village midwife and I were talking in the market and she told me that Bregetou was already 3 months pregnant (which B herself forgot to mention to me) so now I seriously doubt that she will finish her schooling.

I will keep you informed when I know more details.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sound Equipment

So, I must brag about my wonderful theater troupe. We just received word that their project for sound equipment is going to be funded. This is a major success as we have been working on the project proposal for the last six months. They plan to use the sound equipment to attract a larger audience and to host dances in the village in order to earn money for future props, costumes and other needs. The ultimate goal is to fund another bike a thon in two years.

I originally wrote a proposal to the Friends of Burkina Faso organization. They are a group of returned Burkina Peace Corps volunteers who fund well organized groups. The organization prefers to work very closely with host country nationals so we were asked to submit another proposal written in french by the association members. This is definately an undertaking that is more easily said than done; however, the group pulled together and finished the grant. They were then asked a series of detailed questions and had to come up with an action plan for the next two years. Because we had no way to transfer funds, two group members had to make two trips to Koudougou in order to open an account at the bank. We also had to find a trustworthy Burkinabe who can use the internet to act as a superviser after I leave. Finally, two members also made a trip to Ouagadougou in order to meet with a representative of the organization. So after much hard work, they truly deserve this sound equipment.

Although it was a lot of work for them, I really believe this has made them a sustainable and efficient group. The group was really well organized when I first got to Tiogo but they had always relied on a volunteer as a way to finance their activities and guide them. Because the project required detailed and measurable goals, they have now been forced to organize themselves and rely on one another. Their biggest obstacle has always been a lack of money, but they now hope to earn it themselves through the dances, a video club (really just a television and vcr where they show movies and charge people a small fee) and by renting out their equipement. In order to measure their effectiveness, we are currently working on baseline data collection. They are interviewing people in the village about malaria and AIDS (this is especially difficult now that it is the rainy season and they must work in the fields.

Thanks to all of you who have been sending positive thought vibes and prayers our way. This means that I will definately be back in July as it was one of my last big activities. I am more than ready for it and hope to see you all soon!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hiding Out from the Heat

Not much has been going on since dad and Gwen left. It has been too hot to think really and I have been spending a lot of time hanging out at the pool in Koudougou in order to avoid the heat. I realize that it may seem crazy to bike two hours there and another to hours back just to swim, but, believe me, it is more than worth it!

The theatre troupe recently finished a tournee of the local villages doing a Moringa play. This will officially conclude the district wide series of Moringa sensibilisations we started last summer. We passed through each of the 12 villages at least 4 times. Also, I recently synthesized the results on the baby weighing study, however, the study was too small to really see a significant change.

The group and I are also currently still working with a group of returned Peace Corp volunteers from Burkina to get our sound equipment. We are currently awaiting the final decision so everyone please think positive thoughts.

Currently I am working with a women's group on a variety of environmental projects. They are going to plant alley crops of Moringa trees in their peanut fields to see if there is a higher crop yield. They are also planting a hard wood nitrogen fixing tree as a living hedge around their gardens. This way they don't have to chop down trees to make their fences. Since they use wood to cook, they can use branches from the living hedge and therefore will not have to go into the forest to search for firewood. This will save their time and the forest. Finally, I have a contraption that makes fuel bricks to use in place of fire. The bricks are made of peanut shells, dried leaves and recycled paper. This will hopefully cut down on wood usage. The women have been making and using the bricks. They told me the other day that they really enjoy using them because they last a long time. Then, one women said, "We can use these during the rainy season when the wood is wet." I hadn't even thought of this but it is true that last year my family went without eating dinner more than a few nights because the wood was to wet to prepare food. The women are thinking about selling the bricks.

Well, that is a quick update on my activities. Not much else is going on.

Thursday, April 12, 2007