Blogs from Burkina Faso, Africa


Africa » Burkina Faso » Sud-Ouest November 23rd 2018

The irrepressible moto-tricycle driver Abu would invariably reach our evening’s campsite before us, and, punters distracted by tea and coffee and the prospect of ‘ablutions’, he and the guides would put up our generous-sized lightweight tents, clipping the fabric to the poles so that the tents could be moved around as required. I hate to think how hard it would have been to try and bang a tent peg or two into this hard unforgiving ground. Usually the flysheets would be left to one side – anything to reduce the temperature in the tents by a degree or two – but one evening, cautious of the amount of lightning that had been flickering in the far distance all evening, we put them on. And only just in time. My recollection is that it then rained pretty ... read more
sunrise over our Kounadougou homestay
pottery dancing, Kawara
carrying it high in Banfora

Africa » Burkina Faso » Sud-Ouest November 22nd 2018

The faces shine out at me, as intrigued by us as we are by them. I can hear the drums, the insistent beat, as the women start to move, clay pots balanced precariously on their heads. I feel the heat of the mid-afternoon sun. I can smell the dust, the cooking fires. I laugh at the children, born with the beat in their blood, the youngest barely able to stand but already able to dance. And then my phone beeps, and I’m at my desk in London, shivering in several layers of winter clothing, as I sort through my photographs. But for a few minutes I was there, back in Kawara, watching the laughing faces of the dancers, uncaring about the weight of the pots on their heads, sweat pouring off their faces, and the kids ... read more
pottery dancing, Kawara
Moussono Peaks
granaries in the old 'troglodyte' village

Africa » Burkina Faso » Centre November 10th 2018

Burkina Faso. Not an obvious destination. Not a country that ever hits the headlines, good or bad. Neighbouring Ghana gets the good-news stories, the headline-grabbing presidential and royal visits, the glowing reviews as ‘easy’ Africa. Ghana speaks English, things work (comparatively), and, if not always a paragon of western democracy, it’s at least been free of civil war and third party altercations for much of its sixty years of independence. Nearby Mali and Nigeria get the bad-news stories, the kidnappings, the terrorism, the desecration of history. Burkina Faso is one of those countries in the middle, in every sense. Landlocked, unremarkable, unremarked. Most people needed a map when I mentioned it. And/or looked worriedly at me, wondering aloud or inwardly, “is it safe?”. In terms of pre-trip homework, there was remarkably little. Bradt’s country guide hasn’t ... read more
Naba Koom
pensive sculpture
do you sell oranges?

Africa » Burkina Faso » Centre » Ouagadougou April 27th 2013

This past Thursday, April 25th, was World Malaria Day. I decided to make it a weeklong event and see just how many village members I could get to start talking about ways to prevent malaria. Volunteers have been talking with their communities about the importance of sleeping under a bed net every night and healthy medical treatment seeking habits. For Burkina Faso, the rainy season starts in late May, with the “Mango Rains” starting in April. Now is prime time for volunteers to get their communities prepared to protect themselves against malaria. This past week, I focused on getting my students at the primary school and the secondary school to start talking with their families about malaria prevention. I did programs with over 180 fifth and sixth grade students and 60 secondary school students during the ... read more

Africa » Burkina Faso » Centre » Ouagadougou April 16th 2013

It's World Malaria Month! Do you know what that means? Volunteers throughout Africa are competing to do the most amount of trainings/projects/activities/anything you can think of in their villages to raise awareness of malaria and to promote prevention methods and early treatment seeking habits. In Burkina Faso, volunteers are painting murals at their local health clinics, incorporating malaria discussions into their teaching curriculum, or sitting in their markets fixing holes in nets. For me, I have a whole week planned of events. Next week, I will be working with the CM1 and CM2 (5th and 6th grade) students and talking with them about everything malaria-related. Starting off each session, we will be playing Bed Nets & Mosquitoes. You start off with two ends called the "bed nets." Two students stand in the middle and act as ... read more

Africa » Burkina Faso » Centre » Ouagadougou April 8th 2013

Since my last post four months ago, a lot has changed here in Burkina Faso. Here's a brief update: At the end of January, I visited another volunteer's site to celebrate Mouloud, a Muslim holiday. We ate so much rice and sauce, dance until our feet were sore, and laughed and talked with people in the village. It was an amazing time to see such lively culture where everyone was so full joy. The volunteer's village has a beautiful mosque taken care of by a family originally from that village, but now lives in Cote d'Ivoire. They put on a huge party for us with tons of food and music and entertainment, and it was really one of the best holidays I've celebrated in this country so far. In February, I was asked to attend a ... read more

Africa » Burkina Faso December 28th 2012

I went to visit my host family in Sapone to see how they are doing and wow, are things different! My host mom is going to have a baby! My host dad gave me a chicken to help celebrate the New Year, which I am eagerly awaiting to kill for dinner tonight. We visited Valerie at her maquis, and didn’t really want to leave. She cooked every day for us during stage and is the little piece of Sapone that we all wanted to bring to our sites. She was so excited to see us. It felt a little strange to be back there after being away for four months, but we fell right back into the swing of things. Now, we’re back in the capital getting ready for New Year’s. In the mean time, I’ll ... read more

Africa » Burkina Faso » Centre December 27th 2012

Happy Holidays! I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful holiday season. I spent Christmas with three other volunteers and some Franciscan Sisters at one of the volunteer’s sites. We spent the day singing in French, English, and Moore, eating tons of food, and enjoying the company of some very wonderful people. While it was difficult to be away from family, we more than made up for it by talking about our own family traditions and talking with family on the phone. Two of the Sisters are from America and we were easily able to share stories and reminisce about life back home. But more importantly, we talked about how grateful we were to be able to experience the culture and holidays here. After stuffing our faces with the Sisters, we went back to one volunteer’s ... read more

Africa » Burkina Faso » Centre » Ouagadougou December 23rd 2012

We had In-Service Training the first two weeks of December and now my stage is off and running with great momentum! In-Service Training (IST) is a training program for each stage three months after swear-in and going to site. During those three months, we assess our sites by interviewing community members about general culture norms and basic needs of the community. I spent a lot of time at the hospital (CSPS) and the high school (lycee) and primary school. During IST, my counterpart (homologue) and I made our Plan d'Action for establishing a library at the lycee! And, with the help of family and friends of a previous volunteer, we will be working very closely with Friends of African Village Libraries (FAVL), an organization based in Ouaga that helps start libraries in rural villages. I could ... read more

Africa » Burkina Faso » Centre » Ouagadougou November 20th 2012

It's been 3 months since I've gotten to site and I already feel more than comfortable at home. I got a puppy a couple weeks after getting there, and he helped me get through two of the roughest months one can face as a Volunteer. Unfortuntately, my dear Bruno passed away last week. Along with each puppy from his litter and several dogs in my neighborhood, he contracted some sort of parasite the veterinarian could not get rid of. With in the same week, a new family moved into my courtyard, a nurse at the CSPS with 3 children all under 10. I couldn't be happier to have such a wonderful family to share my evenings with. I also work with the nurse at the CSPS, which makes feeling comfortable there all that much easier. Thanksgiving ... read more

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