I’ve been super busy with cool, Peace Corps-y, non-ebola related activities this summer in West Africa and I haven’t shared any of it with the internet! Really didn’t expect my summer here to be so action packed. Since my last post, I was in Ouaga for my training group’s mid-service conference (huge excuse to get all second year volunteers to poop in cups for medical clearances, disguised as three days of sessions at the PC bureau), went to Ouahigouya with a friend for vacation (home to the fastest internet cafe in country and a pretty sweet pool), then spent a week in Tougan with a few other volunteers studying Dioula and learning to cook. I celebrated Ramadan at site then went to my COSing friend David’s village, Yaho, for a dolo-filled going away party then stopped in Bobo for a night with friends before heading back to Founzan. Baskets 4, 5 and 6 of the Founzan Disc Golf Course (FDGC) are nearly finished and will be open/lightly wooded shots through a field behind basket 3, and my first bissap (sweet drink brewed from hibiscus leaves) wine batches are continuing to ferment in my kitchen.
I’m coming off a busy week after a successful first annual Girls’ Soccer Camp in Bobo, put on by a handful of volunteers with 54 girls ages 8 to 19 from around the Hauts-Bassins region. The administration at my school in village all left town for the summer so finding the six girls I chose to bring with me to camp was interesting. I got out my grade sheet from last year and picked the top girls from my classes, only knew where one of them lived, then spent a week biking around to small satellite villages with that one girl I did know looking for the others. It was fun, it felt like one of those montage scenes in a movie where the protagonist assembles a rag-tag team of delinquents for the upcoming roller coaster of a plot line. Each house visit went about the same: the student looked terrified to see her Math teacher during summer months, then beamed in front of her parents when she found out I was there to invite her to Bobo because of her high scores in class. They had a great time at camp. We stayed at a three story private school (on the first day all my girls wanted to do was hang out on the top story), and had sessions on things like puberty, family planning, girls’ empowerment, and first aid, along with many soccer drills and games. Go team purple crocodiles.
My other big project recently is helping the Gender and Development committee plan the Men As Partners Conference down 42km south of me in a place called Dano. I’m the closest volunteer to the city so over the past few months I’ve been booking conference rooms, looking for housing, informing local authorities, exploring restaurants, planning sessions, etc in hopes of a smooth running conference. The MAP Conference is set for September 23rd to 28th and will deal with topics like good communication, healthy/unhealthy relationships, gender v. sex, fatherhood, and sexual violence among other things. Twelve to fifteen volunteers will come from around the country with their community counterparts to participate. Very Peace Corps-y.
So the grant for this has been written and accepted and now the GAD committee is all out of money which brings me to this week: Bike Tour Burkina Faso! Starting today, a small group of volunteers and I will be biking from Orodara to Bobo-Dioulasso, stopping at certain sites giving presentations on how to make tofu, not get malaria, etc to raise money for the GAD committee so that things like the MAP Conference and Women’s Health Conference (held last April) can continue to happen. When I say I’m raising money though, I mean that I’m biking (a thing I do all the time anyway) while asking people to donate to the Peace Corps Burkina Faso GAD Committee here. So please, donate money to the Gender and Development committee to fight inequality in the third world while I bike around southwest Burkina Faso. Put « GAD Bike Tour » in the comments section to make sure the money goes to the right place. Thanks everyone, here’s a picture of my friend Jean Paul with a cool bird he caught.