Summer break is over so I guess that means my extended leave from blogging should be over as well.
I’m going to try my best to update you on the past 6 months of my life (wow has it really been 6 months?!) but as I’m sure you all can imagine a lot has happened. I haven’t spent but a couple weeks in village during the break because of all the activities that were planned for over the summer. I’ll try and give a quick breakdown of each activity along with some photos but as always if you want to know more just ask!
A new group of Education and Ag/Business volunteers arrived in the beginning of June and started their training in Sapone. Myself along with a group of current volunteers assisted in their training. As current volunteers it was our job to break them in and show them the ropes of living in Burkina. Their training covers everything, French, local language, information on the Burkina school system such has how it works what we are here to help with and the challenges that we face along with cross-sector training (ex. reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, malaria, hygiene, nutrition, income generating activities, reforestation, etc.). I loved working with the new group it was refreshing to see them come in with such high hopes and all of the plans they have for their service. After being here for a while I tend to forget why I wanted to do the Peace Corps in the first place so having them around was a great motivation to get my butt back in gear.
Youth Day – Day Camp
My friend Idriss arranged a day camp in his village for a group of students to celebrate African Youth Day. We spent the day playing games and eating and reminding the kids that they ARE kids and they should be able to have some fun and let loose.
FAVL Literacy Camp
The second camp I participated in this summer was a literacy camp with Emily, my good friend/Ghana buddy/partner in just about everything. FAVL (Friends of African Village Libraries) a Peace Corps partnered NGO held several literacy camps in the South-West of Burkina. The specific one we worked at was located in Dimikuy, a super small and completely beautiful village about 7 Km from another GEE volunteer. Unlike most of the other FAVL literacy camps this one focused on the 25 lowest students in CM1 (4th grade). Throughout the week we did all times of activities, the students made their own books, learned songs, went over good hygiene practices, taught them about HIV/AIDS with the help of a story, created animal masks and had group reading along with one on one time. Because they were so far behind a majority of Emily and my time was spent helping the 4 lowest learn the alphabet. The rest of the students worked with the other teachers who were also running the camp. The camp was not at all what I expected, it blew my mind to see how far some of the students had advanced in school without being able to read the alphabet. It broke my heart to see that there were students with obvious learning disabilities that would never be addressed because no one around is qualified to help. Plus the classes are so full none of the students will ever get that one on one attention that is deserved/needed. It was a great experience and had a greater impact on me than I ever could have imagined.
Check out the FAVL website if you want more info on them and please take time to appreciate how lucky we are to be born in a country with the resources that are available to us. Oh and if you have some spare change maybe think about donating, teaching a child to read will without a doubt change their life.
Where to buy their books
This camp has been an enormous amount of work and has been months in the making. I have been working for months with a counterpart in village and the two of us alone brought 24 kids from 3 different schools in Ziniare.
Camp GLOW nothing new for Peace Corps it has already been establish and proven successful in plenty of other PC countries but it was the first year here in Burkina. For our first annual camp it was decided that we would have two consecutive camps, one in the South-West and the other in Kaya (just an hour north of me) not only were we going to do two camps at the same time we were also going to double the duration from one week to two and also include young men, thus Camp G²LOW (Girls and Guys Leading Our World).
During the camp we discussed topics such as family planning, reproductive health, puberty, decision making, healthy lifestyles, nutrition, future aspirations, negative effects of alcohol and cigarette use, panel of professionals, life skills, HIV/AIDS, and sexual harassment/violence On top of the daily sessions we of course added games and activities such as capture the flag, a showing of She’s the Man, camp songs, yoga, condom games, ice breakers, bracelet making, a talent show, and even a small field trip.
It was a huge undertaking and so much went into the camp. I would love to sit here and tell you every last detail… ok really I don’t that would be way to much work. Instead I’m going to post a ton of pictures and let them speak for themselves.
Peace Corps 50th Anniversary Fair
Speaking of a lot of work…
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps so a group of volunteers formed a committee to organize a 3-day fair in the Capital to coincide with the swearing in of the newest stage. The fair was meant to showcase all the hard work of the volunteers, their counterparts in village and to thank the people of Burkina for their collaboration with us. After months of planning, calling every volunteer in county, raising money to get everyone to the Capital, and working alongside the Peace Corps bureau in Ouaga it all came to fruition. Even with a rainy start it all turned out better than I had ever expected, we had volunteers from all over the country selling/showcasing their work in village, a carnival with a homemade dunk tank (thanks to 2 specific volunteers and 1 bureau staff member who thought it was the greatest thing he’s ever seen), local artisans, performances by volunteers, a mini Camp G²LOW, and so much more. The 3-day event kicked off with the swearing in of the new volunteers and ended with an appearance by the First Lady and a performance by Floby (Burkina’s most popular artist) who generously wrote a song specifically for Peace Corps.
Because I was running around like a crazy person and going on very little sleep there are very few photos of me but we did put together a music video for the Floby song and here are a couple links to youtube videos that were put together after the fair. Check out fellow PCV Scott's blog for more photos and videos!
A fellow volunteer posted to his blog about the fair click here to check it out! He also linked other videos so check those out as well!
Well there you have it. The last 6 months of my life. Hope you enjoyed the read, all my love!