Friday, February 13, 2015

January 7th - Interviews and Doughnuts

Mercredi 7 Janivar 2015

I had some trouble falling asleep last night because it was loud (between the bar [there was one right down the road] and the animals) and it was SO COLD! I got up at one point to put on fuzzy socks. I got up around 7:30am and had yogurt, and peanut butter on egg toast [egg bread, toasted], and tea. We saw the gross mouse and are waiting for it to be trapped. Amy came over and I gave her the camera [that I brought over, it's a funny story actually but you'll find out later in the trip] and went over [with] her to Pauline to get measured for my skirt. I'm using the navy and yellow fabric and it's [going to be] modeled off of the one that Barka was wearing during prayer last night. I was thinking about getting ones made for mom and [the] sisters. I also need to remember to get gifts for the other people as well.

After that I went to go talk to Barto about education and stuff and it was super interesting but also tiring. We talked for like three hours. I got a ton of information and am really excited about where this project could end up going. I had a really good time learning about things that his father told him about colonization and such as well as [about] when he went to school in the village. I also had some papaya from his garden, it was good - I've never had [papaya] before. [...] It was fun to tell him about my school experience and school in the US, but also explain that we have a problem with inner city schools. It was also interesting [I think?] for him to hear about how God wasn't in our schools like he is here. When we were talking, I did the thing [I can't remember where I read/learned about this] where I would just not say anything once the conversation stopped and he would think a while and then start talking again. It worked really well and that's where I got some of my most interesting stories. I really appreciated how interested he seemed in what I was doing.

Doughnut lady
After we were done I went to go see the embroidery on Tante Marie's skirt [too see if I wanted any of my material embroidered] and Coral had me show her a picture of me and Sr. Linda (the OCC [Operation Christmas Child] one), because she has been here for 14 years and so obviously knows Linda. [I also heard many a time that we "all secretly work for Tante Marie"]

Now I need to talk to more people, take Steve to play, and figure out this dance thing. I can't believe I only have a week left! I don't want to go!

My fried dough-ball with some cinnamon sugar
We went to the market to get some things, we went to Isaki's (he speaks very good English) and bought veggies from a street vendor. I'm really craving a nice granny smith apple but we can't seem to find any anywhere. We stopped at a side of the road vendor for a fried doughnut ball. The whole scene was pretty gross [dead animals, dirty children...] but it tasted good so whatever.

The unknown girl, Steve, and Elsa
After, I went to play with Steve, Elsa, and this other little girl (who kept calling me Nasara). One of my favorite things was when they were all running up the stairs and down the slide (eventually after posing for a picture), I think it was good for them to use all that energy - they'll sleep well tonight. They had a blast with the camera - both taking pictures and being in them and their laughs were so pure and genuine. The quote about the first baby's laugh breaking into pieces that became fairies is SO TRUE! It was fantastic. Steve went to go "llave llave" [get washed up] and I went to go hold the babies for a bit until Coral had me come back to the house to work with her and Amy on the craft for the sponsorship program Saturday. We learned a lot about the kids from Amy and I want to take notes for sure at some point. Biba also brought the bracelets that she makes and I bought some. [...]

After they all left, we had a nice dinner with cooked squash and rice which was really good.

Ok just back from my first hot shower all week (good thing I talked to Coral hahaha [I was turning the dial the wrong way-so cold showers my first few nights]) and also noticed my left arm is looking a little red. Wear more sunscreen. Also my face is super dry [...]

After dinner we went out with the people studying and Daniel showed us the report cards from last semester. They weren't so hot. He helped me find someone studying English (Fanny) so I could work with [her]. I have to set up a time to talk with him [about my project] asap. Working with Fanny was fun. It was so cool to see English being learned as a second language. I was disappointed in her text book though. There were a lot of errors. Her pronunciation was good except for the "th" sound and saying cinnamon for cinema. I liked explaining [to] her things like snow because she had no idea what I was talking about. [Also explaining how weird English is] Tomorrow is her birthday and she gets to go into town and get fabrique for 2 skirts and a treat called "yawour" which I think is like a milkshake but she's going to show me mañana. She also showed me how to say "Happy Birthday" in French - Joyuex Aniversaire and Moré - Rogmetenré. The other girls thought it was hysterical when I tried to say it and Fanny told them to stop laughing but it was fine with me. I don't mind looking like a fool if I really want to learn something.
Example of a report card

I thought it was a really good day with a lot of relationship building which is super exciting and I think that's what's making this trip so worthwhile.

I think it's really cool that the girls use fabric that hasn't been made into skirts [actually most are panyas-wrap around skirts] yet as a shawl type thing to keep warm - speaking of warm the boys had a super messy room today so Mike took all the stuff that was on the floor - including blankets. With this weather, I think they'll be keeping their room cleaner in the future.

Winddinda got a very cute book from her family and it was so sweet to look at - God bless them. [...]

Bon Nuit!
Holly Rueger

Thursday, February 12, 2015

January 6th

Mardi 6 Janvier 2015

We're headed to the village Kabo (cabo?) [It's Kabo] today for a medical clinic and I'm super excited! I had yogurt, a baguette and PB, and pineapple for breakfast. I'm wearing the yellow patterned shirt and black skirt and sneakers today. Last night was freezing and very loud.

Our clinic in a church in Kabo, the nurses are from Sheltering Wings 
So we just got back from Kabo which is a village where we do outreach. It was my first trip out into the "bush" but still no culture shock. We [have] a wellness clinic which used to be a malnutrition clinic, but now that's not really a problem so it's just general wellness and it's all run through the pastor and his wife. 

There was a young mother with a baby who was in the hospital with liver problems but got kicked out because she couldn't pay. She is bringing the baby here [to Sheltering Wings] tomorrow. There was also this woman whose house fell on her last year during the rainy season and [it] broke her back and now she has a steel rod in it. She isn't in pain but she is getting it looked at. She's so beautiful, I want to know more about her. One of the things I am really struggling with is taking pictures. I want to capture the essence of the people but I feel like it is such and invasion, even if I do ask. I also want candids [pictures] but I'm finding difficult to bring myself to do it. Would I want it done to me?

The lady with the broken back
Digging bricks out of the ground
Anyways, we brought gifts over for a widow in our program but apparently she had passed away. At least that means another woman from her village can be sponsored. After we left the church [where we set up the clinic] we went even further out to a site where Mike and Amy were having a house and huts built. It's cool because they are experimenting with all of this cool technology like aquaponics [a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.] and this thing that converts methane gas into energy and once they work out all the kinks they are going to present them to villages so that they can be self sustaining. Also from the property you could see this cool shaped mountain which I want to hike, apparently it has a 3k long cave [going through it]. You could also see the gold mines. We were watching the men work, especially the ones digging up brick. It was really intense and obviously a lot of hard work. I can't decide if it's ok because they are getting paid and this is just how houses are built or not. The problem with technology [out here, in the bush] is that it is so expensive to get out here and what happens when something breaks or runs out of gas? It seems like [it would be] more work than it's worth. We live so differently but is our way "better"? Standing out there, I think I would be content to live there. It's absolutely beautiful and I realize that all the extra stuff I have is just baggage [material and otherwise]. Who needs it? Hell, I even brought too much for this trip!

In Kabo
I do hate being an outsider though, between skin color and language and even though the people here are so nice, it is disheartening to know I could never "fit in" [...] I have a new appreciation for [the] minority, especially in the social sense. I really do think this is something everyone should experience [...] 

Anyways, I am excited to see what this afternoon brings! Oh and I had some lovely pumpkin spice tea with sugar in it.

 [...insert a few pages of my coming up with ideas for my paper...]

After sieste [like siesta, a "rest" time from about 1-3] I am going to go talk to the people in the office to see if they can check/correct my translating. Then I'll talk to some kids and try them out. I'm also going to have Coral (re) introduce me to Daniel so I can talk to him about the education system since he's been through it [successfully]. I also need to find some paper for the kids to write on [...]

Man who we bought fabric from
So we went to the bigger market they have every third day. Amy brought me, Coral, and Biba. It was really nice to have Biba with us to ask about prices and tell us what material was good quality. We got a few head scarves for the widows and Coral got material for a skirt for the one [widow] she is sponsoring and one for herself. I got two materials - a yellow-orangy and navy one with animal (doves and such) print and a yellow and navy one with starry like designs. The first was 2 mill [just under $4] and I got a deal on the second one for 1 mill 600 [$2.77]. The second one we [I] bought was at the original place we went to and the guys were really nice and even cleared a bench for us to sit at while we waited for Amy to pick us up. All of the guys [at the market] were really funny trying to sell us their cloth. We heard a lot of "tres joli"! ["very pretty"] It was SO nice to have Biba with us. I also learned that "barka" is thank you in Moré. [We also met a very rude sesame seed seller, probably the only rude person I met the entire trip]
In the fabric store with Biba and Coral

This afternoon I also went to the office and had Ernest help me translate my questions [...]

I went to go see little Steve and he looked like he missed me! It was cool because I was banging on a bin and he started doing it too but he had this whole cool rhythm going on and it was amazing. I want to work with him mañana and get a video of him drumming. He's so adorable! I spent some time watching Biba and her friends do some geometry homework. They were really struggling and it was really hard to watch [and not interfere, because observing] and [then] Lea helped them out. It was really interesting to watch their thought process. For one problem, Lea (older than them) did it - drawing a figure and left them with it and the figured out how she did it by looking at it/measuring it. All of the girls were frustrated with how difficult the problems were. They spent a long time on two of them, one I don't think was right, before "taking a break".

In Kabo
We made pasta for dinner and went to a prayer thing that they have with the older kids every Tuesday and it was really awesome. They did a lot of singing in Moré so I didn't understand but I could feel their love of God. They did their private praying out loud which was cool, as both French and Moré are so beautiful. Josué (who wants to be a doctor) was the preacher tonight and did a fantastic job. It was about how it is a new year and we need to work on a new identity. We need to become what we want our identity to be, we can't just expect people to call us what we are not. Daniel was awesome and translated it as we went and did a good job even though he apologized for not being able to keep up, as Josué was talking pretty fast. [Still amazed how well/fast they can translate to English] [...] 

After prayer we made the announcement about me talking to the kids about school and then Coral had Barto explain all about how I got here and how Sr. Linda was my 5th grade teacher and how I was a "role model for excellence" and it was SO SWEET! It felt amazing and [some of the older kids] were really excited and wanted to talk to me about school work tomorrow so that's exciting. 

The mountain with the cave I really want to hike
After prayer, we handed out gifts that Coral's cousin sent the kids (candy canes and pens). We [Coral and I] were talking about Assami who is 16 but flunked out of school in [the equivalent of] 4th grade and now doesn't [can't] go because he is so far behind. He wants to learn, so Coral is tutoring him but it makes me so upset and sad that her can't go to school [there's no such thing as "remedial" education in Burkina Faso]. He has a garden and chickens and does the aquaponics set up but he would (and has) just fail in the school system. Mike is mentoring him in "excellence" in farming. He [Assami] is hard to understand because he had a late cleft palate surgery. I was thinking, a library would be really helpful here, the problem is the lack of Moré  material. I should have brought my [old] textbooks, at least for the pictures. Also some ballet books because I want to do a dance exchange workshop, where I [teach] ballet and they [the kids] teach me African dance. It's also been interesting because a lot of the things I've learned in anthropology I've been seeing here, like choosing traditional over modern medicine and Coral told me about the widow she's sponsoring - two people in her village died and so of course they blame the 80 something year old widow. She got kicked out and came here for a bit but now she is staying with extended family. 

On a final note, I'm noticing this [my time there] is a lot like working at the CSU. You can help people in the moment but you can't change their past and you can't change their future, you can only give them skills that might help them endure it. Ugh. Well the moon (full) was beautiful tonight, there is loud music playing, tomorrow I will again put myself out there because life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Off to the shower and then bed!

Bon Nuit,
Holly Evelyn

PS. I think it's so funny that everyone has such a hard time saying my name.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Let's Try this again: January 5

SO blogging while I was in Burkina didn't work out very well because by the time I was ready to wind down for the night I had to upload pictures to facebook (because I was paranoid about loosing them) and write in my journal (because I wanted to write every single detail down) and that whole process took close to two hours each night. Also the internet was slow. So I'll write posts for each day and you can read them now! All of this is taken from my travel journal, things I changed are in brackets.

January 5:

I woke up to chickens and music this morning. I slept pretty well except my pillow was a bit hard. One of my journaling issues is that I want to capture every moment on paper but it's simply not possible, especially with the long conversations I've been having. I'll do my best but remember the experience is more important than recording. It's so cool to be sitting in my room hearing all of the kids playing, getting ready outside. Just something from yesterday- the [younger] kids have a habit of "ruining" things - bike pumps, cell phones, chairs, etc by picking at them and such. Coral think's it's an institutionalized thing as she has seen it in other places where she has done mission work.

Also when I first got here I was a little [surprised] by the religious nature [of the organization] [I wasn't thinking about it as I was freaking out about other things leading up to the trip], after being here though, I think it's a good think and I'm glad it's not just an NGO. There is amazing work being done here both for the kids and the community-kids from the community come and hang out here and the school in town is sponsored by Sheltering Wings and many of the kids have been brought up Christian anyways. Also, Coral is amazed how long it has been "on my heart" to come here. She's so sweet!

I am so impressed with the language skills of the kids - More is so beautiful. Also [during] the car ride [from Yako] it was so cool to listen to the conversation drift between French and English. It's about 10am. For breakfast this morning I had yogurt, bananas, and a crushed up granola bar. The yogurt was tart, like frozen yogurt but good. Coral and I went to get the three "toddlers", Moise, Winddinda, and Steve. She does therapy type things with them - from occupational (brushing teeth) to speech (singing) to physical (walking on the beam). It's really amazing to watch what she's done, especially with Winddinda who is very delayed developmentally. Steve is very bright, he can "communicate" in French and English [He knows what you are asking him to do] and he's only 4. He is also so patient with Winnie and Moise, I don't believe he has and developmental delays. His mom hasn't released custody so he's not actually up for adoption. Also it's pretty cold out so we are inside but it should warm up!

Steve and Moise
I think my biggest struggle has been and will be figuring out how to make the most of my time here. I find myself intimidated by both the local people and the older kids, especially the [ones] around my age. I know they are nice but there is still something intimidating. I regret not having more French, I feel uncomfortable with interactions because I can't speak their language. I also hate that the kids in the village yell "Nasara Boom-Boom!" Which means "White Person Candy!".
[I found this about the origin of Nasara on the blog of someone I met:
Village Kids
          They always yell “Nasara!” which is the word for foreigner. As the first foreigners to visit this country, Christian missionaries came from Nazareth to spread their gospel. Henceforth, in the eyes of Burkinabe, all foreigners are referred to as a Nasara. Strangely enough, when I visited Nazareth I didn’t see anyone else who looked anything like me…]

[I talked a lot about my project but you can read about that when I finish it]
I also just wanted to say that I really am astonished by how this program is run, the needs and the abilities of the children are well understood and some things are understandable - like still having outhouses while we have running water - are understandable. This is the fact of life for these kids and we are giving them the care and resources they need to thrive. I'm also realizing just how little we need to get by and be happy. Also on education the main issue I see is memorizing and lack of critical thinking - it's so frustrating! It will also be interesting to see what goals the school age kids have for themselves after school is over for them [one of the questions I planned to ask when I went into the schools]. It really just changes the way you think, being here, what do these kids really want out of life and how it is different/the same as me.

Ok so this morning I was really struggling with what to do and being intimidated and stuff but everything is working out very nicely. I set up two days to go and talk to the kids at the school (and get written answers) and I'm also going to try to talk to some of the kids here tomorrow night. The school system is so frustrating because it's not fostering creativity or critical thinking because most of the kids are just going to end up selling things or working in a job where there is no room for growth - so why does school even matter? Also, why are they learning German?
Coral and I went to the market again and did a little exploring. We got to go in and get a behind the scenes look at the baguette place (my favorite!). The lady there is so nice (and pregnant!). When we got back we watched some of the women dying the yarn that they use to weave/sew. I did a puzzle with the kids and it was really interesting to watch - most paid no attention to what was on the pieces, even though they had the picture in front of them, and pushed the pieces together.. One kid, Yannick, had it all figured out.
It was [one kid's] birthday (or something) and he got a gift and one part was this nice Swiss chocolate. The first thing he did was go around and share with everyone, including me. It was so sweet, why can't we all be like that? DO we need a whole chocolate bar to ourselves? Why are we so selfish! After, I went to hold the babies, adorable as usual. It's funny because Winnie is so intrigued by white skin, since she's being adopted so she keeps playing with my arm. Steven asked if I was her mom <3 I would take him home in a heartbeat. We went to the market again with Amy and Moise and looked t fabric for the widows. We went to the store we normally go to and the man said something to the kid  who was working with him about me being a good wife! [that happened a lot over the course of the trip...]. It's intimidating being to young but at the same time it's fun. [...] The more I think about it, the more I want to do work like this while I'm young. I don't need anything besides food and a little house. Why are we so materialistic? Anyways, we went to dinner at Mike and Amy's house and had rice and potato curry and apples. It was really nice to sit and listen to their stories (good and bad - kids do [get sick] and die) and hear orphanage news. It's interesting that things I learned in my anthropology class are true - like the frustration of watching people (including the pastor!) pick "traditional medicine" which can be really dangerous for [the person receiving it]. We also talked about how the school system is basically setting the kids up to fail. I need to understand. I don't know if better education is the right answer, but the fact of the matter is that the system is failing.

Also, I love all of the songs the tantes [care givers] sing and the handshake [that is popular here, with the shaking hands and snapping the other person's finger]. I also met Daniel the tutor, he will be good to talk to about education. Also, the kids study three hours a night, how are they all failing! One of my struggles is language - I know greetings in French and "joli" and basic numbers and "semaine" and a few other things, and Barto taught us "Ah-bil-ee-fou" is More for "see you soon. When I come back, before grad school (?), I will be better at French.  I think today really gave me a chance to think about why I am here and what I want to do while I'm here. By focusing on education, I can direct my energy to that and understand the system and see if I can find anyway to help. Also, I love the women's program ladies - they are hilarious et tres joli! Bon Nuit! HER