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.

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