Saturday, March 10, 2007

It feels like home to me...

I'm back in action in Ouahigouya, and man does it feel good. My first three months--and supposedly the most difficult part of Peace Corps service--has come to a close and I am back where I started in Ouahigouya for the second part of my training. After this, the Peace Corps releases me into the wild to begin implement whatever projects and ideas that I would like to do.

I can not describe to you the feeling that I had coming back here. It reminds me of when I would leave New York for vacation and come back to Alabama. When I walked into my host families courtyard I was immediately greeted by hugs, and "bon arrivee". I have never felt so loved in this country, except when I am here. I truly don't think I could have imagined that I would get so attached, but as of now this is the only place in the country where I feel truly loved...not loved because I am American, because they want a visa, or because they want money...I am loved because of me, and because I am a part of the family. They are my Burkinabé family. No one will ever take the place of my family back in the States...but they hold a really special place in my heart that is for certain.

Training is going well, and I have to say that things are REALLY coming together for me here. I was a little scared that I would spend the next two years reading and knitting--which isn't necessarily a bad thing--but after collaborating with the rest of the volunteers and having a chance to reflect. I am psyched to get back to my village and start some projects. A lot of you were curious as to what types of projects I was going to be doing, so I thought I would give you a little bit of information. I have a lot of planning to do, but here are a few things that I am thinking about getting started with:
  • Composting - natural fertilizer for farmers...I am going to teach them how to make it, use it, and possibly sell it.
  • Moringa - If you haven't heard about this tree--which most of you probably haven't--it has 7x the Vitamin C in one orange and 4x calcium in one glass of milk. I want to work with my health center to sensibilize (teach) women about the benefits of its usage, how to grow it, and how to sell it. Malnutrition here is definitely a problem that I want to focus on.
  • Kick Aids Soccer Team - this is a program started by Africare where you play soccer while at the same time utilizing activities that teach kids about AIDS as well.
  • CEG Community Garden - I want to start an after school club where kids manage a vegetable/fruit garden. The profits that they make from selling the fruit they can use to buy books, dictionaries, etc.
  • Marketing Workshop - I am going to have a workshop with different "commerçants" (business people) in my village to teach them the basics of marketing and accounting.
  • Maison de la Femme Project - this is by far the most intensive one that I have. I am trying to get the government to give the women soap-making equipment, sewing machines, and other machinery to allow them to start some small business projects and trade schools. I have a lot of steps and governmental hoops to jump through...but I can't just watch a brand new building go to waste.

Anyway, that is just a list of a few things on my list. It is a bit ambitious and I am sure that some will fall to the wayside...but time will tell.

This past March 8th in Burkina was one of the biggest holiday's in the is Women's Day. That's right, get down and worship the ground that I walk on, I am woman here me roar...all that good stuff. For our training, we had to put together an entire 4 hour event at a private school in Ouahigouya--including opening and closing ceremonies and activities for about 200 kids--and they gave us about 2 hours to plan it. We decided to have a field day type of event where the kids would rotate through activities stations...sounded like a good idea right? Well, I had to open my big mouth and say...why don't we do the human knot? You know that activity where everyone stands in a circle and grabs hands and then you have to untangle yourself into a circle again? Well, the Burkinabe definitely didn't know it. By the end of the activity kids had been stepped on, strangled, twisted, and everything else...and I don't think I saw them crack a smile once, except when I tripped on a rubber strap and busted my butt. Wow...a "nasara" falling on the ground is pretty funny to these kids. Maybe instead of doing an activity I could have just walked around falling on my ass for two hours. Hehehe! Yeah, our American idea of fun and the Burkinabé idea of fun is very different...and I don't know why it took me until now to figure that out. On top of that, I confused my Kiehl's 15 SPF lotion, and just the regular now I look like a LOBSTER! We stood out in the blazing African sun for 2 1/2 hours...and I got FRIED! Ouch!

Anyway, a lot has been happening...but in the end I don't really have all that much to share. I am definitely adjusting and this place is feeling more and more like home to me...something I wasn't quite expecting. Also, my plans have been confirmed...ISRAEL, May 18-28!! I can't wait! Mike and I are meeting in Paris and continuing on. This is going to be amazing, I just know it!

Thanks to everyone, and as always...stay close!

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