Work, on the other hand, has been going well, and keeping me busy. If not for that, I fear I probably wouldn't have lasted a year. My women's groups that did the shea butter formation just started the formal process to become a government recognized Union, and a Netherlandese NGO, SNV, is coming to my village to meet them and work with them in building their capacity and skills in business management, etc. My girls camp...THANK HEAVENS...also ended. I completed another 2 weeks of the camp and then we had the closing ceremony.
I loved doing the camp, don't get me wrong. I will say that it was at times the most stressful and frustrating thing in the world. Burkinabe are anything but reliable when it comes to saying they are going to do something. I had a last minute cancellation from the nurse at the hospital for my womens roundtable, and the teacher that was supposed to come never showed up. So, my roundtable consisted of 2 people...a secretary and a HIV/AIDS specialist. An hour later the Manager of the Caisse showed up...so it was a little dissappointing. Then the guy who was supposed to help me with composting just decided he didn't want to do it and not tell me...so in about 5 minutes I had to pull together a Fuel Briquette formation for my environment group. But, as I have said countless times before...somehow, someway...it always works out. The Fuel Briquette training was a huge success...and the most fun activity I did thus far...sometimes tons of planning doesn't always make a difference. Here is a couple pics of the girls doing the briquettes:
It was a major stress for me to plan an event like this...up until this point I had hit up against cultural barriers...but nothing like this. Their rules/cultural regulations regarding parties (or "fetes" as they call them) and who you invite, what you serve, how much you serve, etc. is UNBELIEVABLE! I had to invite every major figure in our village, which skyrocketed the price of the party...it is a domino effect...you invite one person and you have to invite another, until I had a 60 person guest list. I wanted the girls to feel special, and feel that the community cared about this event...and I think I achieved that. We killed 11 chickens, and had TONS of rice, and cokes (yes...cokes...in Southern that means it could be any drink...Sprite, Fanta, Coke, whatever) for everyone. I definitely lost my patience more than once, and felt taken advantage of because I am the "white" girl...but you know what...I had the money, everyone enjoyed themselves, and in the end I threw a party for 60 people and spent about $85 USD...not bad. Here is a picture of the girls after they had received their certificates:
Now, I am at a bit of a break in my work, and getting ready to be out of my village for quite a while. I will be in village for a couple of weeks, including several days of hosting some trainees in my village so they can get the "vrai" village experience. After that I pack my stuff and leave village for good for 6 weeks! I will spend a week at the training center, board a plane to the USA...WOO HOO, and then after arriving back in Burkina I will spend another week and a half with the trainees as they prepare to swear in and move to their sites. So...I leave my village Oct. 21st and don't get back until Dec. 14th!!! To be honest, I am not all that happy about it, considering that my work comes to a complete halt...but, I am excited about visiting home and helping with the new trainees...so my village will survive. I have a lot of ideas for small projects to start in my village when I get back: A school garden to supplement their canteen lunches, a girls soccer club, an after-school study program for girls, a business management workshop, and of course their is always Shea butter kickin' around. I hope to bring home lots of samples for you all to try!
Anyways, otherwise, all is well. I am battling yet another case of Staph infection, and trying to make a decision on my marathon hopes. Right now my ankle is swollen like a grapefruit, and I am battling with my stubborness on what to do. I will keep you posted. EITHER WAY, I will be home on October 31st ready to visit and take in as much of America as I can. I miss you all...and I will see you soon! Stay close!