Saturday, August 27, 2011



These guys have been spotted on numerous occasions while biking out on brousse (out in the bush/woods). Every time I see them they are in this humongous swarm; all moving as one, all crawling on top of each other, all together. Haven't seen them anywhere else in the country... but I'm sure they're out there - lurking and overflowing with swarminess...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Measuring Success

I hope everyone remembers what kind of projects I mentioned in my last update and how I was sure these things would be completed within the short time frame of being home (aw. at site)...

So, I put my foot down and was determined to start, conquer and finish an accelerated HEARTH model: a workshop for mothers with moderately malnourished babies between the ages of 6 - 9 months which lasts for five to seven days meeting each morning to make enriched porridge and discuss certain
health related topics. phew!

I talked with my wonderful counterpart Allisone to get the ball moving and we decided to work with five women for seven days (we ended up working with four of the five women due to the fact that on the day of the baseline we found out one of the woman's baby was five months and couldn't participate in the program). These women all had babies between six and nine months of age. We started on a Friday (really, I suppose technically we started on the Thursday to obtain the baseline and weigh the babies) and continued until the following Thursday.

First two days: Nutrition; the three food groups (enérgetique, constructeur & protecteur), how to use them and why. We played a game to gage the women's comprehension of the lesson... it was fun. Then we talked about malnutrition and the two types prevalent here in Burkina Faso (Marasmus and Kwashiokor)

Next thing I know the women trick me into letting them off for a day (for church, of course, pff) and then they end up not showing up for two more consecutive days. Boo. The first morning after church I went to the maternity and waited there for about an hour until I finally went to their individual houses to see if they were there or not. Well, they were. I found Martine just making some tô for her family and when I asked what she was doing and why she hadn't come to the session she said "oh, we can just do it tomorrow right?" blargh. No! I found the other three women doing the same thing and I told all of them I'd be waiting for them at the maternity... they didn't show. The same event occurred the following day and as soon as I was about to call it quits the fourth day they all showed up... well, three women showed (hey, it's better than NONE!)

Fourth day: Family Planning; why it's necessary to take time off in-between birthing children, contraceptive options in Sourou (Depo Provera, male condoms and birth control pills), how to properly use a condom (all seven steps).

Fifth day rolls around and I'm pretty content on just having a five day formation now... it's better than nothing and it's at least something that I can work off when I get back from the tour. I wait at the maternity with high hopes of the women showing up on time, being interested in the discussion of family planning and making enriched porridge again...

an hour passes...

No one shows up. Take a breath. Okay. I guess they don't want to show up again. I'll come back again tomorrow - I won't give up on the workshop. The next day rolls around and the same thing happens and I'm completely deflated. One more day left and I ask myself if it's even worth staying in village to wait it out or just to go up to Ouaga or another village to help out another volunteer. I decide to stay.

New plans. I'll plant my mango trees (I bought three of them: one for the CSPS, one for the school and one for my family). I go to the CSPS Friday morning and plant the tree with Allisone. I also waited for the women to show up (I really wasn't expecting them to... but you never know)... they never did. So. Three disconnected days of a HEARTH workshop and one day of planting trees.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Okay, Now an Update

Here's an itty bitty update.

I went back to site two days ago for the first time in quite a while. It was amazing to be back. Everyone was extremely excited to see me; they all teased me about being gone for so long and, of course, asked me if I brought something back for them, but to my surprise it was all very nice. One of my moms helped me sweep out my dusty house (so nice!), the CSPS staff was genuine and listened to my future project plans (surprise), the marche ladies were ecstatic to have me back (and buy their food) and my favorite mom scolded me while shaking her finger and counting the weeks I've been gone, but immediately afterwards went through the whole spcheel of salutations.

I'm doing an accelerated HEARTH model starting Friday. It will be a week long formation with five women and their malnourished babies (between the ages of 7 - 10.5 months). We will meet each morning for an hour and a half to make enriched porridge and go over certain health topics: the lesson plan will break down as follows...

Thursday: Record Weight of Babies
Friday: Pre-Test, Nutrition. Lesson on Nutrition
Saturday: Lesson on Nutrition. Post-Test
Sunday: Pre-Test, Family Planning. Lesson on FP
Monday: Lesson on FP. Post-Test
Tuesday: Pre-Test, Malaria. Lesson on Malaria
Wednesday: Lesson on Malaria. Post-Test
Thursday: Final Test. Each woman will present something they learned over the past six days. Record weight of babies.

I'm really excited!!

I'll also be :

making some anti-mosquito cream with a group in a satellite village using natural, reusable ingredients.

teaching women how to make liquid soap

planting nine moringa trees and three mango trees

biking around

Once September rolls around I'll be biking all around the country. That's what the last post was about... please donate what you can so we have the funds to do projects like the ones listed above. I'll be participating in the entire tour - 23 days of non-stop biking. Whoo! It'll be quite a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it.

Until next time.
Take care.

Le Tour de Burkina

Second annual Bike Tour kicks off the 31st of August, 2011.

I'll copy and paste the informational letter here:

Dear Family and Friends of Peace Corps Burkina Faso,

Beginning August 31, 2011, Peace Corps volunteers from around Burkina Faso will be participating in Le Tour de Burkina, the second annual country-wide bike tour to raise money for Gender and Development projects in Burkina.

Gender and Development projects encompass a huge variety of volunteer projects, be they organizing a girls’ camp to promote self-esteem and goal setting or helping a women's group conduct an income generating activity. These are of critical importance in Burkina Faso and represent a significant component of each volunteer’s work. The Gender and Development (GAD) Committee exists to support volunteer-initiated, gender equity projects around Burkina Faso; with Le Tour de Burkina we hope to generate funds so the GAD Committee can give small-scale project grants and volunteers can continue the essential work of promoting gender awareness and equality in Burkina Faso. We’re proud to say that last year’s tour raised nearly $5,000 – enough to fund 35 GAD grants.

Please help us reach this year’s fundraising goal of $6,000 by visiting our blog and making a donation:

To be certain your donation reaches Gender and Development projects, be sure to specify
“GAD Gender and Development” in the Comments section.

In Burkina Faso, one dollar goes a long way, so even the smallest contribution will make a big difference. Follow the blog to learn more about the tour, which projects were funded last year, and to stay updated while we’re on the road.

This year we will be riding for 23 days, covering 1,700 kilometers (that’s the distance from New York City to Orlando), and passing by 32 volunteer sites. In addition to kicking off celebrations of Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary, the tour will increase awareness of Peace Corps Burkina Faso’s activities and reinforce the relationships within volunteers’ communities.

Thanks for your support!


Peace Corps Burkina Faso

Gender and Development Committee

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Non-Update

This is just to let everyone who is following my blog that I am truly sorry that I haven't written in a thousand and one years!! I've been busy with my personal life and my professional life. I'm planning on periodically updating this thing just as it comes to me. I will no longer take things from my journal - they seemed to be too personal... which some people may appreciate, but others may find TMI.


That's it.

Keep tuned in.
I promise I'll write something soon!!