ANYwhere: Burkina Faso

Hey Everyone! The volunteer who replaced me, DOUG is trying to get latrines for our village, Nakaba! It’s a wonderful project! Here is the link to the Peace Corps page, where you can read the project description and donate. He still needs about 2500.00 more! Here are some pictures to remind you of how awesome Nakaba is! (Benga(my DOG), My head nurse @ a meeting, and my girls planting trees!)

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ANYwhere: The final countdown..

Here it goes, I have 9 days left in village and 16 left in Burkina. For the last month I have been wishing away my days, so I could hurry up and leave. I spent Christmas in my old village of Nakaba. For three days I partied with friends, made promises to never forget them, and said my final good-byes. Christmas was a bitter sweet time to be saying good-bye, everyone was happy to be celebrating the birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, while I went from house to house to say “Au Revoir!” I tried to make it to every single house in Nakaba, but at the end of the day, it was way to much. I tired to keep a happy face, mostly because Burkinabe don’t like people who cry or are unhappy, but who knows if I will ever see these people again. My babies are going to grow up with out me.

The hardest part was leave my faithful comrade, Benga. My old boss, finally got a job transfer to the main hospital in Koupela. He had spent 10 years in Nakaba, when most nurses only spend 2 years. He took his whole family, and even the family dog, he asked me what I thought was best for my dog, and I told him,Benga should stay in Nakaba. He now resides at the house of the new head. The day I showed up, I went to meet the new nurse and before I even finish saying hello, Benga comes running down the path way,and if he had been bigger, he would of tackled me to the ground. We spent 3 great days together, and saying good-bye to someone who doesn’t respond was really hard. I know my village will take care of my dog, and Benga will be a great keeper of the hospital.

Here is something I wrote about my village of Nakaba, which no matter how I phrase it, it’s true:

“At the end of my two years in Nakaba, I know I helped change my community. I showed them how to combat their problems, by identifying and using their local resources. I may have been the push they needed, but they did the work themselves. During my service, this community showed me what it is like to be an agent of change.”

For what it is worth,Thank you Nakaba!

Now I’m in my other village, just hanging with the few friends I do have. These next weeks are going to go by so fast, I’m trying to savor everything. After I leave here, I’m in Ouaga for a week to finish up paper work,medical stuff, etc… which will be easy,since the hard part is already done!!

I’ll update one last time before I leave, and also while I am on my AWESOME SOUTH AFRICAN VACATION!

Mail:
Kirstin
Emerald
Mom

ANYWhere: 1 Month to go!!

*With just a little over a month left(35 days to be exact) left in Burkina. I have exactly a month left in village, and then a week in Ouaga to finish all my medical, and paper work. The end of my service is so close, but yet so far away. Hopefully things will start to pick up. Next week is my birthday, then Christmas, then New Years, and then I have 2 weeks left in village.

*As for village, I started to give away my stuff, writing my final reports, “closing up shop” as they say. I don’t have anything to do at work, so I spend most of my days reading books, packing, and hanging with my favorite 2 year old.  Overall, I’m bored, and ready to leave!!!

*I don’t have anything new to update, just wanted to send a little note to everyone who reads my blog.

ANYwhere:30 Days of Thanks and Fêtes!

So, September ended and now it’s November! My time in Burkina is coming to a close, I officially have 70 days  left of my Peace Corps Service. This is my favorite time of year in Burkina and it is going to go by really fast.

Let me recap on what’s been going on:

50th Anniversary Fair:
“In 2011, the Peace Corps will commemorate 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Join us in supporting the agency’s mission and legacy of service by honoring our past, demonstrating our effectiveness, and inspiring the next generation of Volunteers through education and engagement.”

In Ouaga we held a fair or expo on Peace Corps. Each volunteer would have a booth to showcase the work they have been doing with their villages. Some volunteers brought in their tailors, sold soap, etc. While other volunteers actually brought in their dance or theater groups. My association, Weog la Viim, had an informational booth.  We also had general booths explaining Peace Corps, and a time line of volunteers in Burkina. Overall the fair was a great success. We had many Burkinabe come. My association have a 30 minute presentation on Weog, explaining our role in the community and some of our major projects. It was 3 long days, but I feel my association benefited from the fair,a long with a little networking too!

Senegal:
The first week in October, I took a week vacation to Senegal. I went with another volunteer to visit our friend who is in PC Senegal. We stayed in Dakar for the whole week, only taking a day trip to another village. We flew from Ouaga to Dakar, with a short layover in Bamako, Mali.  Air Burkina is a really nice company, despite all that we heard prior to booking our ticket. Once arriving in Dakar, it was like being dropped into a downtown metro area. Despite being hassled by the taxi drivers, I didn’t feel like I was in West Africa at all. Each day was filled with swimming in the ocean, thanks to our friend, who lived only 2 blocks from the beach. We visited some of the “sights” Dakar had to offer. The trip was very relaxing, and much needed. I’m just sad that it had to end…. I added photos to my Pisca Album.

Between Senegal and now I took my GRE, which is by far one of the weirdest experiences in Burkina. I studied all day every day for two strait weeks, prior to the test, the day of the actually test I felt confident. When arriving at the American Language Center I really thought it would be filled with PC volunteers and maybe a few expats, but it was packed with Burkinabe! Most of them have been taking a weekly class to prepare for this test, and had current copies of the book, mine being outdated my 2 years.. The proctor showed up 2 hours late! After taking the test, I felt glad to have it over, but I realized this would never happen in the US. The whole point of a standardize test, is for everything to be the same, and I defiantly don’t feel the same, as if I would have taken it in the US. I guess I will know better next time.

November: The month of giving thanks, and parties!:
I started this month long party off with Halloween! I carved a watermelon, and asked children to come to my house to ask for candy. The children were more amused with why I carved a face into a watermelon, than why I wanted to finally give them candy. The next day was All Saint’s day. It is hugely celebrated here by the Christian population. I started the day off by going to church, then hanging out with my local dolo (local beer) lady. We went to a few houses to celebrate the holiday, were I continued to eat and drink. The next day was All Souls Day, and the church met at dusk at the cemetery to pray for the departed. It was a really cool experience. Seeing the power of pray, all these people huddles around the headstones, saying the rosary, as the sun is fading into the background.

The next Saturday was Tabaski.
A little history of Tabaski: People are expected to dress in their finest clothing to perform the prayer, in a large congregation in an open field, or mosque.They are asked to sacrifice their sheep or ram as a symbol of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son. The sacrificed animals, have to meet certain age and quality standards or else the animal is considered an unacceptable sacrifice. The meat from the sacrificed animal is divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the other third is given to the poor and needy.

I dressed up in my best MouMou and headed to prayer with my family. I didn’t actually pray, since I wanted to take pictures of the experience. After watching the slaughtering of the goat, my family went to the house of a holy man, to “start” the party. After that I went back to my house to finish helping the women prepare the food. Around 1pm I finally ate, and that started the tour of food, as my friend and I joked about. After excusing my self from my house, my friend and I went to 7 other houses that night. We covered everyone I worked with, along with some friends I made. We ate a lot of meet, and drank Fanta’s, while I passed out candy to the kids, only after making sure they knew my name. The night ended late and with a full stomach. The next day however is also acceptable wish people a happy Tabaski.  My house was full of people this weekend, and I have never ate so much in my life. I experience Tabaski once before while I was in training, but never have I got the full experience like I did this year. Needless to say I think I will be stuffed until Thanksgiving rolls around!

The next few weeks, are kind of lax. I don’t have much going on. I am going to be having a few new PC trainees at my site, and I have a small project I need to finish up. It will be a nice to regroup and exercise, before hitting Thanksgiving. I plan to eat as much Turkey as I can get! I’m going to have a small 3rd year Thanksgiving in Ouaga, then I was invited to another volunteers site to celebrate too!

I added photos of Senegal and some of the stuff I have been doing these past few weeks in my Pisca Web Album (link is posted to the right.)

Mail Received:
Aaron
Parents
Bethany
Tab