Back in Burkina since one week. Eugénie will be joining me beginning February with Yvonne and Fred (her sister and brother in law).

First some information about the country.

Beginning of December there were parliamentary and municipal elections. It went rather smoothly. There are some districts, which will have a rerun, in Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso, due to fraud. One of the opposition parties managed to become second to the party of the president. Is this going to change something? Next election will be the presidential one in 2015. The president in place cannot be candidate, but will he change the constitution? If he does not do that, he better make sure that he has immunity before he steps down. 2014 will be an interesting year. Hopefully still peaceful.

Outside of Burkina, the situation in Mali is not very pretty. Between the traffickers of all sorts (arms, drugs), the Islamic extremists and the people with some legitimate claims it is difficult to separate them. Some of them are probably the 3 types, depending of the situation.

Since the take over of the North of Mali by those rebels, there have been a lot of refugees coming to the neighboring countries. For Burkina they are mainly in the North. They are received by the UNHCR. This means that they get food and health care. At the same time the local people who are rather poor do not get any help. This starts to create some tensions.

Some of the refugees have come with their animals (cows, sheep). This creates even more tension with the local population since water resources are not plenty there. The food regime of the refugees is mainly meat and milk. UNHCR is given them rice and corn??? This is or sold on the local markets, or the young adults from the refugee families who are among the rebels, come at night to pick it up to take it back into Mali. They hide their weapons in what they call cemeteries: arms are hidden in the sand this makes small hills, looking like a cemetery.

So far we have not seen or felt any safety issues in Burkina. Since the French have got involved in Mali, the French school and consulates in Burkina have gotten special protection from the army. You can still see white people going around in the cities. It is clear that it might not be appropriate to go the North of Burkina.

How this will evolve? Who knows? The Sahara desert is very big and has probably a lot of underground resources. Very difficult to control, but valuable if you control it. If you add to that the political situation in each of the various countries that can or want to use this to their advantage, it could become a very long story….

Most of the activities of this week were concentrated in office work. Friday was a holiday, “Mouloud” (birthday of Mohamed). This was good for paper work.

The only outing we did was to go to the LAP, our private agricultural school, to follow up on the construction of the girls' foyer.

The construction is very well done, but the disappointment comes from the fact that it was supposed to be opening beginning of January and that now it will open only beginning of March. The contractor has had a lot of difficulties to find workers. Most of the young adults prefer to go for gold panning. A worker employed by our contractor earns 1.200 CFA per day (€ 1,83) plus food, but living conditions are not the best. Panning is more risky for your health but can be bringing much more cash if you are lucky. The contractor seems also tight with cash and continuity on the work is not always there.

Below are some pictures of the buildings of the foyer. Still not out of the ground are the toilets / showers, clothes washing area, kitchen/storage and the surrounding wall/fence.

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Refectory / study hall Dormitories
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Houses for the supervisors

We have also added one vegetable garden and one chicken coop for the second group of students. The production of vegetables is doing very well. Last school year in one garden they have collected 700 kg of vegetable in 6 months' time.

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The 2 vegetable gardens, new one at the back

We had the first chicks out. We had some surprise. The rooster decided to kill the chick so we had to change him! Then another hen was also killing the chicks when coming out of the shelves. Strange behavior!

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The new rooster First chicks

Beginning of January we finally got a sow and a male “great white” pig. The male is only 3 months old and the female was inseminated before coming to the LAP.

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The young male The sow

More work for the students to feed them and clean the piggery.

On the studies side, the results of the first quarter are out. No time yet to analyze them.

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Running water is a reality at the LAP with a 10m3 water tower.

Touareg proverbe :

Lorsque quelqu'un te blesse, tu devrais l'écrire sur le sable afin que le vent l'efface de ta mémoire, mais lorsque quelqu'un fait
quelque chose de bon pour toi, tu dois l'écrire sur la pierre afin que le vent ne l'efface jamais

When someone hurts you should write it in the sand so that the wind erases it from your memory, but when someone does something good for you, you have to write in stone so that the wind cannot delete it.

Until next week.

Amitiés, Hervé

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