Since a week I am back in Burkina. There were several reasons for this extra trip. Gert Kuijper from the institution Impulsis was visiting Burkina. Impulsis is supporting us since nine years and this was the first time they came to check on our programs and its realizations. Also Bertrand from the association A Petits Pas is visiting Burkina early December. A Petits Pas works with us since five years and Bertrand visits Burkina twice a year, but not at the same time of the year as me. We both felt it was good to have a common visit, because some villages are using us against each other, telling Bertrand that Hervé has promised things and the other way around. Désiré, our local director, is there to make sure there is a common message from A Petits Pas and A.S.A.P., but the villages see two possibilities and it is not easy for Désiré to control everything.
A Dutch friend Caspar joined me for this two week trip. Monday and Tuesday we visited all the nine villages with Gert. We did not warn the villages of our visit. At this time of the year all the adults are in the fields for the harvests, so the only activity in the village is at the primary schools.
It is nice to see the schools as they are every day. We did not have any surprises, but you can feel the difference of atmosphere between the schools. This school year there are 2.600 children in the primary schools of the nine villages where we work. In the older schools, you can see that the parents send fewer children to school than in the past. After primary school children are attending rural secondary schools which are very bad. Most children do not finish secondary school and go back home. However they are now educated a little, and the boys who come don’t always want to work in the fields anymore, and the girls do not want to accept a husband chosen by their family. For the parents this is reason to no longer send there younger children to primary school.
Another remark concerns the girls. Often these girls are taken out of primary school after three or four years. In earlier years there were more girls in the schools than boys, but in the last years this is no longer the case.
On Wednesday Gert went to visit the environmental organization Yanta in Bobo Dioulasso; we accompanied him, which was very interesting. Some of the forests in the vicinity of Bobo were cut down by women so that they could sell the wood. They did not have other means to make money for their families. This caused a lot of problems since the cutting of the wood was done illegally and there were a lot of conflicts with the authorities. To change this Yanta proposed to women an alternative: the women were to protect the forest. For this they planted cashew nut trees and they process the nuts. They have added some activity with shea nuts and with manioc. Yanta now has 31 groups with a total of 2.000 women. The project is supported mainly by Luxembourg and is managed by a person paid by Yanta. The difficulty will be to capacitate the group so that they can take over all the tasks when the support of Luxembourg stops in 2011.
Thursday was an office day with discussion on the future of our model farm which until today has not achieved its objectives.
Friday was Tabaski, a Muslim feast 90 days after the end of the Ramadan. Not a good time for the sheep. With Caspar we went to the “Guingette”. This is a place about fifteen kilometers from Bobo were there are a lot of springs. In the colonial time, it was a place where people came to dance. There are huge trees and with the water springs the area is rather cool. Most of the water of Bobo comes from those springs.
Saturday we went fishing in the Black Volta River. We went with some local people. It took us over two hours to reach the river. It is a very nice place with a lot of small fishes which are not very easy to catch with a big hook and a big worm. We did catch a few and even with the long ride, it was very relaxing.
Sunday we went to the town of Banfora. First to visit the local water falls and then to visit the 38 children in boarding schools there. A teacher from the village of Sokourani came with us, since one of its ex pupils was not doing well at all we were told.
lt;p>The overall results at the boarding school are good. I had a conversation with each of the children. While I was interviewing them, Caspar was entertaining them, make them sing, dance… Caspars French is very limited as is the kids’ English, but they managed to communicate.
We first visited the 16 boys. They are all score above the average, even the boy whom we were told was doing poorly. It is not fantastic, it seems that he has more difficulties than the others to adapt to the system of secondary school. All of the boys look healthy and happy.
For the girls, the results of the ones who have started this year are not very good. Not a disaster, but they will need to be followed up closely.
One of the girls in the second year has very poor results while she was fine last year. With the help of the teacher who was with us, we found out that her tutors in the village (her parents are in Ivory Coast) wanted to marry her to an old man. We can understand her trouble. All in all the group of 22 girls seems to be strong, happy and healthy.