Back in Burkina after 4 months for 4 weeks.

Hennie (from our supervisory board) is with me. It will be interesting to see what he thinks about our activities here. His last trip was 4 years ago. In the last week we will have also the visit of Arend (board member). For him it will be his first trip to Burkina, even more interesting to see his reactions.
Désiré (our local director) is on vacation and will come back to Burkina with Arend.

As usual we landed inOuagadougouon Sunday evening. On Monday morning we visited the artists who realize the bronze statues we are selling in The Netherlands. A week before my departure I received a mail from the USA about a statue made by an artist Dermé Morou (He passed away several years ago, but his son Ali has taken over the atelier of his father). Actually as the oldest son, he has also to take care of the other 40 children and 5 wives of his father!!!!

The person in theUSwanted to know if we could find information about this statue. When I showed the pictures to Ali, he recognized it immediately and went under a pile of stuff to extract almost the same statue also made by his father. Why I am saying all this, you are going to ask?

Well look at the picture of the statue. It is the representation of the way mother were giving an enema (“lavement” for the French speaking) to their child inAfrica. Interesting isn’t it?

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After 5 hours of bus on Monday afternoon we arrived in Bobo Dioulasso. For the new people receiving this letter, we have our own house in Bobo and this makes it very easy to settle down.

Some info about our local office. Beginning of the year the team of ASAP Burkina was made up of Desire and of Mamina. Mamina was taking care of the women projects and Desire of about everything else. She had a one year contract and we decided not to renew it. Instead we have now with us Karim who is supervising all farmers’ projects. It is not very easy to build a competent team, but we are getting there. Karim has paid his studies from the revenue of his own farm and I think that his determination will be very good. We have also one driver and 2 guards for the office.

On Tuesday we started with meetings to discuss the karité project, the reforestation program for 2010, the secondary school project and to gather the results of the primary schools of the 9 villages were we are active.

In 2009 the average success for the exam at the end of the primary school was 72% for the 9 schools, this year a pitiful 44%!!!! Most of the rural areas have bad scores, it is much better in town.

I have already met the 2 inspectors who are supervising those schools. The schools are from the ministry of education and there is little we can do directly. For both of them the problems comes from the lack of teachers (classes without teachers for up to 6 months), seniority of the teachers in the country side (older teachers do not want to be assigned in a place where there is no electricity, no running water..) and lack of motivation of the teachers. I would add that the role of the inspectors is also not to be forgotten.

On Tuesday of the coming week, we will have a meeting with the 9 directors of the schools to discuss the causes of such results and how to help improve them. This year is the first year when they made a test in all the classes to measure their level. This will be a good base for discussion. I hope we will be able to set up a good plan for the coming year.

For the reforestation program we are planning to distribute (against a small fee) 20.000 trees. Some of them will be for delimitation of infrastructures such as primary school, maison de la femme, nursery school (neem and cassia) others to make hedge around the fields (cassia, melina) and fruit trees (mangos, anachardier, baobab, orange and lemon trees).

Some of the trees have been grown in our farm situated in thevillageofMogobasso.

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Small Gmelina trees                                                                                     Small Baobab

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

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 Small cassia

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Remy (our farmer) with a papaya tree planted one year ago.

For the karité project (Burkinakarité) we are trying to see a possible evolution towards an independent business of social nature. Today ASAP is doing too much for Burkinakarité and the size of this organization as well has its level of education does not allow it to be competitive and sustainable without ASAP. We are in contact with the organization SNV which has contact with other groups of women having the same problem. The idea is to have a new business started around the karité offering an output for karité nuts collected or buter produced by women associations. What interest the women at the end is not how do we get the better price, but how much and when. This social business would be protecting the interest of the women, but it would also be a quality supplier to its customers. Its size would allow the recruiting of competent people and investment in equipment needed to mechanize some of the production. It is a challenging project.

On Saturday we went to visit thevillageofSissa. The farmers are late with a loan from 2002 and we have been told many stories abou
t the coming payment. In 2009 they also did not reimburse part of their debt for our fertilizer project (farmer gets 3 bags of fertilizer and 15kg of certified seeds of corn and he has to pay us back 6 bags of 100kg of corn). We told the villagers that we are stopping all collaboration with the farmers of this village until we see concrete signs of their will to pay us back. In addition we told them that if they did not react quickly, we would be stopping all activities with the village. This was a bit of a surprise and we hope that we will see some reaction.

To reach this village we have to go through another of our village called Nefrelaye. They are also a bit late in repayment, but always manage to pay us back. Since the visit in thevillageofSissawas short (only one hour when we normally stay at least 3 hours), they were puzzled. Mobil telephone works. We were not back in Bobo for a few ours that a delegation of Nefrelaye came to see us to pay part of their debt and to tell us that they had organized a meeting the same evening to put pressure on the farmers late with payment. At least we have already some indirect consequence of our visit and message to Sissa. 

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Nursery school ofNefrelaye just built

 Sunday it was the turn of Mogobasso. Same situation, but stronger message: we stop all activities with the village until they have put their act together. We have talked with them so many times that we had to take some actions. They did not seem to believe what was happening, especially since the decision includes the stop of our support to the nursery school and the school. They have a lot problem between families in this village and it is very difficult for them to confront somebody. While waiting to have the ok to go away, Karim received a call from one of the farmer who had attended the meeting (he was hiding behind a house) to tell him that we have to bring the farmers who do not pay to the police.  It is funny how the mobile telephone helps people express themselves without being noticed. We will see how things goes further.

It is now the rainy season. Farmers and their family are getting busy in their fields. The schools are also closed. This season start normally around mid June and last until beginning of October. In 2009 it started rather early but finished also early. The farmers who seeded their field early had a good harvest. The ones who waited end of June had a poor harvest. In 2010, rains came also early June so a lot of farmers seeded early. But for at least 3 weeks in June, there was no rain!!!! Only farmers in the low ground are ok, the others have to reseed their land. Hopefully this year rains will last until beginning of October.

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Children and old man in the fields

At the end of the year, there will be big celebration of the 50th anniversary of independence in Bobo Dioulasso. They are working on the all the roads in Bobo at the same time without coordination. It is a big mess. Some people are saying that the contractors working on the roads “stopped” the rain so that their work would be easier. “Stopped” means making some sacrifice of a few chickens at the right place by the right people!!!

Another story in the same line. Two of our scholarship holders did not have good grades after the first trimester. The father of one told him that it was because some people had tied up his brain, but that he was going the proper sacrifice to free him. This boy got a much better grade on the second trimester. The second boy then came to us and asks us to help him with some money because his father did not have enough to make the same sacrifice. We did not help him and his grade staid low. What will happen if the first boy has bad grades again??? What would have happened if we had helped the second boy???

This will be all for this time. Time to get ready for the world cup match. Hup Holland!!!

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Not only Hennie but also a lizard is supporting Holland

Until next week
Hervé

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