First some news about Hortense. She came out of the medical clinic on Wednesday. The pus is coming less that before. However, a check up on Saturday shows still too much pus coming out for the taste of Eugénie. But she is eating very well and is also regaining some strength.
This week was busy as usual. We visited the villages of Kwekwesso and Oualana for our “standard speech” about change of mentality, village organization and what ever the villagers want to talk about. We also went back to Sokourani for a meeting with primary school teachers and in the afternoon with the farmers.
The meeting in Kwekwesso was very interesting. We had learned before our visit that there was some problem between one teacher and some young people of the village. The young teacher had seduced a girl from the village who had also a boy friend in the village. There were some angry talks between the 2 boys. The teacher left the village for the end of the year vacation. On December 31st, his house was broken into and his belonging were destroyed in a near by field. Police came and on the word of the teacher took 2 boys from the village. Because there was no proof it was them, they were released and came back to the village. When he saw this the teacher did not feel safe and since over a month he has not been back in Kwekwesso.
ThevillageofKwekwessois very animist. A lot of fetishes there. The elders had told that they would be able to find the person who did it using their power. The teacher had told them that he had stronger power than them and that he was going to call the lightening (“appeler la foudre”). This is a very bad thing to say to people who believe in those types of things. Actually talking to many people here, they all believe in the power of the fetishes. Anyway, you understand that after such a menace, he will probably never go back to this village.
We started the meeting by asking them how were things in Kwekwesso. Everything ok they said. Then we ask them about the school and then with some hesitation they told us that everything was fine with the school. We then confronted them and slowly things opened up after we explained one more time that it is better to go straight to the point instead of turning around. The discussion was interesting since some of the people in the audience were probably involved one way or the other. We all believe that after our departure there was more discussion and with some proper steps taken to reimburse the teacher of the broken belongings and with the set up of a guard from the village at the school. The other teachers (women) who have houses at this school are scared after what happened and have moved out to houses at the other school from the same village.
Problem of leadership in this village on the men’s side is very obvious. The old chief is putting younger men in charge who do not have any capacity. In a meeting in Bobo end of the year we had thought them the word “NO”. This word does not seem to exist in the African vocabulary. I told one of those young men that it was going to rain (this is the dry season) and ask him what he thought. He answered what I wanted to hear and that it was going to rain. We try 5 times and even if everybody was telling him to say “NO”, he could not do it.
Wise man from Kwekwesso
Women side of the meeting
Child not very interested by our talk
Women from Kwekwesso
The meeting in Oualana was quieter. In the past 2 weeks 2 young children (1 and 2 years old) had died. We do not know from what. We are going back there coming Tuesday and we will investigate.
In this village the grinding mill funded by Tineke about 8 years ago is still not fully paid back. Problem between the women, problem with the miller, problems, problems… There was relief when we told the women that if they could not manage the mill, best might be to sell it.
Wise man from Oualana
After this meeting we had a gathering of the albinos of whom there are a lot in this area. We get sun cream from stichting albinos in The Netherlands. Sun cream helps to protect their skin against sun burn. We have also got some sunglasses. We have distributed them, but they have problem to keep them on. When they go into their house they cannot see, so they take them out and forget to put them back on. In some other cases, sunglasses are stolen by their brothers or friends. At least we do not hear the horrible stories that you hear fromUganda. What is strange however is that some near by villages do not have albinos? Most of those villages have common parents, why not those villages?
Meeting with the albinos
Thursday we had our first meeting with the teachers of 4 primary schools which we support. One of the objectives of the meeting was to make them realize the importance of their work in the village. We made them realize the cost of this inefficient school system due to the children abandoning school and the low rate of success at the end exam. The cost for a successful child in public school is higher than in a private school !!!! We also told them that since the retirement plan in Burkina is based on the fact that active people pay for retired people, they better make sure that a lot of their students are successful if they want some retirement benefits. This was a big surprise for all of them.
The second objective was to propose some improvement in their living conditions. Teachers in the villages do not have electricity. For lecture preparation and correction of homework, they often use petrol lamps which are very bad for their eyes and rather expensive. The proposition we have for them is to install all the cables, lamps, switches and regulator in the house from the school and they have to buy themselves the battery and the solar panel at a reduced price. Since the battery is what needs maintenance and the solar panels are very often stolen or broken, it will be the teacher’s responsibility to take care of them. They liked this offer very much.
Finally we wanted to be able to select who were the best teachers and to reward them. After a long discussion they have come to the conclusion that they can
not make the selection. They proposed instead to select the best school. This year it will be based on the results on the last year exam, but we will include next year the school maintenance, the quality of the school garden, the use of the library. May be some other criteria will be added. The teachers of the best school will get free computer training during their vacation.
In the afternoon we spent almost 4 hours discussing with the farmers about the agricultural social business. It was a very intense discussion, but also very interesting. Farmers, ma be more than normal people, are afraid of changes. It takes a lot to make them understand and believe in a new concept. We believe we have achieved our goal. Let wait to see hoe they come back to us.
Meeting with farmers, but women are there to hear what is happening
Meeting with farmers, but women are there to hear what is happening
Another week before we get back to theNetherlands. There is a lot of work to be done this coming week.
Flowers along the road
Hope you are all well.