We are investing time and money in villages in Burkina for almost 15 years! We understand that there is a lot of questions on the efficiency of the investment made for development: inefficiency, corruption… Another major problem is measurement of results. Some are easy (number of kids in school) some are not (how many kids are not in school?).

This week we went to the village of Nefrelaye where we started to invest in 2004. It is nice to be able to see the impact of our work.

The biggest impact we can see is difficult to quantify, since it is the change of mentality. For example farmers take only 2 years versus 5 (at least) in other villages to apply some agricultural technics which they have learned during training we have given them. This is true for the culture of peanuts to diversify from cotton and this year about the way to seed the sesame which will give them 50% more yield.

Field od sesame from a farmer who has followed the advice of Karim our specialist 1Field od sesame from a farmer who has followed the advice of Karim our specialist Field od sesame from a farmer who has followed the advice of Karim our specialist 2

Also in the change of mentality is the way people react in our meeting. At the beginning they would be only a few people if something had not be done that they had promised. Thanks to our appreciative method, they do not have problem to face their responsibilities and  they are not afraid to explain what has happened and propose a solution.

Women and men from Nefrelaye 1Women and men from Nefrelaye Women and men from Nefrelaye 2

We have opened a nursery school one year ago in this village, the impact of this type of school is also incredible not only on the children, but also on the adults and in the relation between men and women. Children can play in the school. This looks very trivial, but at home kids very seldom play. Everybody is busy with something. The mood of the children have changed, they are happy. This influence the mood of the parents. Some fathers probably are not prepared to have kids asking them questions and singing in the yard, they will learn. Parents do not talk to their kids so they had no idea how much they can learn even so small. Because kids are taught about hygiene at school the parents also are washing their hands before eating.

The school fees for the nursery school is mostly paid by the mother. Fathers were very surprised about this. They told us that they were expected to be asked to pay the fees as they do for primary school. Because of this, the men are really supporting the nursery school and they even told us to be proud of the mothers.

Since no other villages around have this type of school, the villagers are very proud and this is also part of a positive drive in the village.

Children at the nursery schoolChildren at the nursery school Preparation of the “gouter”Preparation of the “gouter”

For the primary school we do have numbers and there is a steady increase of children attending the school.

School Year

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

Children in school

143

135

175

211

244

286

299

330

School children in Nefrelaye 1School children in Nefrelaye School children in Nefrelaye 2

Thanks to the microcredit we give to the women, they are able to have more income from their activities (payment of fees for the nursery school). On this last trip they have given cash to Désiré to buy cloth so that over 100 of them can make dresses to celebrate the nursery school.

Do not take me wrong, they still have  a lot of problem and are still struggling to have enough food and money for their needs. But the positive radiation coming out the village helps motivate most of the villagers and us too.

In the village of Kouekouesso, we have opened a nursery school this year. We hope that we will have also a large impact on the parents, especially on the hygiene part. This is a village where the people are not taking good care of their hygiene.

The change of mentality is not yet arrived in this village. Messages take a long time to sink in. One which is arrived is the need to put kids in school. There will be over 400 children in the 6 classes of their primary school. It is also the village which has the larger number of children attending our LAP (private agricultural secondary school).

To try to help them with this change of mentality, we have asked them to create a committee for this subject. The main points they want to work on are: togetherness of the village, conflict between generations, participation of the men in the infrastructure of the village. We will try to help them in given them methods for problem solving, then they will have to do their own work.

In our meeting, a woman we had never seen before stood up and started to express her frustration
to the men about their lack of participation in community work. Very impressive.

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For children with scholarship, we do not accept that they redo a level. Last year we have stopped 4 scholarships, one of the children was Apolinaire Millogo. On Wednesday we learned that he had died from a snake bite (again) in his village of Sokourani. Should we feel guilty? If he had been in school he would still be with us!!!!

Tuesday we had a meeting with the members of the karité project, Burkinakarité. It was not an easy meeting since we still have over 20T of shea butter in our storage. They are still very positive about the project, but at the same time they need cash, so a lot of the women have sold their shea nuts for € 0.15 per kg. Producing the butter would bring them more cash, but they have the uncertainty on when they would get it.

We will pass over this activity to the social business called “Musso ka Yiriwali So” or MKYS (aime kiss, nice for women). This will enable us to pay the women at time of delivery and also to diversify in other activities such as soap making where we can absorb some of the excess shea butter.

This year is a transition year and we are surveying the market for shea butter on the export market and soap on the local market.

Jean FrancoisJean Francois Delegates from the villagesDelegates from the villages

Finally this Sunday we went to the village of Fina. Fina is the  first village where we started in 1997. Because of problem with the leadership and repayment of credit with the village we have stopped our investment in 2003.

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In 2010 but especially in 2011 the men have made a big effort to start paying back their debt (after 8 years!!!). The purpose of the visit was to get a feeling about the village and talk about “change of mentality”. There was a lot of people to the discussion and we did not talk about problems, but specially about “attitude”. Together with Désiré and with Emmanuel we plaid some sketches on communication, talking the truth, transparency with money. We make them laugh, but they were laughing about themselves. Some of the situations are so true that the villagers want us to stop our demonstration.

It was nice to be back in this village and the fact to see some known old faces almost crying to see us help us into making it a very special day.

We made them some proposal to start again with some of the projects (lunch at school, credit for women). We will have to wait to see if they comply with their side of the agreement.

A not very focused Callao birdA not very focused Callao bird

It is the red bird againIt is the red bird again

Eugénie is arriving Tuesday. Nice!

Proverb of the week:  “Only a fool measures the depth of the water with both feet” (Seul un sot mesure la profondeur de l'eau avec ses deux pieds).

Have a good week.

Hervé

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