Fourth week of this trip to Burkina. The 3rd week ended sadly with the death of one of our students at the LAP (private agricultural school).
Taking action helps not to think too much. Following this death we tried to find out what was its cause. Taking into account that local health personnel do not want to spread the news that there is meningitis in the area, we could not get direct information on the cause of the student's death. Only by crossing some information from different sources, we concluded that there was 90% chance that it was meningitis. During the week end, we have decided to vaccinate all the children at the LAP, all our personnel and all the children with a scholarship in the schools in Banfora. We were able to negotiate the price of the vaccination to a bit less than € 10 per person. ASAP staff can also pay for the vaccination of their family at this price.
Solange giving the shot and Yvonne (Eugénie's sister) comforting the children
Solange busy with the vaccinations
Fred (brother in law) showing pictures to the kids Laughing after the shots
Wednesday and Thursday we had meetings with the population of the village of Sokourani. The meeting was about leadership and we were using the Appreciative Inquiry Method (AI).
Basically the idea is to have the villagers going from a phase of Discovery (do you remember good leaders) to a phase of Dream (what type of leaders do we want), to a phase of Design (how can we make this happen) to a phase of Destiny (planning of the activities to actually make it happen).
Since we are talking to a group of mostly analphabet people, we use a lot of drawing and a minimum of writing. The 2 days of work confirmed the dominance of one chief who told the crowd that he had all the qualities we had listed to be a good chief. We asked the people what they thought and a few comments made it clear to the leader that he was not as perfect as he thought.
When we met on the second day he had himself seen some additional shortcomings to his perfect score as a leader. This day we asked them to write down a profession of faith for the village. They wrote down: “In 3 months the village will be united and will have transparent leaders”. We will make a streamer of this sentence and place it at the center of the village in French and in local language. This should remind them about their profession of faith.
Since this is not really concrete goal, we will work on specific projects needed by the village looking with them at what resources they have, what resources they miss, where can they find them and they will have to prepare a document with timing and responsibilities.
We did this work in 2 days and we realize that 3 days is really what is needed if we want to do a good job.
The attendants of the AI meeting
To direct the meeting, we asked Lido (left) who is a specialist to help. Odile on the right was translating
Some other view of the crowd and children
On the second day we were asked to stay for a private meeting with some of the leaders. They wanted to talk about a project we had been talking to the villages for at least 5 years. This was an idea of William.
Villagers are always solicited to pay for something: school fees, cash to repair the pumps, funds for funerals, medical center consultation fees…. Since in the village people do not trust each other (for good reasons), fees are very difficult to come by.
The idea is to make a budget of the school, of the repair of pump, of the costs of medical consultation, of other work needed in the village (road repair, erosion protection…). All those budgets are added to see what funds are needed. This is then divided by the total number of people living in the village. This gives a sort of yearly village contribution per head. Then the school is free, the consultations are directly paid by the village, there would be funds to repair the pumps and to do other budgeted work. In order to go over the trust problem between people, a bank account at the local bank would be opened and ASAP would be the auditor of this account.
Back to Sokourani leaders. They had decided that they wanted to start with this project. So we have now to write down the way it will have to be implemented, what type of controls are needed to make sure it works. We already know that people who were used to take out money out of the village will not be happy and they will try to sabotage this project. But it is worth trying to make it work.
A calao bird seen along the road trying to pick up a nut
On Sunday we went to visit the 52 children in Banfora who have a scholarship with us. For this visit, the girls had cooked a lunch for the whole crowd. Not easy, but they managed very well.
Because of the meningitis situation, we also vaccinate all the children, same as at the LAP.
Karamoko, tutor of the children, also being vaccinated.
We had decided not to talk too much about academic subjects and instead to play some games. Yvonne (sister of Eugénie) had the good idea to bring with her some inflatable balloons. The children had never seen such a thing before. We made teams and they had to make a relay race with the balloon between their heads. They had a lot of fun. We had too. After the vaccination, this was a big releasing moment.
Children with balloon between their heads
The winning team
This ended a very busy but very rewarding week.
Si un animal vous dit qu'il peut parler, il ment probablement.
If an animal tells you he can talk, he is probably lying.
Take care of yourselves and stay healthy.