Second week of this trip.

The rainy season seems to have started at last. We had 2 nice rains during this week and you can se people really busy in the fields.

For farmers it is always a dilemma to decide when to seed. They are waiting for the first rains to work their land. Those rains are not always coming at the same period. We have been measuring the rain falls in our farm in thevillageofMogobassoand we can see a big variation in the start and end of the rainy season as shown in the graph below. 

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Most of the cultures take between 80 to 120 days from seeding to harvest. If the farmers seed too early, there is a chance that a long period passes before the following rain. If he waits too long to seed, he will have problem if the rainy season is short.

Last year the farmers who seeded early June were the winner. This year because of a long period without rain, those farmers have a problem. They have to start reseeding if they can.

We are already the 18 July and for the type of corn they have and for cotton, the reseeding is almost too late. However they will still do it. The yield they will get will be low (half of normal).

In 2 villages we asked them why they will reseed cotton for cotton and corn for corn, when other culture less sensitive for rain might bring them more cash. For example if they seed sesame they can get at least 150.000 cfa (23 euro) from one hectare, with this cash they can buy 15 bags of corn at harvest time. If they reseed corn they will get a maximum of 10 bags of corn, for cotton they will have a harvest which will bring about 100.000 cfa just what is needed to pay back the inputs which they have got from the cotton company. 

Even if the sesame is better and in both villages they all agree to it, they will not seed sesame!!! Their main problem is that they cannot manage cash. What comes in the pocket is gone very fast and is not used to buy corn or pay back the loan o the cotton company. Difficult may be to understand, but it is so. We have not yet found the right way to change their attitude. They also all agree that the women are much better in handling cash. When we tell them that they should give the cash to their wife, men laugh and say:  “no way”. We still have to work on this.

In our farm in Mogobasso, we have some difficulties with goats from the villages. They find the young sprouts of corn very tasty. Karim spoke to the village chief several times without success. In all the other villages, around July 1st, all goats and sheep are tied up. Since we did not have reaction from the chief, we wrote a letter to the local mayor and he said that on Monday he will take some actions. The villagers knew of our letter.

This Saturday, while we were in a neighboring village, we saw a pick up with police passing by. They were besides other things checking the situation of the animals in the village. It had nothing to do with our letter, but the villagers of Mogobasso did not know about that. Immediately almost all the goats were tied up. They must thing that we have good connection to have the police reacting so fast.

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                                                                                               Villagers

On Monday we visited Kofila. In this village we have a nursery school. The leader of the school is from the village. One of the reasons for the visit was to ask him (Ellias) to move to a new nursery school we are opening in thevillage ofNefrelaye. Ellias is a bit soft and he is dominated by the women working in the nursery school. Because he is from the village he has a tough time to say something to them. As he says, I do not get respect. We hope that he will be able to get respect in this new school. He has also an advantage, he his the only trained person who can speak Moré the language of the people of Nefrelaye. The new trained person who will take the school in Kofila has just got out of the 2 years training to become “monitrice de la petite enfance”. She is rather tough and determined. I am sure she will be able to control the school assistants who had a bit of a free ride last year.

We have found out several times that it is almost impossible for somebody to work professionally in his own village. The constraints of his family and the other villagers make it almost impossible to be successful. A foreigner has a better chance to make something change in the village than the villagers themselves.

The most successful people are the “foreigners” (not from the village or not from the same ethnical group). They can say what they think. This also exists in the professional world. It is easier for a non Burkinabé to be successful than for a Burkinabé. He has fewer constraints and people would listen better to him.

On the way back to Bobo, we stopped in Bona to see the progress of the school extension and 3 houses for teachers we are building there. It was impressive to see the motivation of the young people from the village helping in the construction. Each day 20 people have to report to the site to provide manpower. If a person does not come one day, he is fined 1.000 cfa (1,5 euro), if he does not come at all, they go and get a goat or sheep from him which they eat at the school site. We came the day when there was a goat to eat. We saw very a very happy and enthusiastic group of people. The school will be completed by mid August.

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                                                         The 3 houses under construction                                                                
                                                                                                                                             
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The old and the new school  

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                                                                                           Happy villagers in Bona

Tuesday we had a meeting with the directors of the schools we are supporting. We wanted to discuss with them possible solution to improve the very poor results of this year. It was a good meeting from which the main difficulties come from the fact that children cannot duplicate a school year. All children have to move forward, teachers are missing for long period of time and the new teachers have a very low level of training.

The reason why children do not duplicate a level comes from the subsidies that the government gets from the World Bank based on the number of children starting the first year of primary school. Nobody cares about how many come out with a proper education.

All new teachers know that they will have to spend sometime in the rural school. Our villages are isolated but not too far from the city Bobo Dioulasso. Many women teachers are assigned to those areas (in Kofila school had 5 women out of 7 teachers). Nothing wrong with this besides the fact that they are very often in maternity leave without any replacement (in Kofila 3 teachers were on maternity leave in a particular year).

When we trained somebody 2 years to be a teacher in a nursery school, the government trained teachers for 6 months for primary school!!!!!! Since all those new teachers are coming in rural areas, the gap between education level in the country side and the cities increase every year. This training period was reduced from 2 years to 6 months 5 years ago. The effect of this change appears now.

This explains a large part of the poor results. We will try to help find solutions to all those difficulties. We cannot change the rule of the government for duplicate level, so we will have to make sure that most of the children have the level to go further. The only way to do this will be to do some extra tutoring to the children. For the presence of teacher in front of the class, we will help by providing replacement teachers when needed. For the level of training of the teacher the inspectors can organize some training on voluntary basis at their level with resource people from their schools.

This will need some motivator for the teachers to attend those training and to do the extra tutoring. The only motivator here is cash. Since we will be able to have the level of the class at the beginning and at the end of the year we will give some incentive based on results.

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Two of the directors during the meeting

Thursday we visited thevillageofOualana, they are a bit late with repayment of a loan. We had a good discussion and what was nice is that they proposed us an acceptable repayment schedule.

Saturday we want to thevillageofSokourani. In this village a group of villagers do not seem to want to pay their loans. The village leaders went to the police to ask for help. Here the police act as a debt collection agency. The person who owned money is asked to come to the police station where he might be sent to jail for a couple of days. He is then asked to come back with the cash or with a plan for payment. If he does not come at the first convocation, he is asked again to come. If he comes he has 5 days in jail and then he has to come with the cash or a plan. If he does not come, the police go and get him and then I am not sure how it works…

In this village we are finalizing the extension of the school. Construction will start next week. The contractor was there so that we could choose the place where the last house will be built.

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                                                                        Discussion on the site for the house

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                                                                       Only one class to be completed

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                                                                        Alice                                           Te

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                                                                                    Foussita
Alice and Foussita are scholarship holders going to start their 4thyear secondary school in September. Te is our new teacher for nursery school.

I will leave you with some pictures taken by Hennie.

Until next week

Hervé

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                                                           Happy girls in Nefrelaye

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                                                            Look for the bird

Blijf op de hoogte van onze ontwikkelingen!