We are back in Burkina Faso with Eugénie for 4 weeks. It is the hottest time of the year here with above 40oC temperature and menacing clouds which only increase the humidity.
In the villages it is time to start working in the fields: cleaning the previously cultivated ones or to clear new ones. It is also the time for the “masks”. Most of the villages where we are active have at least once a year the “mask dances”. This is normally in April. Masks are young initiated adults who are dressed with coloured raffia and wear masks mainly showing animals. Some other masks are all dressed in black or white raffia, those have specific tasks in the process of the celebration. Nobody is supposed to know who are behind the masks. The celebration is for the people who died during the year: “les funérailles sèches” or dry funerals. Relatives come to the village for this celebration of the deceased parents and it lasts at least 3 days. No need to try to come to the village to discuss something during this period nor immediately after. A lot of local beer made from sorghum is drunk during this feast. In some villages only the men can watch the mask dances besides the women of the blacksmith. In other villages women can participate in the celebration. Kids are very scared of the masks and adolescent boys are trying to bother them. If caught they can be severely beaten.
I think that for quite a few farmers the mask dances is the last occasion to get very drunk before going back to the heavy work in the fields.
So it is warm. Just moving around makes you sweat. But it is also the mango time. Nice!!! All over there are mango trees and specially for kids it is a great time. A very nice treat for them: free, sugary and tasty. But this can also bring problems. There is a lot of dust in the air which lays on the fruits and also bringing various microbes such as the one for meningitis. Kids eat the mangos without washing them and this can be dangerous. Parents know this and they try to make sure that their kids do not eat mangos before the first rain, often in April. This rain is called the mango rain. This rain cleans the mangos and makes it safer to be eaten without washing. 2 weeks ago a couple of strong rains have fallen on the area of Bobo. Another problem with mango and children is diarrhoea. They do not eat ripe mango but take whatever is at their level. Green mango can give some very strong belly pains.
|Mango tree in our yard|
On Thursday we visited the Lycée Agricole Privé (LAP = Secondary Agricultural School). This school has been opened in October 2011 with 70 children (38 girls and 32 boys). Besides getting 31 Ha of land from the village of Oualana, there was nothing on this piece of land: no electricity, no buildings, no water = nothing. The infrastructure is being built step by step. In 2011 we have built the first school block and 2 houses for the teachers, we have also drilled two water wells. Unfortunately the wells have a very low flow of water. End of 2011 and until now we have also built a garden, a pigsty, a coop, a shed for a generator, a small house for a guard and a bicycle shed. We also finally got a good water well which will enable us to equip it with a down hole electrical pump to fill a water tower. The electrical generator is in Bobo and should be installed before the end of the month. Coming week we will bring 13 computers to the LAP. We expect to have a satellite antenna in place by mid-May to have internet access.
All this is very nice. But what is even nicer is the motivation of the children and their dedication. They have the same program as a normal secondary school and in addition they have technical subjects (agronomy and zoo technic), computer and arts.
Below some pictures of the infrastructure taken this past week and the vegetable garden.
The visit to the LAP was for a meeting with the parents. 60 out of the 70 were available. This is also showing the strong motivation of the parents. One of the subject discussed in this meeting was to check with the parents the need to have a “boarding school”. Everybody agreed that this was the best solution to insure quality environment for the children. The question was at what additional costs for the parents? Since in avera
ge a person in Burkina eats 2,5 bags of 100kg of cereals per year. The parents agreed to pay this additional costs. Obviously there is also an increase on the sponsors side.
This Sunday we went with Emmanuel to visit the 61 scholarship holders we have in Banfora (80 km from Bobo Dioulasso where we have our office and house). 19 of them will be attempting to get their BEPC (exam in secondary school after 4 years). It was nice to talk to them and to see them in good health and good spirit.
Besides those visits, we had a lot of work done at the office both on ASAP and the social business side.
At the LAP, we very quickly realised that children did not have any food in the morning. We decided to give them a piece of bread with blue band. The bread is brought by a young man who bikes 110 km every 2 days from Bobo Dioulasso with bread. This is motivation to provide for your family!!!
To end this letter, a short problem which Emmanuel asked the children in Banfora:
You have 2 containers, one of 5 litres and one of 3 litres without any graduation. You have to bring back only 7 litres home. How do you do?
Each day is a new life.
Until next week. Take care of yourselves.