First some news about Arnaud. On Wednesday Arnaud was brought back home from the hospital. At least he is among his love ones and for Lydie she can take care of him and at the same time look after the kids. We were looking for an hospital bed. Not easy, you cannot just Google “rent a hospital bed” around here. We finally found a bed thanks to Désiré. We had provided several hospital beds (used beds from The Netherlands) to the medical dispensary of Kofila. We were able to borrow one bed from them which is a very big favour thanks to the good relations of Désiré with the local nurse. As soon as Arnaud was is in his new surroundings, the children were able to come and talk to him. The youngest one (2 years) decided to lay alongside his father bringing a big smile on Arnaud's face. As Eugénie said all the trouble of getting him home was rewarded by this image. Eugénie was the one opening the eyes of Lydie on the situation of Arnaud and after discussing with Lydie she also talked to the older kids before Arnaud came back home. A lot of emotional strain.
Relation to sickness is very different here. Better say that things will improve than to admit that it is not curable. A sister of Lydie, Evelyne was visiting and her sister did not say anything to her about the seriousness of the decease of Arnaud. Another example was with Jean François (one of ASAP advisors). We talked many time about the cancer of Arnaud. Yesterday he visited him and told him when he was leaving “I am sure you will get better”.
Arnaud himself is incredibly strong. He knows very well was is happening. Last night he asked for a priest to pray with his family. He even smiles to some of my stupid jokes. Eugénie asked him if he was not afraid. He answered her that his coming on earth and his dying was fate and he was not afraid.
Now let's talk about our week here. Strange for us we did not visit any village. We had a week long training in our office over “Appreciative Inquiry” (AI). The local association A.C.E.A. ( Association Communauté En Action) performs this training for our staff. We had already collaborated with them 4 or 5 years ago. At this time we had gone directly to the villages with them to apply the AI method. Since we were not trained we did not do a proper follow up on the first meetings and thus did not fully use the potential of the method. By capacitating our staff we should be able to have better results .
There is a lot of information about this method on internet, just type AI in google and you get more information than you wish. In a few words: it is a way to build the future on good things of the past without talking about the present. The method is divide in 4 phases: discovery (who are we), dream (what do we want to be), Design (how can we build this future) and Destiny (planning of the actions).
In villages the population has a strong tendency to be waiting and not acting. This comes from 2 main reasons:
- Outside organisations have come to help villages by giving without asking anything in return and the gift very often is not what the villages needed but what was needed to be given by the outside organisation. This is still very much the case for many NGO's and large charity organisations.
- Other local government organisations have also tried to help. Because of the difference of level of education, villagers very often do not understand words used in the discussion. Since in Africa “NO” does not exist, when asked if they understood they always answered “yes”. Coming back to the village and realising that nothing was understood, the government organisations make the villagers believe that they are “stupid” and will never be able to do something. If this situation is repeated many times, the villagers begin to believe that they will never be able to do something on their own.
With the AI we try to avoid both situations. The Discovery makes them realise that they have done things in the past on their own of which they can be proud of and the Dream is theirs not the one of outsiders.
It looks rather simple but the implementation of the method is not very easy. After the 5 days theoretical training we will have a practical work in a village for 3 days.
Since we did not visit villages this week, I will talk about the situation of the women's vegetable market in Bobo. Visitors in Bobo are always going to the old mosque, to the train station, to the old Bobo, but for the “pleasure of the eyes” they are going to the women vegetable market . This market is the whole sales place for vegetables produced in the neighbouring villages of Bobo. It is a place with a lot of colours and activities. The market is managed by women. Vegetables comes in the afternoon and are sold to women who in turn sell them in the many markets in Bobo Dioulasso. I should have said “was”, since it has been completely destroyed.
The market was along a street which was very congested in the centre of Bobo. Around 20 years ago some funds had been given to cover the area for the women. Is it because of speculative pressure for the space, is it just to allow the market to develop, but the mayor had decided to move this market elsewhere. Financing was found and a new market was built a bit outside the centre of Bobo. The new facility was given to a private company for the management. This automatically meant higher costs for the women and they refused to move. Only a few were convinced to move (we do not know the conditions) but the majority decided to fight the move.
The mayor sent the Police in the middle of the night about 3 weeks ago and paid contractors to destroy the covered market. Women were stopped to come back at this location. They then occupied a football field close to the old market. This morning I was told that they had been expelled also from this field.
The group of women marched on the town hall 2 weeks ago and the older ones undressed completely in front of it. Traditionally this means that the chief (the mayor) will have to go. It is a very strong message and nobody gives much chance to the actual mayor to be re-elected in November. The irony is that it was him who defended the market when the previous mayor wanted also to move it.
It is difficult to have all the information on this situation, but it shows definitely a lack of discussion between the various parties. May be some appreciative inquiry would helped them!!!
On the right the place where the vegetable market was. I do not have with me pictures of before the destruction.
ASAP will be 15 years in 2012. Make sure you reserve the 30th of June for a party.
It is better to walk than to curse the road. – Wolof proverb, Senegal
Il vaut mieux marcher que de maudire la route.
Have an excellent week (I have learned to be appreciative: I have gone from good to excellent).