This will be the last message of this trip. Today there will be a solar eclipse for about 4 hours. It does not seem to trouble much the people here. The danger is for those who look at the eclipse without protection. For the lunar eclipse it is another story. People here are saying that it is a cat that is trying to steal the moon and people will go out with pans and sticks making noise to chase the cat away.

Two nights ago I was talking with 2 of the local colleagues about “unexplained things”. Most of the people here believe that some people have the power to bring lightning on people. This is very often to punish somebody like to somebody who has stolen something. It is also possible to use lightning to send goods (food for example) from one place to another. The power to heal of some people is also well recognized here. This is very often for broken bones. Somebody told me that in some cases the patient coming to the hospital is asked to go and see such a healer. Another believe is about witches. It seems that many people have had encountered with witches. In the contrary of the healers, the witches are doing negative things.

 

What part is true and what part is imagination based on stories from elders? Difficult to know. I do believe that there are things which cannot be explained and that some people have special powers to heal others. The difficulty most of the time is to be able to separate the “story” part from the truth.

What do you think?

It has not rained for two weeks and the dust is getting everywhere. Surprisingly we are getting some cooler nights which is a bit early in the season. The dust and cool nights we are having are making people sick with cold and cough. Harvests are keeping people busy. It seems that this year all crops need to be harvested at the same time, not easy for the farmers and their families.

Last Sunday we went to visit the village of Toungana. The main issue there is the number of new children in the school. Just from the children at the meeting we could find 8 of school age and not registered. Mothers will keep a girl at home to help with the baby and the father will keep a boy to check on the cattle. We gave them a target to reach, otherwise we would come back only next school year and do nothing in the village until then. We will see if they react to threat.

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On Tuesday we left for 3 days, sleeping two nights at the LAP. Our first visit was the village of Kofila. It is a rather well organized village and the meeting went well.

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One of the new projects for this village is the vegetable gardens during the dry season. The plan is to dig a water well until about 16 meters which will give us water the whole year round. A pump powered with a solar panel will fill a reservoir where villagers will draw the water. The garden will be fenced with mesh wire.

This is the easy part. The difficult one is to have the villagers working together in a sort of cooperative. If they want to be successful they will need to agree on the type of vegetable they will grow, on when to sell and at which price… We have seen too many examples of such cooperatives failing because of bad lack of unity and mismanagement. If we find the financing we will try to guide them to success.

On Wednesday we had a meeting with the people interested in this project from 3 villages: Kofila, Oualana and Toungana.

They had to help us define what they wanted. How to get organized, what surface they needed per person… For the surface we let them give us a number. After a few minutes of discussion between themselves they came to a surface of 1/8th of a hectare per person. The meeting was held under the hangar of the house of the women. We had previously measured the size of it, 1/100 of a hectare. We then asked them if this area was not big enough for one person. Again discussion between themselves and then they told us that they will think about it and come back to us. Their decision, which we got at the end of the week, was to go for the 1/100 per hectare.

On Wednesday afternoon we spent time at the LAP discussing with the teachers and working to organize the workshop building. Moving some bags, we were surprise to see a snake which escaped us. There is a lot of high grass at the LAP and there are quite a few reptiles.

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Students of the first year at the LAP with the agronomy teacher making a physical description of the ground.

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Some of the girls wanted their picture in front of the bougainvillea

Thursday we visited the village of Kouekouesso. In contrary to Toungana the children are sent to school, 94 in first year of primary school. The problem is the leadership of the village. There was only a few people at the meeting and it seems that it is almost impossible to gather the villagers, whichever the purpose of the meeting. We will have to see what we can do to help them get better leaders.

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On Saturday we went to Oualana where we also found a low number of children in the first year of primary school. We also gave them a target to reach if they wanted us to work on projects in the village during this school year.

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Nice welcome with drums

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Day and night butterfly at the LAP

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Birds along the way

African proverb:

Qui craint de perdre ce qu’il possède est possédé par ce qu’il craint de perdre.

Who is afraid of losing his possessions is possessed by what he fears losing.

Thanks for the ones who are sending me comments on my blog, they are really appreciated.

Take care,
Hervé

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