Already end of January. Time flies.

Hortense came out of the clinic on Tuesday. There was very little improvement in her health. She still had problems to eat and drink. A lot of pus was still coming out of the drain she has. Yesterday Eugénie took her back for another check up. The surgeon decided to do another surgery to try to locate the source of all this pus. This has happened this afternoon. Another 4 hours on the operation table. Difficult to understand exactly what was the problem, but the doctor seems to be confident that she will get out tomorrow and that the drain will be taken out mid week. Let’s see.

Besides taking care of Hortense, Eugénie with a painter and carpenter, has been busy redoing all the mosquito nets we have in the windows of the house and repainting the windows and doors. Not much was done on the container side this week by her or me.

You might remember that in my trip in July, thevillageofMogobassohad not been very responsive (the men of the village) to our threats if they would not reimburse the credits they have with us. We even closed the nursery school of the village. Well, 6 months later, there is some development in the story. The main problem is the trust between the farmers and the bad will of a couple of them. We asked them to send us a signed list of the debtors with the amount they owe us. They also understood very well that we would use this list with the local police if they did not pay us. The local police are a sort of collection agency here. Villagers are afraid to be put in jail. I would be too. We finally received the list on Friday. This does not change the mentality of some of the villagers, but they are now identified and we can put pressure on them for reimbursement. The nursery school will reopen the coming week. This evolution of the situation is due mainly because of the pressure of the women on their men. The president of the women association told Desiré that if they could not comply with our demand, she would move to Desire’s house in Bobo!!! Désiré wanted to have the list too!

ThevillageofMogobassois made up of several ethnic groups, mainly the Dioula, the Mossi and the Peuhl. Each ethnical group lives in their own quarter of the village. The Dioula consider themselves has the owners of the village and all the leaders come from them. As much as the Dioula women are working hard, as much the men are lazy and they are the ones creating the trouble. Because of this Dioula leadership the 3 ethnical groups are not really making up a village. Mossi and Peuhl saying rightly that are only called when there is work to be done but never when there is something to share. I am not sure if we can influence a change to this situation. The nursery school could be the beginning of something in a positive direction. Talking to Cécile, the person in charge of the nursery school in Mogobasso, I found out that the children in the school were much better integrated than their parents. At the beginning of the school year, the Dioula children do not call the other children by their name, but by “hey you, the Mossi!” and each group stays apart. Thanks to the work at the school, they were forced to mix and to call each other by name. It works very well to the point that children of each group makes friends in other groups. Coming to school in the morning they immediately go to meet with their friends. Something we did not think of when we planned the nursery school. There might be hope for the future.

We have also a problem in thevillageofSissa. The main problem is trust between the farmers. But also for this village we obtained the list of the farmers with debt to ASAP. So it was a rather positive week on the credit side.

On Tuesday we went to thevillageofNefrelayefor a meeting with the population of this village. The theme of the meeting was village organization. We made them realize that they were only reacting to outsiders (ASAP, government, other organization) and not at all pro active. We told them that we could help them make a development plan for their village if they wanted.

A similar meeting was held on Saturday in Toungana. Same outcome and same proposition.

Old man from Nefrelaye

Woman from Nefrelaye             

Little girl

Woman from Nefrelaye

Nursery school opened this year in Nefrelaye

The “students”

We arrived at the time of food distribution



Some of the kids eat fast to have first choice of game  

Women in Toungana with bags of cloths

One of the characteristic of a group of farmers is that good farmers are pulled down by the bad ones. The bad ones will do anything they can to stop the work of the good ones: jealousy, do not want to be compared to the good ones. Désiré and Karim are very good at making a sketch out of this. The farmers laugh a lot, but realize that it is the truth. The situation in an African family is very similar. Too many members of the family depend on a very few successful other members and draw them down.

Friday afternoon we had invited the 40 students, following vocational training, to our office for a chat. It was mainly to make them think about their own future and not have them waiting on us to find them something. Each month they come to the office to get their allowance. They were told that next month they will only get it if they can put down on a paper what they dream of becoming. Wahl!! It took us at least half an hour to make them understand what a dream was.

At the end of the talk we asked  if they had some questions and one girl ask if ASAP would give her work when she was done with her sewing course!!!  Not easy.


Kids in vocational training

Sunday I went to theschoolofLabawhere we have 3 students (4 with Hortense). They were happy to see me, disappointed not to see Désiré I think. I am asking too many questions and Désiré is like the “grand frère”. They are rather worried about Hortense. It is an exam year for them. This is the first group taking an exam of our boarding school scholarship program. We have a lot of expectations. I hope they will be able to deliver. We have to think about what next for them. They all want to keep studying, but at which school? TheschoolofLabais not getting better, so is certainly not an option.

Eric, Foussita and Alice eating “Toh” a local dish coming from Désiré ‘s house


A story about administration / corruption: in thevillageofBonawe have just finished to expand the school to 6 classes. With the school we made 4 new latrines. With the first 3 classes we had built 7 years ago, there were also 6 latrines. The school director was very surprised to see the arrival of material to build latrines ordered by the rural district. He managed to convince the population to redirect the material to a neighboring village where the school was without latrines. In order to do this they needed the ok of the local mayor. After 3 weeks of waiting the contractor started to build the latrines in Bona saying that otherwise he would get a penalty for being late in delivering the work!!! It seems that all along the chain people are getting paid. It starts inOuagadougouwhere the project is given to the contractor, then at the mayor level. Very expensive latrines which are not needed.

The school director had seen the price of a 3 classes building without double ceiling built by the government: € 50.000. The 3 classes building for us with double ceiling is € 20.000!!!!!!

A story of no health insurance:  a little girl of 7 (first year in school) from thevillageofBonawas sick. The school director sent her home with some paracetamol, asking the parents to take her to the medical center 5 km away. The parents did not have any money so they could not take her and sadly the little girl died. I guess we have to start thinking about micro health insurance, not only micro credits. Obviously this will not be enough; change of mentality will also be needed.

Even if sometime stories are hard and positive stories are not many, there is still a lot of motivating factors coming from the people here. This is why we keep doing it. We really believe that we make a difference. In thevillageofNefrelaye, an old man stood up and said “your first visit to our village was on the 7th of February 2002. Since then we have learned a lot. You might think that you are talking in the wind, but it is not true. We are really listening and trying our best to apply your advices”.  I was amazed they remembered the date of our visit and make me realize also that change is not easy, especially not for them.

Have a nice week.




Nice Baobab in Kwekwesso

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