I am already back in The Netherlands since 4 days and I have not yet written the last message for this trip in Burkina Faso. It is not that nothing happened.
On Saturday arrival of Arend (from our board in NL) and of Désiré (back from vacation). For Arend it is his first contact with Africa. You will not be surprised if I tell you that I had a “plan” for them.
Sunday we went to the town of Banfora (80 km from Bobo and 50km from the border with Ivory Coast) where we have a large number of scholarship holders in boarding schools. The idea was to discussed with the 2 supervisors of the children to see how we can better follow them up and give them support. It was interesting and we have agreed on a few points which hopefully will avoid to have surprises regarding the results of the children. We had 38 last year in the schools in Banfora (22 girls and 16 boys). Unfortunately 7 of them (6 girls and 1 boy) have not made it for the coming year. We have realized too late that we had some information which should have helped us to take some decision. Sometime decisions are very hard to take, but not taking them create even more problems. Taking into account that we will add around 17 additional scholarships for the coming year, it is important that we invest in close follow up of the children.
Monday was a selection day in the village of Toungana. Children from 5 villages were invited to come and speak with us. Some of the children were for the secondary school scholarships in Banfora and others for vocational training in Bobo (welder, electrician, sewing). It was a long day with interviews of 44 children. It is always difficult to have the children speak. Answer to a question is often one word: yes or no. However through the few minutes spent with each of them we can make some comparison. Finally we have to take some decision, very often not easy.
Arend with children already with a scholarship
Candidates and their parents in Toungana
Tuesday we were in Sokourani to interview more children. There were only around 20 to be screened.
The group in Sokourani
We had asked the children and their parents to be at the meeting place at 8:00 in the morning and we were pleasantly surprised to see that everybody was on time. This is a big change with some years ago, when we had to wait a couple of hours to have people ready. Some of the children came from 30km away by bike, others had to walk over 10km!!!
From the group for secondary school scholarship, we have selected 17 who will pass an academic test at the schools in Banfora before they are confirmed. For the vocational training we have selected 12 of them.
Corn coming out in our farm
Shea nuts drying in the sun. This year seems should be a good harvest.
Now follow up on the saga of Mogobasso:
Episode 7: since we did not have any feedback from the village, we went on Tuesday to pick up all the equipment from the nursery school. Tuesday is the day of the market in a neighboring village called Sala. We made sure to pass by this village with the material since a lot of the men from Mogobasso were there. We also told them that the group of 4 French scouts who were coming to repaint the school will be going to the school of Sokourani. We know from inside sources that there are a lot of discussion (palabres), but so far no decisions. We will send them another letter middle of August to warn them that if we do not have some kind of resolution to our difficulties by the end of September, we will be contacting the police. The police in rural areas is a sort of debt collection agency.
Red birds with baby on the way to Toungana
On Wednesday we had a staff meeting and then we had prepare ourselves for the trip to Ouagadougou the following day.
Ouagadougou is the capital of Burkina Faso and is 100 time more busy than Bobo Dioulasso. I rather not spend much time there. We had to visit the bronze artists who are living there, we also try to negotiate the shipment price with Air France. So far we have been able to get a 10% discount. What we found very strange is that shipping our statues via DHL would be almost 35% cheaper!!! We did not expect that from DHL so what is the catch!!!
Touareg in Ouagadougou
Transport of bananas in Ouaga
We had also an interesting meeting with somebody from the Dutch embassy. I already mention in a previous message that the level of education in Burkina is going lower every year. One of the reason is that the people supplying funds for education (Dutch government, World bank…) wants to see that the millennium goal for education is reached: all children have access to primary education. The consequence is that the government and the donors look at quantity not at quality. How many children start school, but no interest on how many come out with a diploma. Due to this choice of criteria, teachers training has been reduced from 2 years to
1 year (sometime it is only 6 months). To exacerbate the situation, those young teachers are the one going in rural areas. In order to point out our point of view, we have written a letter to the primary school minister. The person of the embassy was very interested in our point of view and he asked us to send a copy of our letter to the coordinator of all the donors for education in Burkina. I do not think that our point will be taken, but at least we got it out of our chest.
Friday night we took back the plane and arrived safely in The Netherlands Saturday morning.
If any news from Mogobasso, I will let you all know.
If any news from Mogobasso, I will let you all know.
Thank you for reading those lines.