As Erik did, I will start by introducing myself. My name is Claire van der Wal, I am 18 years old and I will be helping out ASAP during 2 months (of which 1 has already passed) in Bobo Dioulasso, working on different projects I will describe later on in my blog.
I have had many experiences and impressions already. There are so many cultural differences between the Netherlands and Burkina Faso. I would like to tell you a little bit about some of those, and about my impressions in general.
First of all I would like to say that the people here are extremely warm and kind-hearted. From the beginning, they have made me feel comfortable being here. This has made it fairly easy for me to feel at home here. Everywhere I go, whether it is in the villages or in the city of Bobo, people are kind and not reserved at all. This is a nice transition for me coming from the Netherlands and being used to people being distant and a bit cold. It can be difficult for me sometimes because I am so used to that Dutch attitude and I do not want to come across as distant or maybe even a little cold, especially not when people are so welcoming and warm.
I put on one of Odile (employee of local ASAP office)’s dresses! Now all that’s left is getting my own custom-made clothes.
The people here love to laugh. Everywhere I go people seem to be laughing and joking together, even when they don’t even know each other that well. And I guess joking around so often has its downsides too, but up until now I have found it to be very enjoyable and it creates a nice atmosphere to be around.
I guess sometimes people here are so polite it stands in the way of what they want and what is good for them. People are afraid of saying ‘no’ and of disappointing others. I can imagine this standing in the way of work going smooth, at the same time I respect the fact that people take account of each other so much.
Having said all of that, I will (through pictures) show you some of the things I have done and seen. During the first 2 weeks I have translated between Karim and Mr. Rijk on the subject of mechanization and agriculture. It was difficult for me since I have never used technical language, but the three of us seemed to manage and it was very interesting.
Working on tractors with Karim, Janus Rijk and one of the tractor drivers
After those two weeks (and after many college applications I finalized here) I have been to the villages Oualana and Kofila to work on questionnaires, and I will probably start inputting them in Excel soon. Here I have a picture of two of the girls who take the surveys.
Amina and Céline
Another thing that has caught my attention in the villages is that children seem to form their own miniature ‘communities’. They walk around together, hand in hand or with one arm wrapped around each other. They go to see other kids and play, talk and spend time with them, bringing their (baby) brothers and sisters. Around adults, children to not talk a lot, which from what I heard is part of the culture and tradition here. So it is not very strange that they create their own little communities.
Children passing by in the village of Kofila. Children walk together like this everywhere.
Last but not least, I would like to share with you a picture of a sunset I took. I do not get to see sunsets very often since I am normally in the city, but this one was beautiful. At night the stars are beautiful too, there are so many of them and I have the impression to be so close to them: it is impossible to see many stars at the same time.
I believe this picture was taken on the road from Ouagadougou to Bobo Dioulasso.
I am curious to see what the rest of my time here will bring me, what new experiences I will have and what more I will learn. I will keep you informed!