Wow, everyone. It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve gotten to Burkina. There have been so many new things I’ve already experienced and it makes the time seem so much longer. How long has it really been? Like a month? I couldn’t tell ya.
I’ll try to start near the beginning (and also not take too long explaining). Our trek to Ouagadougou was long and didn’t go exactly as planned, which was a good introduction to Africa and the PC, I think. We were supposed to have a very short layover in Niame, Niger (the kind where you don’t even leave the plane); however, due to some electrical problem on the plane, the layover became a night-long stay in a hotel in Niger. At the time, the capital wasn’t the safest place to be (election issues?); so, we were advised to stay in the hotel and do no exploring. It was a really nice hotel with a pool and good food and everything but the surrounding area was not very pretty or exciting to see. This was actually great because we got to be eased into the experience of arriving in Africa and once we got to Ouaga, I was so grateful to be there and appreciated its beauty much much more. It was funny how “right” it felt to finally be in Burkina – the layover increased the anticipation and helped highlight how pretty and awesome Ouaga was.
We didn’t spend too much time in the capital; although, we did have a really nice meal at the Country Director’s house. Our CD, Doug Teschnner (sp?), is really nice – he loves keeping us up to date on US sports stats (which is actually really comforting, even though I don’t know anything about sports).
So, we fairly quickly moved to Ouahigouya, our training city. There are two sectors of trainees here – secondary education (SE) and girls’ education and empowerment (GEE). The SE kids all live in host families in Ouahigouya and all of us GEE people are out in the surrounding villages. We’re divided by language ability and study language (which, for the time being is French for all but the most advanced) with our village group every day. We also have many sessions on GEE with the whole group of GEE people (we switch off which village we have class in every day). We also have lots of medical sessions and safety sessions and cultural sessions all together (SE and GEE alike) in Ouahigouya – which usually means the village folk come into town and stay at a hotel for a night once a week or so. Coming into town means we get some lovely things like cold drinks and fries and veggies and ample protein; but, it also means missing my host family and village air and the village way of life.
I’m so happy with my village and my host family. I live in Bogoya Z (as opposed to Bogoya F or the far-away land of Komsilga) with 4 other awesome volunteers (Julie – a.k.a. Medina, Molly – a.k.a. Mariam, Devin – a.k.a. Zalissa, and Jon – a.k.a. Ibrahim) and our “language and cultural facilitator,” J.P. J.P. runs our language classes and is our liason for any issues that arise in our families (like, the carb overload we all had for our first week in village…haha); he’s a fun guy and is great support for us.
The village is a little hard to describe – there are a lot of “quartiers” or little groupings of houses/courtyards/storage facilities/stables that are all connected in a maze-like fashion. Each of us is in a different quartier. Mine is the one closest to the school and entrance to the village and there is, luckily, a water pump right outside of the compound. My family lives in this compound along with many other families – I’m not really sure how many because it’s hard for me to tell who is grouped with which family. The structure and definition of family members is much more fluid here, possibly because people are kind of closer to each other and depend on one another more.
I do know a bit about my own family, luckily. My grandfather is the chief of Bogoya Z (super cool!), which means that I see him all the time and must be very careful with my greetings…
Now, I wish I could write more but my connection is about to expire so I think Ill have to get goin! Hope everything is well with all of you back home. I think about you so much and miss your loveliness!