Tuesday, October 22, 2013

And then they handed us a live rooster...

                Last week marked the start of a new phase in the project: after a fortnight of training, planning and acclimatising to our new environment, it was our first day at work. Everyone was eager to get stuck in and start working towards the tasks we’d been planning. Starting with a discussion about the focus group for the Federation members – which is being held to better understand their goals and needs – we carefully crafted questions that would maximise the time we had with the people who make up the Paralympic Committee.

Our work days also saw us finishing off the last of the visits to sports organisations around Ouagadougou, including Fitima, Saaba and ABUSHIS – where we collected data about the athletes, coaches and club managers; as well as noting the needs of the organisations and the facilities that they already had in place. The difference between the various clubs was vast, and it was interesting to see what impact our work will have on the lives of people living with a disability.

Boukary helping an athlete fill out a questionnaire at ABUSHIS

Burkinabe Striker Bance Aristide at the Algeria match
 Our 3rd Saturday in Ouaga happened to fall on match day of the World Cup Qualifier: Burkina vs. Algeria. The streets were buzzing with avid football fans supporting their beloved Etalons (meaning stallions – the team’s mascot); the air filled with the noise of bazookas blasting as people made their way to the national stadium. It was a very tense game, but les Etalons brought home a 3-2 victory – the second leg in Algeria will determine their fate for Brazil 2014.

Nela, Rassmane, Stanley, Cally and Elliott on the day of Tabaski
The 15th October was the national holiday Tabaski - an important event in the Muslim calendar. Rassmané, one of the national volunteers in our team, invited us to spend this important celebration at his home in the village of Tanghin-Dassouri, just outside of Ouagadougou. Here, his family sacrificed two sheep, which were later served alongside traditional Burkinabe plates – such as Tô and gonré. It was an honour to receive such a warm welcome from Rassmané and his family, who later offered us a rooster and a selection of vegetables (for the vegetarians of the group!) to take back to Ouaga. After ignoring Stan's advice to tie Tabaski the rooster down - in an attempt to rear a free-range chicken - he has since escaped. Oops.

This week, we finished inputting the club data that we’d collected around Ouaga. This marks the completion of the raw databases – and we’ll now start to synthesise, analyse and interpret the data in the coming weeks. Alongside this, our team has also been researching additional sources of funding from both British and local NGOs, as well as expanding our online presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Athletes taking part in wheelchair basketball at la Place de la Nation

We also attended the National Wheelchair Day at la Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou on Friday. Here there were several stands from the various partner organisations – such as Djigui Espoir’s brochettes and Tigoung Nonma’s crafts – as well as some races and games from the athletes in their wheelchairs. It was really great to see all of International Service’s partners represented on the day, as well as the athletes in action.

For the weekend just passed, some of the team ventured south to the Nazinga national park near Pô for the Safari! Not only did we get a chance to explore some of Burkina’s vast countryside – along with the wildlife native to the country (such as crocodiles, iguanas and monkeys) – we also visited a traditional village called Tiébélé. It was great to see more Burkinabe customs and learn about some of their beliefs, such as the snakes which represent those who have just passed in the village. It was overall an exciting end to a great couple of weeks!
Cally and Elliott trying out the Safari viewing platform!
The chief's compound in Tiebele

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