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Friday, January 30, 2015

'Everyone has a disability but not everyone is disabled'

         Hello once again from the HSB/ISD team, and it's frightening to think that we're now into our third week in Burkina! It really is full steam ahead as we work frantically to ensure all our innovative proposals and ideas are translated into reality in just over seven weeks. This week two of the team, Jonas and Will, share their reflections and thoughts on a busy but productive week for the HSB/ISD team.   

'Children enjoying the football relay at CEFISE'

We have nearly finished our second week during which we have done many activities, principally associated with sport. On Monday morning, as usual, we began with sport at CEFISE where I replaced Jana for the warm-up. After we divided into four groups ; Daryl and I did the tennis relay, Moussa and Will did the relay, Rachid and Duncan did the football relay and Yvette and Jana did Over-Under. On returning to the office Will, Duncan and I made an inventory of our equipment, Daryl searched for equipment online and Dielika and Rachid wrote letters requesting permission to run awareness sessions in different schools. On Tuesday was special for the British volunteers because everyone had to speak French which wasn’t easy for Daryl and Duncan and they didn’t speak a lot that day. After, we went to Ross’ house to make and repair sports equipment, it was amazing. On Wednesday, we planned to send part of our team to handi-tennis but in the end we were unable to go. Instead, we all went to CEFISE to do sport with the children and after followed the group discussion led by Yvette and Daryl. On Thursday, part of the team went to ABPAM and the rest went to CEFISE to run a disability awareness session with the 6ème class, which also was a chance for Daryl to read in French. That afternoon all of the team went to Katre Yaaré to train with the HSB handi basket team. On Friday the whole team had to speak just in English which wasn’t easy for the national volunteers! Some people were very quiet. Tonight to promote cultural exchange there is a British themed night at Kat’s house. I am very excited!

Jonas Bonkoungou


'Awareness raising session at CEFISE'
This week we delivered three more inclusive sports sessions at CEFISE, the mixed school which caters for children with hearing difficulties. The children, as always, seemed to thoroughly enjoy the sports sessions, especially a new activity we introduced this week, the Football Relay. The Football Relay is a simple exercise, beloved of football coaches around the world, requiring children to dribble a football in and out of cones,. However, on Wednesday we had CP2, a class containing children aged 7 or 8 years old. We discovered that the activities, such as Over-Under and Tennis Relay, that worked so well with older children proved too difficult for CP2. Therefore it's back to the drawing board to devise activities that are more appropriate for the younger children at CEFISE. The main challenge is finding activities that engage all the participants simultaneously because, like all young children, they possess fairly short concentration spans. Working with children of a diverse range of ages and abilities requires us to be adaptable, creative and patient in terms of the sports sessions we run.

Furthermore, we received some great news because CEFISE have asked us to lead a training session for the teachers so they can learn how to deliver inclusive sports sessions. The ultimate objective is to empower the teachers at CEFISE to run inclusive sports sessions without the need of the HSB-ISD team. This would mark a significant achievement because one of the buzz words of development is sustainability, and the ultimate objective is to empower staff and pupils at CEFISE to integrate those students affected by disability into the school and wider society. We are hopeful this teacher training session will happen within the next couple of weeks. 

'Action shot from HSB's Basketball training'
At the start of this week the team gained approval from the Ministry of Education to run disability awareness sessions at lycées in Ouagadogou. We held our first session this Thursday at CEFISE. It's fantastic that the school has lent so much support to our team and long may our partnership continue. The disability awareness is divided into two separate sessions for each class; the first is a theoretical classroom-based session and the second a practical session. At CEFISE we ran the former in the form of Q and A with the children about topics such as the definition of disability, its causes and how to best treat and overcome disabilities. One point we all found interesting was that if you define disability as an obstacle or a barrier in your life, then everyone in the world faces countless disabilities throughout their lifetime. It's worth also considering less obvious types of disabilities such as temporary disabilities due to injuries or illness or episodic disability such as epilepsy. Statistics indicate 10% of the world's population is directly affected by a disability, and over 80% live in developing countries. Disability is both a cause and a consequence of poverty; many disabilities in developing countries result from illnesses such as Polio and Meningitis, which people are immunised against in wealthier countries. In spite of there being over sixty students in the classroom (strange for us British but normal in Burkina) the session seemed to engage the children and hopefully provoked some reflection. We already have two more awareness sessions scheduled at CEFISE early next week and hope to be running them daily in the near future.

Moreover, we ran our usual two inclusive sports sessions at ABPAM, the school for blind and partially sighted children, this Thursday and Friday. We also spent a hour doing art with the children on Thursday. This week the children were constructing shapes out of polystyrene and tooth-picks. It was received well and at the end the polystyrene and tooth-picks were transformed into cars, people, horses, mountains and even a porcupine! At the end of the cohort we will host an art exhibition showcasing the APBAM students' work which will be a proud moment both for the students and for the charity. On Thursday afternoon we went training with HSB's handi-basket team, who were extremely good!

This week we began the painstaking process of locating equipment our Burkinabe partner HSB can use. This includes any sports equipment we can use in our inclusive sports sessions or that HSB can donate to its inclusive basketball or tennis teams, as well as unwanted wheelchairs, crutches and any item that could improve the life of someone affected by disability. After a considerable time spent researching this week we have e-mailed Sports Direct, the Department of Health in the British government, Tesco and many more organisations about possible donations. So far we have heard nothing back but it's still early days! We also have spent time raising the social media presence of our team through posting pictures, videos and links to relevant articles on Twitter and Facebook. Oh and not to forget writing this blog!

'Cord relay at ABPAM'
One key aim of the ICS Programme is peer education; that is to say learning from other team members, British and Burkinabe. In an attempt to further our linguistic skills, on Tuesday morning in the office the team could only communicate in French, and anyone caught speaking English had to pay a fine of 25 CFA. All proceeds went to HSB's Espace Bambino Project which is in desperate need of funds. In a beautiful moment of irony the only person to pay a fine was Yvette, one of the national volunteers, who forgot the morning was taking place!

We also had our weekly Active Citizenship session on Wednesday and the topic was 'What is Development?'. This was a good opportunity to reflect on how our work at HSB ISD contributes to international development. A good quote from a former ICS volunteer reads 'development is a slow, complex process but an effective one that empowers people to get long term results'. And surely that is the case with our work: constantly taking incremental steps to ensure people living with disabilities in Burkina Faso are not disabled.

Will Callow

That's all for this week. Thank you for reading our blog and, if you haven't already, please do follow us on our social media pages.

Twitter: @BF_InclusiveSport

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