Friday, January 23, 2015

First Impressions from Cohort 11

New Beginnings

'The Gang'

Hello/Bonjour from the HSB Inclusive Sports Development team in Ouagadougou. Over the next ten weeks we will keep you posted about our work promoting disability rights and inclusive sport in Burkina Faso. In this first blog post each team member has written a short piece introducing themselves as well as reflecting on the first couple of weeks of the ICS programme.

So it’s been almost 2 weeks since we arrived in Burkina Faso and the time has flown by. The first week was our induction week, in which we met all of the national volunteers from Burkina, and learnt all about Burkinabe culture and the different projects we would be working on. It was great to have everyone together and to make plenty of new friends! I think our French and English language skills were tested to the max. We were also introduced to Moore, the main local language. There is lots to learn!
This week was time to split off into our various teams and begin work on our projects. This week with HSB Inclusive Sports Development, we visited CEFISE, a school for children with hearing impairments, and ABPAM, a school for children with visual impairments. At Cefise we led a warm up activity and did some throwing and catching exercises and relays. The kids seemed to love it! At ABPAM we played some zoomball, goalball, and practised balancing on wobble boards. It was my first experience of zoomball and goalball and I really enjoyed learning some new sports, and the kids loved playing them. Can’t wait to continue with our activities, and especially looking forward to a bit of wheelchair tennis and wheelchair basketball!

Jana Browne

ICS program  is a place for meeting,  working and mostly a place to share  experiences  between volunteers. During induction  week everything was fantastic. On Monday 19th January we started planning the work  in a positive and friendly environment. At CEFISE we did sport with children who have physical disabilities. At APBAM  we practised  inclusive  sport with children and helped them to do art. Through this program I want to leave old prejudices behind.

Moussa Tougma

 My name is Will, one of the British IS volunteers working on HSB's Inclusive Sports Programme. We have been in Burkina for almost two weeks now, and already it feels like home. The national volunteers, national team leaders and all the Burkinabe people have been incredibly welcoming, especially considering Les Etalons (the national football team) are not doing well in the African Cup of Nations. Our first week here was an Induction Week, essentially a training week designed to familiarise ourselves with Burkinabe and British culture as well as our projects. During our first weekend all the British volunteers and some of the national volunteers moved into their host families where we will be living for the next two months. I am living with two other British volunteers in a Burkinabe family comprising over thirty people! It was challenging to adapt to at first but now we are settling in and embracing the experience. One highlight was teaching the children the rhyme 'Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes'!

'First inclusive sports session at ABPAM '
            We started work at our Burkinabe partner HSB (Handicap Solidaire Burkina), a charity promoting the rights of those affected by disability in Burkina.  Thus far, we have run inclusive sports sessions at two schools in Ouagadougou. At times there have been obstacles to overcome but each session was immensely rewarding. Today we went to ABPAM, a school for partially-sighted and blind children, and after running a sports session, spent a hour making pictures out of drawing pins and cardboard. The children really enjoyed it because the pins acted like Braille, allowing them to feel what they were making. A journalist from a local radio station even unexpectedly turned up for an interview!

Will Callow

The induction week was good. Our team is good because we work together all the time .Our team leaders are very nice. On Monday we did the week's planning . On Tuesday and Wednesday we went to CEFISE, where we played sport with the children. I really like it because these activities contribute to stimulating children with disabilities.
This morning we went to ABPAM.I like it because children were happy to play sport. I find myself useful and engaged with community development. We must emphasise awareness-raising with inclusive sport and other kinds of sport.

Yvette Voandonou 

It's difficult to know what to say about my first impressions of Burkina as it's so different to anything else I've ever experienced. Even playing football seems like a different sport on the dusty/rocky surface, but nonetheless it's all been very enjoyable. People have been universally welcoming and warm. The community spirit is clearly far stronger than in the UK, which perhaps comes hand in hand with the strict respect for elders which is also very evident.

'Art at ABPAM'
Last week was induction week, and the best part of this was meeting all of the Burkinabe volunteers, even if it made me realise just how far from speaking French I am. Beginning to speak Mooré has also been a challenge, though one made very worthwhile by the warm reception it receives from locals (and the cheaper prices which shops offer in response).

I and two other UK volunteers have been living with the director of Tigoung Nonma – a disabled artisans group which make and sell a variety of products (see http://tigoungnonma.org/en/) - since Saturday. There are at least 30 people living there and even more who pop in and out regularly, but despite the size we've been made to feel as welcome as if it were our own home. Spending the whole of Saturday drinking chai tea was a particular highlight.

We started work on our projects this week and we're still just getting to know how HSB works. It seems great so far, and its reputation in the community and with leaders of other projects suggests it's already done a lot of good work. We've carried out sports sessions in two schools so far: CEFISE (a deaf school) and ABPAM (a school for blind and visually impaired children). The enthusiasm of the children to get involved with any form of sport has been great, and the ability of the ABPAM students in particular to play sports at such a high pace is very impressive.

Duncan Hatfield

HI…. I’m Rachid and all the ISD-HSB team(Cat, Djeli, Daryl, Yvette, Jonas, Duncan, Will, Moussa and Jana) say hello. We began our work this Monday when we stayed at the office to make plans for the next 3 months. Tuesday and Wednesday we were CEFISE school for inclusive sport with the pupils. On Wednesday while part of the team where at CEFISE, Daryl and I went to handi-tennis training. It’s amazing to see how people with disabilities adapt and blossom when playing sport. It’s extraordinary. I really like this work which allows us to bring more to disabled people. Big up ICS, I’m proud of you.
Moulay Rachid Sow

Arriving in Burkina Faso for a 10 week project would usually have been a daunting thought for me, but after our group training session in York my mind had already been put at ease and all I was feeling upon arrival was the excitement of immersing myself into a whole new culture. The welcome we received on our first day of our one week in country training was incredible. Our first lesson, Burkina 101 is that a hello will not suffice as a greeting, everyone will shake your hand in a variety of ways; some will merely shake hands, some will fist pump and others use the ‘Burkina Click’ handshake.

Our week of training was full of presentations containing information of both of the Western and African cultures. The more each of us know about each other’s customs, the easier this placement will be. Part of training was to visit all of the partner projects, meeting all the members of staff that we would work with and get a taste of what all the other projects would be doing too.

'Daryl helping a child on a balance board'
My personal area of concern for Burkina has been the language barrier; this has been lessened slightly because of the French and Mooré lessons that we have had this week. Learning phrases that we may need on a day to day basis. This included ordering a taxi, asking how much something is and simply being able to say ‘come here’. The latter may seem a simply tool but is one that would most definitely come in handy with the children in schools.

Within HSB – ISD the main aim is to further disability sport. My first week on project could not have embodied this message more. We started the week with a trip to CEFISE, a school for the deaf and those with audio impairments, taking a sports sessions involving relay’s and ball games to improve their hand-eye co-ordination. Later in the week I took part in a tennis session against a local player who uses a wheelchair, not only was it a good session but it was eye-opening to the sport in a completely different way. Another school session took place at ABPAM, a school for blind and visually impaired children, helping the children with their balance on balance boards, playing zoomball and playing goalball before taking part in an art session in which the children felt a pattern on a piece of card and made their own design using drawing pins.

Being able to move into a host home with a large Burkinabe family which has many different generations has been the best way to educate myself in local customs, culture and food. Although their customs are completely different to a Western family, there is such a tight knit community not only with the members of the family but with neighbours too. The welcome we received in every aspect of Burkinabe life so far has made me feel at home and made it all that easier to be ready to enjoy every day I spend here.

Daryl Smith

ICS is a good program it’s a place to meet to work and exchange with people of different culture to mine. During the first week we have learned a lot of things like how to work in groups and how to behave with people who have a disability. Currently we are going to different organizations to work. I am part of HSB ISD with 10 people: Rachid, Will, Duncan, Daryl, Jana, Moussa, Yvette and the two team leaders Cat and Dielika. Every morning at 7 o’clock we will be doing sport with schools like CEFIS and ABPAM, which is a good start to the day.

Jonas Bonkoungu

So there you have the initial thoughts and reactions of the HSB/ISD team. This week we began planning for the entire cohort. It's safe to say there is a lot of exciting ideas in the pipeline including possible inclusive sports events in Réo and Ziniaré, an arts exhibition in Ouaga and expanding the number of lycées we run disability awareness sessions at. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and be sure to return next week for the next blog post. Please spread word of HSB/ISD among family and friends, and give us a like or a follow on Twitter or Facebook. Details are below. Until next time/A la prochaine!

Twitter- @BF_Inclusive
Facebook- Burkina Faso Inclusive Sport 

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