Friday, February 6, 2015

Adapting In A New Community

Hello again everyone. This weeks HSB-ISD blog has been written by Daryl and Moussa. The theme for this week has been Community Development. In Daryl's Part of the blog he has spoken about how a UK volunteer tries to adapt to life in Burkina Faso, this is followed by Moussa's blog where he goes through all the activities our week has consisted of. 

Adapting to Burkinabé life 

The first hurdle of adapting to life in any African country is coming to terms with the heat. When we first arrived we thought that 30 degrees was hot, now with temperatures nigh on hitting 40 degrees and promising to break through further we would take the wintry 30 again in a heartbeat. The only answer is getting into a routine – if you know you are going to be outside in near future then it’s time to apply some more sun cream. Once you get into a daily routine the other important things such as deet application and tablet taking come around like clockwork.  

Our first meeting with national volunteers may feel like it happened years ago now but the importance of it cannot be overlooked. This is essentially where we picked up our first aspect of Burkinabé culture; when you meet someone you know or will be seeing on a regular basis you shake their hand and greet them. In that first week we learnt the basics of greeting new people here and immediately had to use this when meeting our host families, here are some Burkinabé 101 rules: 

A small bow to elderly members of the family, who can be referred to as ‘Yaba’ and you should wait to be offered their hand
Members of the family who are older than you but not quite old enough for ‘Yaba’, then ‘Tantie’ or ‘Tonton’ will suffice
Younger people will expect you to offer your hand to them 
The traditional African click as a greet is okay for younger members or those of a similar age only, a normal shake is more acceptable for the older generation
To greet and to offer/accept anything you MUST use your right hand, using your left hand could be taken as offensive

-Daryl with Karmal from the host family

As for life living with the family; this has been an eye-opening experience of differing cultures. The women at home do all the household chores from cooking and cleaning to washing the clothes. Moving from the training accommodation to our home was an experience of it's own with Lass forcing in as much into a boot as humanly possible. On my first weekend at home I tried to wash my own clothes and was met by a gasp from an elderly female member of the family who insisted she would do that for me and I was excused to go and watch the football in peace. Each day when we return from work with our bags on our shoulders the younger girls come out not only to greet us but to take the bags back to our rooms. The chores were not the biggest change we must adapt to at home, this came in the way of a bucket shower and long-drop toilet. On previous travels I have had the pleasure of the facilities for merely a day or two instead of a 10 week stint I am getting here. 

-Lass squashing bag after bag into the boot

In our day-to-day Burkina lives we are hearing different languages galore. For example, one morning working in CEFISE school we hear French, Mooré, Dioula, and English and have also been learning and using French Sign Language. In one conversation with a national volunteer you find yourself confused as they slip in and out of different languages within a matter of words in a single sentence. This can be both entertaining and confusing because you watch in admiration as it happens and then find yourself translating what has been said, no doubt pulling quite a peculiar face too. 

- Will teaching the children how to play dominoes

All in all, I’d say that adapting to life in Burkina Faso has been a challenge that not only I but every UK volunteer has embraced in all areas. To put it simply, the only advice I could give to anyone is give everything a go. You won’t know how you will react to any situation until it is thrust upon you.

Daryl Smith

This week's activities 

Today we finished the fourth week of our respective projects. On Monday at CEFISE we planned lots of games adapted for people with disabilities: relay, tennis relay, balance boards and Under-Over. Duncan and I were busy running the relay activity, and the atmosphere was fantastic. Then, we benefited from a sign language lesson. It was mostly about the alphabet and learning certain useful expressions. Our teacher, the director of CEFISE taught the lesson in a relaxed manner until 10am, when a group composed of  Moussa, Yvette, Daryl, Djelika and Jana did a disability awareness session with the students of 6è2. 

-Will, Jonas at Moussa ready for sensibilisation in CEFISE

On Tuesday we did the same activities except that the disability awareness session was the responsibility of Catherine, Will, Rachid, Duncan and Jonas. Will and I were in charge of the balance boards with the children of the maternelle class (3-6 years old), with the aim of assessing their balance. So that the activities went more smoothly, the children’s teachers assisted to ensure the children behaved themselves. On Wednesday after the warm-up Duncan and I led the relay. 
- Pupils of CEFISE Practical awareness session

Thursday was the turn of ABPAM to receive 5 of the HSB-ISD team. Catherine, Yvette, Jana, Duncan and Rachid ran a session involving goalball and cord-relay. The other members of the team ran a practical awareness session for the 6è1 students at CEFISE who the team had delivered a theory-based awareness session for the week before. The objective was to convey to the students that a disability is not a barrier to playing sport. 

- Daryl and Moussa after a session at ABPAM

On Friday we ran an inclusive sports session for CE1 and CE2 students at ABPAM, but there weren’t many of them. Nonetheless everything was fantastic. Returning to the office the team wished each other a good weekend and looked forward to returning to work on Monday to deliver more inclusive sports sessions in an always friendly environment.

Moussa Tougma

Keeping the theme of community development in mind, all UK and national volunteers would agree that the most important part of any community is people getting involved. 

For more information on the work of HSB-ISD you can visit our facebook and twitter pages: 

Facebook - Burkina Faso Inclusive Sport

Twitter - @BF_inclusive 


  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog guys. Keep up with this great job you 're doing over there. Good luck!

    1. Thanks Valentina - it's great to hear your thoughts! We should have another blog up by the end of the week, courtesy of Jana & Yvette this time.