Thursday, April 23, 2015

First Slice of the Action

Here we hear from each of the volunteers as they share their thoughts of their first full week of activities.

Rowan and Hassan struggling sans internet in the office

So it has been a slow start for us here at HSB-ISD. This week our new problem to tackle has been the lack of internet at the office. Due to budget cuts we have now been disconnected and have to source other hotspots in a city which is around 95% internet-less. We’ve therefore struggled to research the best ways to get new equipment or send out emails to potential partners or sponsors.
Away from the office however, we have had a great week! Monday brought our first session in CEFISE – a school for the deaf and hard of hearing with a large dusty courtyard nestled between open classrooms and leafy trees – a beautiful spot to run around throwing balls, twirling hoops, and balancing beanbags in the mornings! It also sports a charming headmistress who built the school with her husband and opened it to those with and without hearing impairments, equipping the able-eared with a great new skill (and one that we are also learning) – sign language. That Monday morning I was a dusty sweat-ball. Hoops, rings, cones, and skipping ropes were flung in every which direction and I spent the entire hour chasing (or flailing) after them. It seems the kids are happy the games are back!

French sign language

This week we also had extra Moore lessons and on Wednesday we were sent solo (equipped only with a few thousand cfa and our new language skill) into the market to barter and bargain with the Burkinabe sellers. The market was a maze of narrow walkways held together by broken branches and seemed more a place of siesta than of energetic exchange. I emerged with 8 mangoes, an avocado, and little pocket of coconut water – all for 300 cfa (40p)!

Up until Wednesday we remained at CEFISE and I noticed that a common celebratory move was a running cartwheel – and naturally, I really wanted to join in. So this week I’ve been trying to source some gymnastic equipment, which seems impossible in this city as it is not really a recognised sport and in reality, the kids don’t seem to notice the stones embedded in their hands, or the hard impact of the ground on their knees (in fact, the soles of their feet are far more weathered and sturdy than the soles of my designer Birkenstocks!).

Action grandma shot
Thursday and Friday we worked at Festival Passana demonstrating blind-running and goalball in the street as a form of awareness-raising. We also witnessed our first wheelchair basketball match which was a huge success and during which some of us ‘Nazaras’ were invited to play (needless to say we were rubbish is comparison and dribbling whilst wheeling made us look more like dyspraxic grandmas than fit athletes). We also sat in on a disability conference and witnessed a heated debate about the morality of many men out here in Burkina who believe that sleeping with a disabled woman will rid them of their sins and bring them future fortune (!)  

All-in-all, a week that started slow but ended with some festival fiesta-ing and a successful sponsorship by Rowan’s old camp in America! Never before have I been so excited by the possibility of new sports gears –gymnastics mats anyone?!      

Semaine plus ou moins mouvementée par des séances de sport avec les enfants de CEFISE et d’ABPAM et bien d’autres activités parmi les quelles je noterais la séance d’apprentissage sur le langue de signe le lundi 13 et notre participation au festival PASSANA au Reemdogo le vendredi 17.

Notons qu’au festival PASSANA nous avons assisté à une conférence-débat très émouvante sur la sexualité des femmes en situation de handicap. Après cette conférence nous avons non seulement animé un stand dans lequel nous avons appris aux festivaliens le sport que nous pratiquions avec les enfants mal entendant et malvoyants, mais également nous avons assister à un super match de basket des personnes en situation de handicap physique.
Gwladys ZOGONA

This past week, our first full week at work, has been a huge learning curve for me. Due to my, lets say slightly below par French, communicating with the children at APBAM (school for children with visual impairments) can at times be difficult. The national volunteers however have been really helpful and always lend a hand in getting messages across to the children and are continuously teaching me useful words and phrases.
Arts and crafts at ABPAM
The children at both APBAM and CEFISE are great, all very welcoming and are always really eager to participate in our activities. So far I feel our sessions are working well. The children seem to really enjoy taking part and even get quite competitive against their peers when it comes to racing against each other within an activity.

This last week has also brought about our first lessons in French sign language, ran by the headmistress of CEFISE ‘Miss Kafado’. These lessons have been very helpful so far. Continuing them will improve our delivery of the sessions and of a will enable us to lead at a higher quality.
J`FIzzo (Iain POWELL)

La semaine sportive. C’est la première du genre parce que depuis lundi matin nous sommes là-dedans et cela a continué jusqu’au vendredi. Elle a été un peu fatigante mais intéressante. A cela s’est ajouté le langage de signes qui est assez cool. J’ai passé une bonne semaine sportive, repartie entre le sport, présentation, planification etc… Peace.


For the past two weeks we have been providing morning sport sessions in two schools- ABPAM (a primary school for visual impaired children) & CEFISE (a primary school for children with hearing impairments). As well as the sessions we have spent time planning for awareness raising sessions to go into schools, festivals to show awareness raising, discussing how we can make the charity more sustainable and finally improving our language skills (French, French sign language & Moore) so we can communicate with the varied pupils we lead sessions to. It is very obvious all the children love the sessions we provide to them and some of the teachers do spectate the lessons to see what we do with the children.

My main aims for the time I’m here would be trying to organise more funding/increasing the budget we have to provide sessions/equipment to more schools. I feel budgets are needed to be put in place in order for money not to be wasted and to make sure there is always reasoning towards expenditure however with the budget we have, as a cohort with the current budget we are un able to progress any further than the previous cohorts have taken HSB-ISD. To be able to move this programme forward having things like internet are indispensable, however current budget cuts have meant the internet is to be stopped. This means attempting to upload such things like blogs etc takes an exceptional amount of time to upload when it should really be quick and simple, which also means a lot of time is wasted.
Friday's conference 'Women with disabilities sharing their experiences'

Secondly, I think we should try to show progression/differentiation in each session with the same class. With CEFISE this shouldn’t be too difficult but with ABPAM I think we may struggle slightly, though it’s merely down to not being aware of too many sports/games that we can do for visually impaired children.

To address the funding issue we have been researching organisations to who we can contact to ask for aid. We have been asking for one off donations but also regular smaller donations as well as that will be more useful when working out the quarterly budgets. An increase in budget would mean we are able to branch out to more schools, but also purchase more equipment to be able to let the schools we have previously visited and teachers educated which means they can then provide their own sessions – this will also help with making the charity more sustainable.

For the second issue we just need to research more visual impaired specific sessions and look to see how we can progress the sessions (not just visually impaired sessions) but to also maybe look into specifying the sessions for ages/year groups as well. This will permit pupils not getting bored with the sessions that are being provided- This has not happened yet, but in time if the sessions are not varied then it could result in it.

Overall the past 2 weeks have been very enjoyable/interesting however I think already it has become apparent that some more work is needed in order to work towards making this programme more sustainable.

Le travail de la semaine a débuté avec des séances de sport au CEFISE (Lundi, Mardi, Mercredi) qui est une école mixte, pour les sourds et les entendants. Ces 3 jours ont été respectivement consacré aux séances de sport des classes de CE2, CE1, CP2. Plusieurs activités étaient au menu notamment : le lancer de ballon, le jeu des cônes, le up and down, le relais…
Sports at CEFISE

Ce fut des sessions très enthousiasmantes mais aussi super marrantes, car il fallait à chaque fois remettre de l’ordre dans les rangs, rappeler les règles du jeu et même souvent séparer quelques bagarres entre les enfants… C’était très réjouissant de voir même les touts petits réussir les exercices et bien s’amuser !!! Nous avons également fait des séances de langue de signe, c’était très chic. Le jeudi 16 et le vendredi 17 ont été consacré aux séances sportives avec les enfants de l ‘ABPAM (enfants aveugles ou ayant une déficience visuelle). Lors de la matinée du jeudi plusieurs jeux ont été faits notamment le zoom-ball, le relais et la balance… Après cette séance très intéressante, nous nous sommes tous déportés à la cantine de l’école où chaque enfant a reçu de la pâte à modeler. Chacun, à sa manière, a fait des dessins tels qu’ils pouvait : des chaises, des chèvres, des poules…


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