Monday, May 18, 2015

One Month To Go!

With one month left to go in Burkina Faso – this blog explores how we have adapted to life here in one of the poorest countries with some of the harshest elements in the world. Scorching heat, limited water, power cuts more frequent than a delayed train in London, and a food variety ubiquitous to almost all maquis of: rice, spaghetti, or an interesting mound of gelatinous millet called ‘tÔ’. Since day 1 our sweat glands have been in overdrive, our fingernails have been constantly filthy, and our stomachs have been host to a number of alien bacteria with some less than pleasant outcomes. Yet here we all are, still standing strong with one month left in this African nation full of the most carefree and hospitable people I’ve ever met!

The whole HSB team before our awareness-raising event at Lycee Marien! 

Firstly, I suppose we must mention the heat, which is arguably the greatest change. Resembling a constant and inescapable sauna – the 45 degrees that sweeps the country can certainly be debilitating, draining us of essential salts and subsequent energy. This week we again have had no electricity at work (meaning, amongst other things - no fans!) resulting in us seeking shade in the small leafy courtyard just outside our office, balancing our battery-powered laptops on our knees and praying for a breeze. To keep spirits high and naps at bay – we pepper our days with sugary snacks brought by national volunteers, have regular group discussions, and culturally exchange our music tastes blasting African, French, British, and American tunes to simultaneously sing along to and improve our language skills!   

The leafy courtyard that has been transformed into our workplace 

Our shower bucket 
As a precious and scarce resource; water out here is limited. With a single bucket and kettle to shower with, we thought the maintenance of personal hygiene would be a struggle – and though this may be true, the showering was actually surprisingly quick to get used to (though I often have to pilfer a kettle or two from Iain or Rowan’s bucket on hair-wash day.) Showering tends to also be the only time of day that we are anywhere near a reasonable temperature so we often try and prolong the time spent under our kettle stream! The only (relative) hardship we face is when the water is entirely cut and we have to go longer than 24 hours festering in our own dusty sweat – an unpleasant experience for all in close proximity. At the office we have one western-style toilet and one outside tap to cater for both ISD and HSB so water cuts tend to result in us persuading each other that the long drop is swell and following it up with plenty of anti-bac hand sanitiser!

Our useful pouring kettle 
The lack of power has also forced us all out of our dependence on phones, laptops, tablets, and light. We've replaced evenings spent in front of Netflix with a woven mat thrown on the ground to chat, wrestle with the kids, or doze under the moon. The greatest struggle I find with the lack of electricity is navigating the long drop accurately and sleeping sans a fan, which given the circumstances, are both fully manageable! At work things tend to get a little more complicated as many of the office-based duties consist of admin both online and off. This week we were forced to find alternative sources of power – ending up in an internet café only slightly more reliable than the British weather forecast… but nevertheless managing eventually to get emails checked, blogs put up, and our facebook page updated!  

Finally, the change in diet of carb upon carb upon carb has definitely been a shock to the system with a range of differing effects on our metabolisms and body weight – some of us losing up to 2 stone whilst others steadily putting on the timber. The family we have been placed with however could not be more accepting of our different dietary preferences – asking us what we would rather eat and when seeing us visibly struggling with our meal of tÔ and leafy fishy sauce, jumping in and presenting us with alternative omelette sandwiches – amazing! HSB also run a maquis that we often get our lunch from, but on those days when we just cannot face another bowl of rice – the national volunteers (after some persuasion) jump on their motos and fetch us all ‘Pain Anglaise’ – sandwiches consisting of egg, salami, ham, and heaps of mayonnaise – a delicious (but expensive) treat!

Lunchtime! .. these were the first fresh vegetables I came across in Burkina ...
So these are a few of the many things we have had to adapt to whilst on placement here in Burkina Faso. Though initially daunting when thrown at us all at once, they’ve certainly proven the potential and possibility we all possess to live a life without western comforts and made us all the more resourceful and communicative, just like our African counterparts!

Mary Kinsella

What a week !!!
         Bonjour c’est encore moi (Hassan). Cette semaine je rédige le blogue avec Mary. Il faut dire que cette semaine est particulière en son genre ; mais elle est une suite logique de celle passée même si elle n’a pas commencée par le sport au CEFISE. La semaine passée  comme vous le savez a vu la grande sensibilisation au Lycée Marien avec  d’autres équipes. Le lundi nous avons embarqué à bord d’un joli car direction Ziniaré avec  HSB, Arche et TN. Le voyage s’est bien passé, une fois arrivé à Ziniaré direction le Lycée Provincial Bassy pour la sensibilisation. Même si c’était en plein soleil élèves ont répondu présents  si bien que mal nous  a pris à la fin de la sensibilisation. Ensuite nous nous sommes allés à la direction de la rtb2 centre (radiotélévision du Burkina n°2) où nous avons d’abord pris le lunch avant d’assister au match de handi-basket. Le match s’est soldé par une victoire des rouges sur les bleus et juste après pour nous c’était le retour sur Ouaga. Le reste de la semaine on l’a passé au bureau « pas de sport » et puis jeudi était férié pour cause d’ascension (croyance chrétienne).Mais ce qui a été éprouvant c’est l’absence de courant qui bloque pratiquement tout le travail au bureau. Pour finir, Vendredi nous avons, nous volontaires et nos chefs d’équipes évalué le travail du staff de HSB, planifier la semaine à venir avant de rentrer.

une vue des équipes de Basket à Ziniaré

Une photo lors de la sensibilisation au Marien

Hassan Sidibe

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