Ca Fait Deux Jours
“That makes two days!” That it is how the Burkinabe say “I haven’t seen you in a long time.” I should say that I owe my lack of blogging to a great deal of uncertainty leading to an eventful trip to Ouagadougou. I shouldn’t say exactly what that uncertainty was, as I need to save some cool stories for when I get back to the States and I feel this leverage will enhance my street cred. Nevertheless, I am happy to be back home in my town now after a mini “evacation” in Ouaga. Ouaga is a surreal experience. I remember first arriving in the capital city (now 10 months ago!) after living in Southern California and thinking there is NOTHING here. Now, after 7 months in my small town, I see Ouaga as a futuristic booming metropolis where the beer flows like wine and scantily clad women actually show their knees. It is a near-mythical land of pizza, hamburgers, draft beer, and FanChoco (a legal non-narcotic form of crack for Volunteers). Also, I added a new addiction to my repertoire and she goes by the name of Settlers of Catan. For those who don’t know this game, you will when I get back to the US. In all, I put on some weight and got better acquainted with some really cool people.
At the same time, however, in all of the glitz and glamour of the big city I felt I was forgetting where I am and what I am here to do. I guess it is maybe healthy in some way to take that break but when I am trying so hard to integrate into a culture and a community I don’t want to lose any progress that I have made. Peace Corps has a “transit house” in a Ouaga neighborhood where the Volunteers can stay when they are in town but we generally keep to ourselves and don’t interact much with the neighbors. So in an effort to ground ourselves as well as establish a presence in our local Ouaga community, myself and some other Volunteers (Dylan, Luis, and Shannon) decided to do some work and get to know our neighborhood in Ouaga. We planned on teaching some diversity and nutrition classes at an elementary school but due to some other circumstances we ended up instead creating pepinieres (plant nurseries) for a whole bunch of Moringa trees (Moringa is highly promoted by Peace Corps because its leaves are extremely nutritious). We found some kids and got them to help us collect plastic bags on the ground and fill them with dirt for the pepinieres. The kids definitely made it more fun and they turned out to be pretty good workers. We didn’t necessarily make a huge difference in the community but it was rewarding when we saw the same group of kids later and they called us by name instead of “nasara”. At least it’s a start. Here are some pictures of our project: