Jun 19, 2008

Hello from Burkina Faso!

It has only been about 2 weeks since I have been here but I feel that so much has changed! After arriving in Burkina Faso the volunteers spent some time in Ouaga (the capital) and Ouahigouya. But now and for the next 3 months I am living with my new adopted family. While the secondary education volunteers enjoy the "luxury" of living in the city with electricity, all the GEE volunteers are located in small, rural villages.

I and 3 other GEE volunteers are living in a small, remote village about 8 to 10K from Ouahigouya. I absolutely love my family. My family is a very large Muslim family (and by large I mean 34 members living in the family compound!!). The family includes my father, his 3 wives, their children, the sons'families, gandchildren etc...Most do not speak French. However one teenage daughter Kedija speaks French very well which is great for me. Several of the others speak a little french as well.

Despite the language barrier my family is sooo nice, friendly and welcoming. I already feel like i am apart of the family. They are excited to teach me how to cook, wash clothes and dance! Every night after I return from training I take my bucket bath (which may not sound like much but in this crazy hot weather my 2 bucket baths morning and night are the highlights of my day!), eat and all the kids and family crowd around me outside my hut to talk, laugh, and teach me Fufulde, the local language that I am currently learning! One of the earliest coping methods you have to have here is how to laugh at yourself. People here love to laugh, with you and AT you, especially when you try to speak their language. I love that sense of humor is so important here.

The only hard adjustment right now I would say is the food...carbs carbs everywhere! One of the sons is responsible for my breakfast and dinner. Meals cooked for me, include one pound of spaghetti with oily sauce or 1 lb of rice with oily sauce and I'm often served an entire loaf of baguette. A reality check for me was realizing children do not all have big bellies because of lack of food here. They have enough food it is just WHAT they eat. They are very much limiited by what they can eat....very little fruits, veggies, protein and other important nutrients. Luckily during training we are a bike ride away from Ouahugoya where I can buy fruits, nuts and even some "American-like" things.

My home is a small but very nice mud hut located in the middle of the family compounnd. It is nice but extremeley hot at night, so one of my favorite times is at night. I sleep under the moon and stars (and my bug tent!). About four of the girls sleep on a mat by my side to "protect" me and keep me company. Such an amazing experience and great way to escape the heat! Like i said my family is Muslim, so every morning around 4:30 to 5 am I am awakened by the call to prayer, and their mosque or prayer area is literally 20 feet from my hut!

I may not have been here long but i absolutely love it here. i feel like i have learned so much in such a short time....taking pleasure in all the little things and realizing how much i take for granted. Whether it is learning Fufulde during my language lessons, biking into Ouahugoya to purchase a mango from a street vendor, or spending time laughing with my family, i am loving every minute of every day here.

Till next time :)
P.S. I am having problems uploading photos so next time i will try to upload them to another website and see if that works... hopefully i can get them up soon!

Jun 9, 2008


I arrived in Phili Saturday evening. I've been shocked with the weather. It's extremeley HOT and HUMID. At 8:30 p.m. it was still over 94 degrees. I guess it's good prep for Africa!
Our pre-service training has been interesting...and a bit long. There are 31 of us off to Burkina Faso, split just about evenly but maybe a few more girls than guys. Everyone's young, in their mid or late twenties.
Basically we've spent the entire past two days in one of the hotel conference rooms going over pre-service training, things such as the Peace Corps mission, our aspirations, fears and other basic things. A lot of it was writing down things on a notebook and drawing pictures, at times I felt like I was back in 2nd grade lol. We had no time to sight see in Philadelphia. However a few of us arrived Saturday on early flights. So on Sunday Leah, Elsa and I (all from Cali...way to represent!) went on a long walk around Phili, got to see Penn University (such a gorgeous campus!) and wadded in the fountain at Logan Circle.

Tomorrow we start the morning with some shots!! Then we head to the airport and are off to Ouagadougou!!!! (with a stop in Paris). I am soooo excited and so READY to get there. Still not nervous, just ready. Let's get this started!