The past couple weeks of training seemed to have gone by so slowly. I know training is important but there are things about it I really dont like, for example at times I feel like Im just in a 3-month long summer camp. Im anxious to get to site and start feeling productive. There's only 3 more weeks of training which is pretty exciting!
Interesting events that have happened within the last 2 weeks:I played basketball for the first time since my arrival here! A few of the trainees and I went to play at an outside court and ended up playing against some of the local guys here.
Lucky for us the national sport in Burkina is soccer, not b ball, so we short, pale, nerdy trainees didnt get our butts killed lol. Had a lot of fun playing and it felt good!
The GEE volunteers wen to AIMEE, a local NGO that specializes in health but also specifically on HIV and Aids. We learned a lot about what the NGO does, not just physically taking care of the sick but going out to small villages to educate and increase awareness. But the most interesting part for me was separating into small groups and informally talking with several patients and Burkinabes living with HIV/Aids. It was my first time ever talking one-on-one with someone living with AIDS, let alone living with AIDS in Africa so it was an incredible experience for me. I talked to 3 different people, one of whom was this motivated, pro active woman who told us everything from how/when she found out she was HIV + to the barriers she faced along the way including the perceptions/stereotypes of those ignorant about the disease, especially in villages. When I am at site I have already planned to do a lot of sex education for young girls but I think HIV/Aids is also near the top of my list. Even though the percentage is low in Burkina compared to other countries in Africa, its still high and more education/awareness about the disease and prevention is always needed.
Those whove talked with me know that FOOD has been an issue for me (the fact that I am unable to cook for myself or get any variety.) So obviously our tech session on nutrition where the trainees in each village were able to cook their own meal was amazing!!! All the cooking tools were brought to Komsilga where Brian, Kait and myself cooked up a delicious brunch.
On the menu: homemade banana bread with M&Ms!!! (Amen to care packages!!!), scrambled eggs with onions, green peppers and tomatoes, french toast and fruit salad! It was soooo good. Obviously, we had some minor setbacks. One being when the PC arrived with our cooking supplies from the city they forgot one critical thing: the stove... so they had to go back to get it and it took more than one hour. We started very late and ended up delaying everyone elses cooking time as well. As for the banana bread, the recipe asked for baking powder but all we had was baking soda so the banana bread didnt rise and turned out more like banana mush/cake....however it was still delicious!
Ever since training started I have been learning the local language of Fulfulde. Yet at my site visit i quickly leaned that unfortunately, Fulfulde is not really spoken in my village. The main languages spoken there are Moore and Karunfe. SOOOO...Ive had to start language over again, this time learning Moore. The fun thing about it though is that because of my situation where unlike the other trainees I dont have to take French, I have my own one on one tutoring with a man called Patrice. Patrice is a young, energetic, "cool" guy but an intense teacher. Moore is tough! And being the only student in the class, I have no chance to daydream and not focus. Hes always quizzing me, asking me to read/repeat stuff...I feel like Im back in school again!! But over the past couple of days with him I have learned 2 very interesting things. One, hes not just Patrice the teacher but Patrice the music star. He came out with a CD a couple years ago and is currently working on a new albulm set to come out around November. PLUS, 2 years ago Patrice also had a music video that played on the tv stations here! He showed it to be on his cell phone. Music-wise, it was actually really good stuff. Id say a mix of traditional/modern African music. But the video is hilarious! In several scenes he's decked out in a gray pin striped-suit singing while sitting on the diving board of a pool of some huge house in Burkina. And its not big chested women dancing in the background but stick-thin men in matching outfits, swaying their hips and snapping their fingers. Its Big Pimpin Africa style. I loved it. Im defintiely buying his new CD when it comes out...I guess you never know who your teachers are outside the classroom.
Something new I learned on Burkinabe culture: Thursday morning Patrice is lost in thought, not really concentrating so I ask him whats up. He tells me Wendsday night his wife gave birth to their first son!!! Im like "Patrice, what the hell are you doing HERE go see your wife and new born son!!" Ends up he cant just leave work like that, he has to wait until Saturday before he can go back home in Ouaga. This is where I am confused. You see, here in Burkina, the grandma of your wife's friend's sister's neighbor dies and its EXPECTED that you NOT come into work because you have to go to the funeral and pay respects to the family. But your wife gives birth to your newborn son and you cant leave work to go see them? Patrice explains to me that here, culterally, sad events are treated a lot differently than happy events. You can leave work for sad events, but aparently its a lot more difficult when the event is joyful. I learn something new everyday.