Feb 14, 2009


My New Year’s resolution was to get busy, get crackin and I think I’m off to a good start. My clubs are going wonderfully. A brief run down:

So far the sports club is really just a soccer club, which the girls love. My limited knowledge of soccer worried me but Sita has come to my rescue, putting them through drills and excercises, teaching the girls (and me) all about soccer. As of now the club is very informal and just for fun, I always laugh watching the girls scrimmage eachother. Instead of playing their positions and spacing out, every single girl runs after the ball, so its looks like one big glob of girls attacking the ball.

Art club is going great! They absolutely love drawing and decorating with stickers but I really get the impression they just enjoy being able to actually relax for once, laughing with eachother, and not having to work around the house getting water or preparing dinner.

The theater club has been the biggest success so far. Ive seen shy, quiet girls transform into divas, creating incredible improvisation scenes. The girls' passion and talent truly amazes me. For example, one day I told them to start thinking/planning/outlining a skit on a theme of their choice, expecting it to take weeks or even months. After one hour they had not only discussed and outlined the theme of forced marriage but created a completely improvised play! In addition, Ive met with the director of the new radio station in Djibo about creating a program about issues on girls education/health/forced marriage etc. She loved the idea and in fact had been looking to do such programs. It's still in the preliminary stages but Im thinking of having the girls perform skits on air, hosting debates where listeners call in and having contests with prizes. Other volunteers in the area are interested in collaborating so I have a feeling its going to be a lot of fun! A MUST for me though, will be in between the educational info to play some real American music. Ive been shocked and horrified at the amount of country music played here. I never thought Id ever have to hear the words “She's in love with a rodeo man” in Burkina!!

Lastly my coed education club is also off to a great start. I focus on English, helping them out on grammer and vocab and other areas they have problems with. But just last week I held an informal HIV/AIDS session with them and it went great, especially considering Ive never done it before, let alone in French! But I talked about the basics, what it is, how one can become infected, prevention methods, etc.. A lot of questions were asked and answered and I could tell they learned a lot. Yet at the end I could see one or two young men were still unconvinced of the efficiency of the condoms, so theres still work to be done. In fact, more and more I'm seeing the necessity of having informal sex ed sessions/discussions with them as well. My clubs are great but they arent just clubs, they also serve as day care centers where the girls bring, not their siblings, but their own infants.

This is really cheesy, but some of the girls have become my closest friends. Even outside of the clubs several will show up at my house to say hi and talk. They love asking questions about the U.S and they love looking through my magazines. Of course, I have to be careful. Remember, Pobe is a mostly Muslim village. Seeing breasts is common but covering up your legs is a must. So you can imagine the awkwardness in the air while the girls were looking through my Women's Health magazine, full of women in spandex shorts and sports bras demonstrating butt tightening excercises! “Arent they embaressed?” one girl asked me. I tried to explain the more liberal attitude of Americans but I made sure to quickly skip over the article titled “More Sex Less Stress.”

My cousin Camille, a teacher in Quebec and I have been collaborating together. One evening she called me while I was surrouded by students and they got to talk to her students, exchanging questions and answers about life in Burkina and Canada. Later on I had about 30 students write letters which I sent to Camille, so the students will have new Canadian penpals. They were all so excited about it and anxious to receive letters back.

Ive been dealing with Quebec a lot lately. A couple weeks ago 3 members of a foreign NGO that had donated money for a garden and cantine program to the primary school came to observe their work. Where were they from? Montreal! Small world. They were only there for a few hours but in all honesty, I was never so happy to hear the words “ouin” “zzc'est la…” and even a beloved “esti” J

Students greeting the Canadian NGO members

As for other news in Pobe, life is good! My house recently went through a makeover. Sita painted my door and windor trim green. He topped it off by painting the initiatials K.M (Konfe Mariam, the local name given to me) above my door.

Lesson learned this month: beware of “faux types.” Whenever I travel outside of village I always meet some interesting characters, some good some bad, some nice, some just after something. I thought I had mastered my faux type radar, but apparently not. On a bus ride to Djibo a young man sitting next to me started talking to me. He was a teacher in a nearby village, and we spoke for maybe 5 minutes. A very informal, casual conversation that I forgot about quickly. So of course I was shocked when 2 ½ weeks later I come home from school to find him sitting outside my door! He came to visit and asked people around town to find out where I lived. In Burkina showing up randomy at the home of people you barely know isn’t such a huge deal, but I definitely wasn’t too comfortable with this! Luckily Sita was there and noticing my discomfort, stayed with us the whole time. Sita was polite, he made tea and we all ate lunch, but later on kindly told him that “you just don’t do that with foreigners” and that it would be smart if he never came back.

This weekend I stayed in Komsilga for a weekend host family reunion! It was great to see my host family again. We laughed and talked and had a great time. The Tal family are truly kind and generous people who I hope to continue to visit often during my time here.