Jan 12, 2010

New Year

I know it's a little late but Happy New Year! On New Years' eve John (volunteer who came to Djibo in December from Guinea) and I decided to start 2010 with a good ol' campout in the middle of the desert. (When I told my mom this, she responded "WHY? Isn't that what you've been doing for the past 1 1/2 years?")
We packed a small bag, hiked for about one hour outside of Djibo, found a spot that was relatively rock-free and pitched our tent for the night. As the sun set, I realized how absolutely beautiful the dessert can be. Who knew! We made a fire and ate the feast we had prepared earlier. I had managed to find those little sparkler sticks which we wanted to line up on the ground and light up to celebrate. Well, the ground was rock solid and theres not a lot of usable items out in the middle of the desert. But we found our solution (I wont go into details but lets just say I discovered yet another use for dried cow patties) and had our selves a mini fireworks session. Our plan was to stay up to welcome the new year but when dark falls at 6pm and you're out in the middle of nowhere, well, things dont really work out that way. We were both fast asleep by 9pm. (Always embaressing when your parents call to wish you a Happy New Year. "Sorry, did I wake you? I though you'd be out partying!" -Nope Ive been asleep for the past 3 hrs)

Also, Pobe had a secial visitor, Nikki Smith. She was a Peace Corps volunteer (teacher) in Pobe from 02-04! She stayed several days in village with her fiancee Dave. It was so great meeting them and having them in village. I was really impressed with Nikki's amazing skills in Moore. Even after 6 years she was still fluent. I had to admit I was embaressed (and jealous) when I had to ask for Nikki's help to translate and understand. It was really interesting to hear about her life experiences in Pobe: her work, friends and daily routine, and see how truly different volunteers' experiences are from one another...even when in the same village. Despite the differences it was obvious to see that we both had a genuine love for Pobe and its people.
Saphoura, who couldn't get enough of the enriched bouille
John, a Small Enterprise and Development volunteer, is working on a project at Djibo's Maison de La Femme selling enriched bouille (porrigde). He came to Pobe on a market day to test out the product and see if there would be any interest in village. I don't think he was expecting much, more curious than anything else. But Bouille Enrichie turned out to be HUGE in Pobe. First we went to a couple boutiques to see if they would be interested in stocking the product. They all said yes and bought several packakges on the spot. Then we went to the crowded market to tackle individuals. I found a spot next to a group of women vendors, laid out the packages of bouille on a small clean tarp, had my tating samples out and ready, and started yelling out : (imagine a newspaper boy yelling in a "COME AND GET IT " style)
"Wandaya wandaya!! Mam tara beere! Mam tara beere ne vitamin! A taara benga, nanguri, sucre ne yamsen! Yaa noogo. Yaa sooma wusgo" (Come and buy, come and buy! I have porridge! I have porridge with vitamins! it has beans, peanuts, sugar and salt! Its delicious!)
Now obviously the locals were all laughing and loved to see this crazy nassara making a fool of herself while attempting to yell out in local language...but hey, I drew a crowd. Not only did I draw a crowd but we were able sell every package of bouille. And once we sold out of packages we told the others to go buy them from the boutiques, which they did....until those sold out too. Not only did Pobe completely sell out but one boutiquier went all the way to Djibo that evening to buy more...only to sell out again! So it was a great day and John was thrilled. If the people continue to buy the bouillie, which is good for everyone to eat but is especially great for malnurished children, this is a very good thing and everyone benefits from it.

My second attempt of getting henna was much more successful than the first. Ramata literally spent hours painting my hands and feet, and I loved the outcome.
Congrats to Hamidou, our new librarian! Despite the grant money dissapointment, things are really coming along. Hamidou just completed an intensive 2 week training down in Bereba (village of FAVL's 1st library). As of today we've raised over $9,400 so we're extremeley close to our goal! A large number of books have been bought and we fully expect to have our opening ceremony by April. Dave, Nikki's fiancee made an amazing video which is posted on the library blog.