Feb 25, 2010

Big news in Pobe

One early morning I’m lounging at home when I hear this rhythmic drumming noise from outside. Curious, I peek my head out to see this herd of people marching down the roads, each with some kind of tool: straw brooms, shovels, rakes and even a wheelbarrow in hand. Ends up that a youth group in village decided that Pobé-Mengao was getting to dirty. They approached the Maire who provided them with tools and supplies for a voluntary community cleanup. For three days the group went around the entire village, even in people’s courtyards, sweeping trash together to burn.The drumming sound I was hearing was a man beating a stick on an old paint drum, keeping a steady beat and entertaining the workers. It was so wonderful to see this community outreach, driven by the YOUTH, who care about keeping their village clean. (I realize burning trash isn’t the most eco-friendly thing to do but still…here you don’t have much choice and you can’t ignore their great intentions)

This month in Pobé-Mengao, nassarras were everywhere. First, a French couple here for the entire month working with the health clinic and helping malnourished children followed by a large group of 9 men and women from Poland, here to help with the primary and secondary schools. Their visits made me think a lot about my work as a volunteer. Both groups came with a lot of money, giving gifts left and right to everyone. At first I was, in all honesty, annoyed and upset. Everyone was so thrilled to be receiving these free expensive gifts (supplies for the schools and health clinic, generators, toys, games, food, etc). I was jealous even. I’ve been here nearly 2 years now, trying my best with no money to do what I can to help, and in less than 2 weeks these people come here and are able to do so much more. Questions ran through my mind. Am I really helping anyone here? Isn’t giving the people free handouts all the time only enforcing their dependency on foreign aid? How is this sustainable?
After a while though, I realized that what Im doing here, while on a much smaller scale than them, is still important. The things I’ve been trying to help the peole of pobe with are not necessarily material things or gifts, but mostly education, information and a better knowledge of things. While the results of this might not be able to be evaluated easily and wont have a finishd prokect to show for it, its still important. As another volunteer sold me “They are giving the people want they want. You are helping give them what they need”

Elisee with Pobes famous Mamyou

Elisee, FAVL’s regional coordinator came from Ouaga to visit Pobe and the library. He was impressed and says we’re off to a good start. We still plan to have the opening in April and have been working hard for this to happen, setting up the room and organizing the books, which has been long but at times entertaining. For example, we got a wonderful donation of 130 books from FAVLs library in Bereba, but I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw a biography on (you Quebec folks should like this) Diane Dufresne. But you never know. Seeing a book by Jimmy Carter I wondered how many people would ever want to read it. But literally 5 minutes later I hear Hamidou say “Im trying to find this book I really got into when I was training in Bereba. This book by that old American President guy…”

March is off to an amazing start. We received news that Friends of Burkian Faso approved our grant proposal of $2,000! With this approval we have not only reached our $10,000 goal but surpassed it. As of today we are officially a FAVL-managed library!!!!
The month of march will be busy in preparation of our opening ceremony in early April. Right now, things are getting really busy and exciting!