Mar 29, 2011


I wanted to hate France.

I was excited to travel and see family, but after witnessing the horrible and demeaning visa process for Elisée, I officially stated my hatred for all things France and vowed to never return.

But then I arrived in Paris.


I mean, how can anyone hate Paris? The beauty, the culture, the history, it was all so incredible! And despite the stereotypes of Parisians being stiff arrogant pricks, I was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the locals.

 La famille

Contemplating art inside the Louvre

In the 10 days I was there we visited everything a tourist could see, from the Eiffel tower to the catacombs. We visited museums, strolled along the Seine, picnicked in Bois du Boulogne. We took the metro quite a bit but I’m pretty sure we walked on every street corner of Paris.
With FAVL unable to escape our minds, we visited France’s national library and were lucky enough to visit Paris during the huge ‘Salon du Livre’ exposition where I was able to buy numerous books for Pobé’s library.

Overall the trip was a much needed and wonderful vacation. My only disappointment was the food, though I of course I gorged myself on plenty of pastries, wine and cheeses.

 The moms and I in front of Notre Dame

Centre Pompidou

 view of death inside Paris' catacombs

Mar 16, 2011

Work (finally) and more

A couple weeks ago was FESPACO, the biennial African film festival that takes place in Ouagadougou. During its last occurrence two years ago I stayed in village and didn’t attend any FESPACO events, so I made sure to participate this year. I saw several well-made and interesting films, though I really loved some of the short 20 minute films. My favorite was “Lezare (for today)” by the Ethopian Zelalem Woldemariam.

My mother complains that I don’t write enough on my blog about the work I do with FAVL. Like I mentioned in a previous posting, work mostly includes fundraising, publicity for FAVL, developing relationships with local governments and organizations, etc. I really enjoy the work but I don’t know; maybe it’s just me but I feel like even if I were the next Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky I still couldn’t make reading about grant writing very appealing to readers. I do, however, write quite a bit about our work activities on FAVL's blog if anyone asides my mom is curious. Have said that, this past weekend we did organize two fundraisers that were time consuming in terms of preparations but a lot of fun:

Race for Reading

 Race for Reading runners in Parc Bangr Weogo; handing out the prize to 6km winner Ronald

I run a couple times a week at a nearby park with Elisee and one morning he mentioned that we should organize a race to help raise funds for the FAVL libraries. This idea turned into Race for Reading, a 3K and 6K walk/run which we held on Saturday morning, March 12th. Overall it went well, though we seemed to have quite a bit against us. Recently students have been organizing massive demonstrations in towns and cities all over Burkina over the controversial death of a student after being beaten by police. While the circumstances surrounding his death may or may not be true, it has become a catalyst for several massive demonstrations against the government.
Despite the protests, we had enough participants to have a decent race. It was an amicable, family friendly race with all participants expressing their happiness with the race's organization and vows to participate in future events.

Jungle Party

On the evening of March 12th, FAVL was once again the recipient of the raffle during Jungle Party, an event organized by a local expat. It’s a night of music, dancing and drinks that like Race for Reading, took place in the Parc Bangr Weogo. FAVL went around selling raffle tickets throughout the night and at the end, received all the money from tickets sold. It’s a good event and honestly, a relatively easy way for FAVL to receive money (the entire event is organized by the expat, FAVL just needs to get certificates contributed by different stores and businesses for the raffle). I guess I enjoyed the Jungle Party but I don’t know, it’s just not really my type of scene. It’s awkward, reminding me of some 8th grade dance, with boys on one side and girls on the other, the dance floor empty in the middle. Except it’s even MORE awkward because everyone there is like 35 years old. Only around 1 a.m., once the drinks have gotten into people’s systems, does the dance floor start to fill up (Hopefully this last part doesn't resemble an 8th grade dance but with kids these never know!).

On the 18th I’m heading to France for 10 days. There I’ll meet up with my mom, aunt and cousin (who I haven’t seen in 3 years!). I must admit, I very much dislike France right now, especially anything/anyone involved with the French embassy in Burkina, who I find treats people (especially those who happen to be Black) like diseased animals. Despite my feelings, I am incredibly excited to be able to see my family and I know we will have an amazing time together. I haven’t been to Europe since 5th grade and I’ve never been to Paris. I’m a little worried about the weather. FIFTY degrees? I was freezing by butt off during Burkina’s “cold” season when it was 75 degrees!

 SANOU Dounko, FAVL’s activities coordinator, was recently in Pobe-Mengao for two weeks to train a new FAVL librarian. On his return I met up with him and got a wonderful update on the library complete with lots of pictures. Check out the Pobe-Mengao library blog  to read more.