Blog Hervé Millet
Normally end of February, beginning of March there are what they called the “mangos’ rains”. It is a couple of rain which come at the beginning of the mango season, cleaning them form their dust. Adults say to youngster that mangos are not good before the “mangos’ rains”. Since they do not wash them before eating them it prevents them to get diseases coming with the dirt on the mango. This is so much imbedded in the mind of the people here that even adults who sees mangos along the road will tell you they have not a good taste because the rains have not come.
Mango tree in our house in Bobo.
It has been very warm in the past 2 weeks with very little cooling at night. And then since couple of days, nights have been a bit cooler. Nice!!
The néré tree (African locust bean) with its look alike “Christmas” decoration.
Political situation in Burkina
In May there will be the election of the town councils from which the mayors will be chosen. It is now the time for the various political parties to appoint candidates for the councils. The party which has the majority in the parliament is the MPP. Most of the leaders of this party come from the party of the ex-president Compaore. The way the candidates are appointed is exactly as before: nepotism.
In one of the area of Bobo Dioulasso, the members of the MBB did not agree with the appointment made from the headquarter of the MPP of the leading candidate. They marched several time in Bobo towards the office of the party. One time the women came out with pots and spoon making a lot of noise.
I guess nothing is changing.
Visit of Bona
In February we had planned a visit to the village of Bona. To our surprise, very few people had shown up. We then told them that we could not discuss about projects with so few people. The next week a delegation of the village came to Bobo to excuse the village: it was a problem of communication inside the village(??). They also invite us for the 17 of March.
When we arrive in the village there was a lot of people. They had also chosen the date to be a Thursday (no school day for the primary school). It started with the women dancing.
On one hand it is very good to see so many people, on the other hand it is difficult to properly communicate with this type of crowd. Our message for this trip was: what will Bona do for their youth?
In the villages were we work 50% of the population is under 14 years old. Many young adults who are out of schools are idle in the village at least during the dry season. Some will go to Ivory Coast looking for work, some gold digging and some will try to come to the city in Bobo. This leaves still a lot of young people in the village.
We have been talking many times about this problem, but they do not seem to look for solution themselves. The first question is: will the young adults staying in the village really work during the dry season? The second one is: if they work in the village, will the income generated go to the fathers or can they keep it?
Regarding the second question most probably the answer is no, which makes that the answer is also no to the first one.
We ask the villagers if they could imagine a group of young adult developing an orchard for example. The answer was no coming from the elders. They do not want to give away ground to young males’ adults as a group. But they say that each family can probably dedicate some ground for this purpose.
We also know that enterprise in the village will not work because of social constraint….. We are still looking for answers, but major change of mentalities needs to come at the village level before some proper development can happened.
Odile used this trip to distribute mosquito nets and second hand clothes to the women association. She also presented a locally made improved oven which they will be able to test for a few weeks.
The mosquito nets have been funded by NASF. Woman who wants one needs to contribute € 1,5 per net.
|Presentation by Odile of the improved oven.||Women carrying bags of second hand clothes|
Students went back to school 10 days ago after a 5 days cooling period at their home. We have changed some of our support staff and we are trying to improve the communication between all the different groups staying on the site of the LAP: students, teachers, support personnel… We believe this lack of communication is the main reason of the previous event.
Students were collectively punished (points out on behavior). Midterm vacation have started yesterday for 10 days. This gives us time to put in place or activate existing communication tools at the LAP.
Some more civism cannot hurt. We have started to set up the flag of Burkina each Monday morning and it is brought down on Saturday mid-day.
Children watering the vegetable gardens
The Bearded Barbet.
Barbican a poitrine rouge
Proverb of the week
The words of the elderly might be bitter, but they are full of wisdom.
Les mots des anciens peuvent être amères, mais ils sont pleins de sagesse.
Hope you have a great week.
I am writing this blog a bit late. My head was too busy thinking about events of the past week, more on this under the LAP section. Eugenie is back in NL since yesterday. She will be going to the US to assist Claire our daughter who needs surgery for a breast cancer.
More bottles distribution. This picture in the village of Sokourani
Linda and Robert left last Thursday. They helped us a lot. Temperature is now reaching the 40th Celsius in the day and does not get below 28 at night.
Relation between Burkina and Ivory Coast
Alassane Ouattara, the president of Ivory Coast, came in power with the help of the French, but also with the help from Blaise Compaoré, ex-president of Burkina. When he was thrown out of power by the population of Burkina, he took refuge in Ivory Coast. He has just gotten the Ivorian nationality which protects him from extradition to Burkina.
Last Sunday Robert (nephew) and Linda (girlfriend) arrived for a 10-day visit. With the arrival of the new containers they were immediately put to work: Robert to check computer equipment and Linda to help Eugenie to sort other goods.
It is a time of hazy days. Air is full of dust. Kids are getting pulmonary infection during this time. As a protection, mothers put some karité (shea) butter in the nostrils of the children.
This is already the 5th blog of this trip. Time flies.
Things are rather quiet on the political front. However, when people look at the appointments made by the government and the administration they realize that the nepotism of the previous regime is still here.
It is time for a lot of trees to blossom in Burkina. Mango, shea trees are in full bloom, but this tree with yellow blossom is more spectacular.
Eugénie arrived in Burkina after a long journey coming here straight after a visit to Claire in the USA.
Gardening: activity for the dry season
The dry season is rather long and villagers are looking for income generating activities to fill it in. Gardening is becoming very popular in our area. The main difficulty is to get water and to protect your garden from cows, sheep and goats.
In the village of Sissa, a couple of villagers have started their gardens close to the bed of the river (dry at this time of the year). They get the water from small wells of 3 meters deep.
They are not sure to get water for the whole period of the growth of the vegetables and they have to sleep on site to protect the crops from cattle.
In the village of Nefrelaye they do not have shallow water wells.
One of our projects was to secure about one hectare of land with a fence, where we drilled a water well of 140 meters deep equipped with a downhole pump powered by solar panels. The pump fills water into 2 tanks.
Most of the villages where we are active want to have such project. If you know organization which could help us to fund them, thanks to let us know.
Excision: still a major problem in Burkina
Female genital mutilation is still very much done to young girls in Burkina. We are trying to find out how bad it is in our villages but so far we have not been able to get this information. Excision is penalized in Burkina which is a good thing, but this means also that people do not want to give information about it. Since there is little talk about the body at school, some girls do not even know that they have been excised. We are still looking at how to get this information.
From which tree are these flowers?
The LAP grinding mill
To feed the 226 students at the LAP we use 400 kg of corn per week. This corn needs to be grinded into flour. This flour is cooked into what is called here Tô.
Walking food delivery!
Proverb of the week
A person is a person because of other persons.
Une personne est une personne à cause d'autres personnes.
The sun will shine on those who stand, before it shines on those who kneel before them.
Le soleil brillera sur ceux qui se dressent, avant qu’il brille sur ceux qui s’agenouillent devant eux.
Take care of yourselves,
When I left The Netherlands early January, the nature was a few weeks early for the season due to the warm winter. In Burkina it is the contrary. The rainy season came late, finished late and the cold months also started late. The trees are blooming a couple week late.
Breakfast: yoghurt and papaya
Second week in Burkina. The weather is very dry, temperature between 35oC in the day time and around 20oC at night. The winds coming from the Sahara Desert are always blowing and they bring a lot of dust. It is the period when people have a lot of cold and cough.
I was surprised to have captured a bee on this picture of the flower of a bombax costatum (faux kapokier).
The flower of this tree is used to make a sauce.
After 6 weeks in The Netherlands and US to see family and friends, I am back in Burkina since a week.
Political situation in Burkina
In November Rock Kaboré was elected president of Burkina. He was installed as president end of December 2015. The nominated prime minister is a technocrat (economist) and a large number of the appointed ministers are also technocrats.
A strong positive feeling was among the Burkinabe people, but last night terrorists created uncertainty with an attack in a hotel in Ouagadougou. Not what is needed here.
Coming back from Burkina last Sunday, I had to take a few days rest to recover from a bronchitis. Nothing serious and I am back going around. This explains the lateness of this message. Jeff and his group has left on Monday.
Eugenie besides taking care of me, has been making new mosquito nets for the dormitories and curtains for the students in the school of Bingo.
Only one more week to go for this trip. Eugenie and I accomplished a lot, but it feels like we arrived in Burkina yesterday and not a couple of months ago.
The temperature at night starts to be cool: 22o C. The wind has also picked up and with the dry weather, dust is flying everywhere.
It is the time for harvest for the farmers. In our area, this year’s crops seem to be ok. This means grains in the granary until next year’s harvest.
The political campaign for president and for the parliament has started last Sunday. All monuments are now covered with posters of the 14 candidates for president. Rallies happen in towns but also in smaller villages. Groups of motorbikes going around with posters of their candidate in the front. It is a good time for the printing, chairs / tents renting and sound systems businesses.
Where does the money come from for these campaigns?
Elections will be on November 29th.
Visitors: during this trip twice we had to cancel trips of visitors due to the political instability. Well, a group from France from the Association ‘A Petits Pas’ made it to Burkina.
From left to right: Jean Francois (ASAP advisor), Steve (friend of Jef’s), Jef (vice president of APP), Odile (ASAP BF director) and Angelique (friend of Jef’s).
Parents meeting at the LAP
Board of the parents’ association
We had a meeting with the board of the parents’ association middle of October. This group had to restitute the minutes of this meeting.
We counted about 100 parents (for 226 students). Taking into account that some parents come for several students we were very pleased with the turn out and also with their participation in the discussion.
During the meeting we presented to the parents a very simple tool we have at the LAP to make haystack. A lot of interest.
Some pictures of the LAP
Students in the school yard
I had brought some melon seeds from my uncle in France. They are growing very well.
Students preparing some nursery of onions.
You might remember that I talked about Benjamin, a student of fourth year at the LAP in a previous blog. He has lost 4 family members within 4 weeks. He was worried about the harvest of the family fields and was very depressed. Last Sunday all the 34 boys of his class took a bus to the village of Benjamin and in one day they managed to harvest a very large corn field. Nice of them. Benjamin is smiling again.
Visits in the villages
Nursery school of Oualana
51 children of 5 years old with the personnel of the school.
Meeting with the parents association of the primary schools of Kofila
Participants at the meeting. There are a lot of difficulties to have a quality education at the primary schools. Mainly the lack of motivation of the teachers, the lack of follow up of the parents and the low level of understanding of the pupils why they have to go to school.
No major breakthrough in this meeting, each of the sides say that they will make some efforts.
Meeting in Nefrelaye about the gardening project
The gardening project which had started with men, has become mainly a women project. After difficulties with the first board of the association, they seem to be on the right track to make the project work.
Angelique being taught how to use the “daba” (hoe).
In 2009, this water well was made with the support of APP and a French water company called Sicasil.
Nice to see that it is in a very good state and working well.
Tribute to Bertrand
In June Bertrand (founder of APP) left us. The village of Nefrelaye has decided to pay a tribute to him and a field of 1 hectare has been planted with 300 trees (mainly Teak). Nice of them!
Proverb of the week
Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.
Ne regardez pas où vous êtes tombé, mais où vous avez glissé.
If someone helps you wash your back, you have to wash your face yourself.
Si quelqu'un t'aide à laver ton dos, tu dois laver toi même ton visage.
Have a nice week.
Well, infested mosquitoes seem to like me? I had to take a test last night which shows that I have malaria again. It is not sure though if it is a new case or the first one not having been treated properly. It is not as bad as the first time. No major pain, only a slight fever but mostly weakness. Medication should bring things back to normal within a couple of days.
Surprisingly there were still rains last week in Bobo Dioulasso. Some farmers are happy (they had seeded late) some are not happy (difficult to harvest and keep the grains dry.
My first case of malaria caught me last week. No energy to write a blog last Sunday (I did not know yet that I had malaria). After a week of not feeling so good, energy is back.
Eugenie arrived in Bobo on Tuesday. One day late due to fog in Amsterdam. On Wednesday she was immediately asked to help vaccinate the children going to Banfora against meningitis. No lost time.
After a week of dry weather, rains came back on Saturday and Sunday.
It is difficult to know what is going on in Burkina. After a “successful” end to the coup, we could have thought that everything would be back to normal and that the elections would be in the very near future. Well it is not so. Very little news about a new date for the elections, gendarmes on the border with Mali were attacked.
What is the problem or problems?
Some says that the transition government is getting too comfortable and might want to stay longer. Others say that the general who made the coup knows too much and that he can destabilize the country if he starts to talk. Finally the few presidential guards who have fled (probably with arms) might want to create trouble.
What is the truth and are there other reasons for this feeling of unfinished business??
News from the LAP
At the LAP gardens are being prepared to receive new vegetables. Classes have started as well.
Besides the students at the LAP, we have 2 groups of other scholarship holders. One of 14 children (7 boys and 7 girls) going to an agricultural school in Bingo (about 35 km from Ouagadougou) and another of 24 children going to the schools in Banfora (11 girls and 13 boys).
Students going to Bingo.
With the events in Burkina the start of the schools has been changed several times. Finally, the 8th of October was the start of the school. At the LAP we started on the lectures on September 28th.
Some story about students
Céline: when she was 6 years old she became servant of one of the lady teachers at the primary school of Kofila. The teacher found Céline very clever and she decided to register her in the primary school the following year. She then took the test for the LAP and was selected. In June she had her Secondary exam called BEPC and she is now going to follow her study in Bingo.
Odile: we have been sponsoring Odile for 6 years. She is studying in a school in Banfora and she was supposed to be going there last Wednesday to start her final year of secondary study. She did not show at our office. After a lot of phone calls, we have found out that she had gotten married and was pregnant. Since the boarding part of the school in Banfora does not accept pregnant students, she did not dare to come to see us. Finally she will still go to this school, but her husband will have to find her a home in the town of Banfora.
Benjamin: Benjamin is a third year student at the LAP. In May he lost his father and one uncle within 3 days. He really feels beaten. He is especially worried about the harvest of his family. Students at the LAP are staying at the school during the weekend. He has been asking the study director to go back to his village (25km) during the week end to help his family. After talking to his class mates, a large group of them agreed to go help pick up the corn on a Sunday he will choose. We will provide the transport. We hope this will help him to get out of his somber mood.
Women of Oualana
On Sunday there was a meeting with the women of the village of Oualana. Purpose of the meeting was to renew the board of the association managing the nursery school. The old board had only 2 members out of 6 involved in the management of the school. Those women did not want to be replaced. They were probably getting some benefits out of their position.
The new board was put in place and after our visit, the old and new boards met to transfer the account and documents.
Other pictures of this meeting
While we were discussing with the women of Oualana, Eugenie was busy at the LAP, installing curtains in the dormitories.
Sylvie (head of the foyers, Eugenie, Odile (manager of ASAP Burkina) and Thomas (in charge of the boys foyers and of the equipment at the LAP) coming out of the girls’foyer.
From last week:
It is the trunk of a cotton tree.
For this week: What is this plant?
Proverb of the week
A smooth sea does not make a skillful sailor
Une mer calme ne fait pas un habile marin
One falsehood spoils a thousand truths
Un mensonge gâte mille vérités
Have a safe week.