Friday, April 29, 2011

Heat and Hostility

Its been two months since my last post and I don't even know where to begin.

I guess ill begin how most conversations have begun here lately, "It's hot today!" "I know, when is the rain coming?!"

Soon I hope! Anyways I'm just going to jump into this...

8 Mars or International Womens Day was another huge event. Especially for me being a Girls education and Empowerment volunteer. Some volunteers in my sector held special events or actives in their villages to celebrate but here in Ziniare, the presidents hometown, they never miss an opportunity to party so there were plenty of things already in place for me to do. I just got dressed up and went around with my co worker making the necessary nazara appearances. There was a parade and rally in the morning where they did skits and recognized womens associations in the area and all of their contributions to the community. After that we went around to other small parties and ate and drank and danced. They year before they held a womens soccer match village womens vs functionaire (government workers) women, unfortunately this year they didn't have it I was rather looking forward to watching but oh well maybe next year. I really love that the women get this day of recognition they deserve it more than anyone. Burkinabe women are hard working and strong and incredible giving. I feel that each and everyone I meet is another mother. They work in the fields, do all the housework, cook all the meals, take care of the children, and many even find time to start small businesses selling local good to make extra money for the household. I may be biased but without women this country would be lost they are an intricate and necessary part of Burkinabe life and deserve to be acknowledged.

Life here has been a little...hmm how should I put it...complicated lately. At the end of February a student was killed in police custody this death has started a snowball effect of protests, riots, and overall dissatisfaction with the government of Burkina. Originally students were protesting in larger cities all over the country. Some protests were peaceful and others were violent. There were deaths, injuries and destruction of buildings. Because of the instability of the situation the government closed schools for weeks and we were told to avoid bigger cities for our safety.

**let me note this now before I continue, no volunteers or foreigners have been targeted or hurt. Everything that has happened has been due to the discontent with the government. Most of the violence has been destruction of property and scare tactics.**

Having the schools closed and being stuck in village has been hard. For the past however many months my daily routine has been to go work at the schools. Not being able to do that has left me with not a whole to keep me busy. Its also extremely hard on the students because they are now incredibly behind on their studies. This will leave them highly unprepared for their exams at the end of the year. As I write this schools have been up and running again but other issues have come to light.

Protests have been held by Burkinabe citizens expressing their unhappiness with the high cost of living as of late. Teachers have protested in some cities demanding higher pay but the most serious or destructive of all the protest have been the unhappiness of the military.

Frankly its all a bit confusing and most volunteers are having trouble keeping up with everything but this is what I've come to understand.

Lower lever military officers were unhappy with the biased nature of the government. They were unhappy that the higher ups would be able to get away with things they never would. They also were demanding higher wages. The past few weeks have been a bit unstable because officers have taken to the streets and fired their weapons in the air, attacking government officials, destroying governmental building, etc. The government laid down a country wide curfew that has helped mostly because a lot of the violence has taken place during the night. Due to the continued discontent Blaise dissolved the government and rearranged everything. As of now we are just waiting it out to see if this will be a solution. Protests are still planned for the next week so we will see how serious they end up being.

I obviously have my own personal opinions about everything that has happened within the last few months and left out a lot of my thoughts because I don't feel that this is the most appropriate place to express them. If you want to email me I would be more than happy to share my thoughts, I have plenty to say. Also I will post a few links to news articles but just keep in mind that I'm just posting them for you to go through on your own. Some are not 100 percent accurate and some are also leaving out a lot of information. Its not a black and white situation like most problems aren't it has plenty to do with the history, culture, and daily lifestyles of the Burkinabe and that isn't something you can understand after reading a few short articles or even listening to me rant.

To end on a happier note I'm going to include pictures from some of the actives I've started in the last two months. This is the reason I'm here so I'm going to work my hardest to follow through on my commitments.

Vaccinations at the primary school in Barkouitenga.

Soap making with the AME (school PTA Group for women) in Koassanga.

Meeting with the APE (school PTA) to discuss getting a water pump installed at the primary school in Barkuitenga.

Meeting with AME in Koassanga to distribute money for the women to expand their IGAs (income generating activities)

Planting moranga with the students in Koassanga.

Handing out toothbrushes and going over dental hygiene for the CM2 class in Barkouitenga.

My friend and fellow volunteer came to visit. We went to the dairy farm next to my school and rode horses.

Now here are a few links...

New York Times



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