Friday, July 19, 2013

Our second week in Burkina Faso, by Emily Rek

On Friday 12th, after the long 5 hour meeting we met with the other volunteers. Nothing could have prepared us for our visit to see the sacred crocodiles on the following day. People consider them as sacred as they state that their spirits are from the elder people in the village and hence it is why they don't attack humans. On the top of this it is said that the elder of the village can also communicate with them.

On Sunday the four of us went to Marina Market, where it was heart-warming to see some familiar brands and so we stocked up on some necessities ready for our second week.

Unfortunately, Clara was off work Tuesday until Thursday, but she managed to observe and help out in the production of cereal on Monday, which was interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes.

One of our main endeavours this week was Fairtrade. After a 49 page pdf, we managed to come up with a brief list of conditions that have to be met so we can assess whether it is worth pursuing. With the help of Béatrice, I translated this into French in order for the women of Djigui to also get a better understanding of what terms need to be met. We also formed a list of potential shops in France that may be interested in buying Djigui products, and drafted a letter to get a sense of whether they would and whether having the Fairtrade logo was necessary to do so.

Another main theme of the work we did this week was working towards how we were going to raise the £3,500 pounds so we can buy the cereal in November and develop a cash-flow. Hannah and I formed a well-worded letter requesting aid in the form of funds, in which we e-mailed to about 10 relevant charities. We’re still waiting to hear back the majority, but fingers crossed! Similarly, Michael contacted Western Union for the same reason.

Stepping away from business side of matters, Béatrice gave me training on how to deliver AIDs awareness training, so this is something we’ll be doing in the near future. In addition, Michael spent Thursday getting to know some of the woman on a more individual basis so as to learn more about their unique disabilities. Using this knowledge, he spent Friday developing some particular exercises and I helped draw out the actions with him so that the women would be able to remember even once we’ve returned home.

Looking into the future slightly, we’ve been trying to secure some training. For example, we’ve written to Womankind suggesting we partner up, because this could help us not only in a financial and marketing sense but they would also provide useful training. Ives has been finishing a short list of training as well, including team training and role awareness, business skills, and producing an administrative and financial procedural manual.

The highlight of the week, however, was meeting the leader of International Service, Jo Baker. She stopped by on Wednesday afternoon and had a look around Djigui. We all found her to be very warm and down to earth, despite all the impressive things she has already done with her life. The visit was certainly memorable and was a success, as it inspired each and every one of us to know that such a motivated and enthusiastic person is in charge of IS.

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