Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Week 8: Gastro-Branding-Sponsorship-Kiosk-Artisan-Bogolan-Enteritis!

Unfortunately, week 8 saw the team plagued with illness. Both Laura and Ailsa fell foul of gastroenteritis the evening of our return from Bobo, shortly followed by Rowan. Lewis miraculously managed to stay healthy throughout, but our work plans suffered as a result of the office days lost. Nevertheless, the time we did spend in office was productive and the Corporate Supporters scheme has taken a huge leap forward. We will soon be emailing relevant companies in the UK to get them on board in an effort to raise much needed funds and awareness for Djigui Espoir. We are seeking to form long lasting partnerships with international organisations who are passionate about the same things we are and who wish to support us in achieving our goals. We have completed a PDF leaflet for the scheme and will soon be adding a dedicated section to the website.

The Djigui website often forms the first impression for people who are finding out about the association. It has the important job to present thorough, comprehensive and up to date information, as well as conveying the professionalism and aspirations of the association. Historically, Djigui's web presence has been inconsistent, so we are aiming to establish a strong online presence, both through the website and our social media. We hope to do this (at least partially) before the launch of the Corporate Supporters and the Child Sponsorship schemes, so that any outside parties interested in the schemes will easily be able to find recent and relevant information on Djigui Espoir, and see our enthusiasm and dedication clearly demonstrated.

In the next few weeks we will be creating much more online content and adding new pages, so make sure you check out our website, Twitter and Facebook.

We have also looked closely at the concept of Djigui Espoir's brand image, and how we can make our imagery consistent and ensure that all future resources appear professional and clearly assert the Djigui brand. Creating a strong and consistent brand will improve Djigui's visibility both locally and online. Rowan has created a template for a brand guideline document, and once we have worked with Madame Toé to finalise it, it is something that will be very useful for future cohorts.

Lewis has been getting to grips with HootSuite so that we can set up ready-made Tweets to be posted in the weeks before the next cohort arrive in January, and we've all been collecting interesting or humorous updates (admittedly, we did get a bit carried away with puns) to load up before we leave. He has also been working on Twitter and Facebook instruction sheets to give to Djigui members and future cohorts.

Having pun on Twitter.

The week was also spent exchanging language and computer skills; with Béatrice teaching French tenses, Rowan delivering training in Adobe Photoshop, and Ailsa in Microsoft Publisher. All three classes have been hugely beneficial and we will be continuing with these lessons until we leave.

Béa and Ailsa having a language exchange lesson.

Ives has been busy working on our application to the African Women's Development Fund alongside Val and our accountant Chantalle. They've compiled a six month financial report and made a budget for the next year's activities to be submitted as part of our funding application. If the fund is awarded it would be an incredible achievement for the association, and would allow us to move forward in so many ways where we have been previously limited by financial constraints.

Ives also helps regularly in the production room on the days when the soya milk and tokan are produced. He really enjoys being part of the whole process and has learnt a great deal about food manufacturing and how to make tokan with a perfect consistency. Helping the women in production is an important objective of the long-term ICS project here, as Djigui cannot currently afford to employ more than 14 women, and they often struggle to complete the weekly production quota.

Seraphine in the production room.

On Tuesday Jean-Pascal visited the Djigui office for a meeting on the evolution of our activities so far and what we can do to make the most of the rest of our time here. The focus lay heavily upon continuing skills exchange between the national and international volunteers, launching the Child Sponsorship Scheme, and finding Corporate Supporters. We also all have our fingers crossed that the kiosk will start being built before we leave!

Progress has been made with regards to the kiosk, but it is clear that the whole process will take much longer than we all initially thought. Madame Toé wants to make sure we build something of the highest possible quality for our budget, so there has been lots of discussion and various proposals put forth. A designer friend of Madame Toé visited the site to give advice about the land and layout of the structure, and Ross, Programme Manager at IS, has been a great help so far and is working with Madame Toe to create the most suitable design. Béa has been looking in to options for awnings and researching costs for a rubber awning, as this would be hard wearing and not as unbearably hot as corrugated metal. Temperatures in Burkina can get as high as 44 degrees Celsius in the summer, and we'd rather not bake the kiosk servers alive, if we can help it.

Ross, IS programme manager, measuring the kiosk space.

Friday saw Béa and Ives take part in an important meeting with Madame Toé, Chantalle, and members of association, to discuss recent Djigui events. They talked mostly about our time at Festigrill, and how Djigui can improve the public-facing aspects of its work. They also discussed the overall management of the association, ways to ensure product consistency and control, and the upcoming JAAL (Journees Agro-alimentaires) event at which Djigui will have a food stall.

At the weekend we drove to the Ouaga 2000 district on the other side of town to visit the National Museum and the Artisan Village. The museum was rather different to what we'd expected; half a dozen elaborate buildings widely dispersed over a huge unkempt plot of land. Upon driving through the towering concrete giraffe gate posts and seeing no signs of life, we assumed the museum was shut or abandoned. But Mouni, our taxi driver, directed us towards one building where we were met by an attendant who sold us our tickets and escorted us around each building in turn. There were some amazing exhibits of ceremonial masks and wooden figures from a number of different Burkina ethnic groups. We learnt about the history of the carved objects and their importance and use in everyday life. For instance, some of the wooden figurines were used as education tools to prepare young girls for the processes of adolescence and pregnancy, and some were symbolic virility statues used as offerings by men who experience sexual problems. One building contained a striking cotton exhibition which demonstrated the process from cotton boll to cloth. Burkina is one of the world's biggest cotton producers and accounts for the country's main export.

The National Museum.

The Artisan Village sits just a few kilometres from the museum and is split into sections of different artisans from wood carvers, leather makers, metal workers, potters, bogolan and batik painters, and weavers; all of whom were creating, displaying and selling their wares. It was really interesting to see the processes of the various crafts, especially the bronze sculptures, which are carved first in wax and coated with a clay cast, and once dried the wax is melted out and replaced with molten bronze. Quite a few souvenirs were bought and we were treated to an impromptu performance at the djembe drum stall.

Artisans at work.

On Saturday evening it was HSB team leader Souad's birthday celebrations, so all of the national and international volunteers gathered at her house for some delicious Tigoung Nonma food, birthday cake and lots of photo ops before heading to the Sports Bar to dance the night away to a live salsa band. It was lovely to catch up with the other teams, and we finally got to see Ives long-awaited dance moves!

HSB's Kat, Sam and Souad dancing!

We spent a very enjoyable Sunday trying our hand at the Burkina speciality of bogolan - dyeing fabric using fermented clay. Val arranged for a local bogolan artist to spend the day showing us the tools and processes of bogolan, and helping us all to create our own masterpieces.

Bogolan artist at work.

The fermented clay is a pale grey sludge and, besides its horrific dung-like smell, is quite unassuming until you paint it on to the treated fabric and it dries on as a jet black. We had been inspired by the elaborate bogolan pieces seen the day before at the artisan village, but mercifully we were provided with a selection of stencils to assist our creativity. Nevertheless, mistakes were still made and artistic frustrations vented, but we had a great time.

Ailsa, Rowan, Lewis and Inclusive Sport Education's teamleader Nicté.
Some of our finished fabric.

After the realisation hit that we have such little time left at work, we have set in place meetings and plans for the next two weeks to ensure all of our work is completed or appropriately handed over. We are looking forward to being effective, motivated and gastroenteritis-free for the remainder of the project!

Laura, Ailsa, Rowan and Lewis

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