Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Weeks 11 & 12: Good times and Goodbyes

As a sunny November merged seamlessly with a sunny December, we had a surreal weekend which started with a Christmas market at the American private school (complete with Christmas songs and Father Christmas!), continued with music playing and horse riding in Ziniaré and ended with whizzing around on fairground rides and pedalos at Loumbila ‘beach‘. We will certainly miss the Burkina social life!

We bumped into Santa at the Xmas fair


Pedalo at sunset

 In week 11, we had little time to mourn the fact that it was our last week working at Djiui, because we were so busy making the most of the fact that it was our last week working at Djigui! Our anxiety and mild panic got channelled in to motivation and a slightly hysterical energy to ‘Get Stuff Done‘. Luckily, Elered, the unofficial Djigui mascot, did his mischievous best to relieve us of some of our energy and the office saw an all time high of silly games and toddler showmanship.


After work on Monday we’d arranged to give English lessons at the Lycee Prive Les Leaders De Demain school which we visited a few weeks ago. We arrived feeling a little apprehensive, not knowing what level we’d be teaching or whether we’d be faced with a class of 5 or 50. Despite the fact that the head teacher clearly hadn’t been expecting us, the students were assembled and before we knew it we were addressing a class. Laura and Rowan delivered a lesson to a beginners class of 42 students, covering topics such as family, body parts and clothing, while Ailsa and Lewis had discussions with the more advanced students. We had a great time playing school teacher and it was really nice to do something extra-curricular to our daily activities.

This is an e-l-b-ow

Slow, or no, internet provided hurdles (same old, same old) but things slowly but surely got ticked off the ‘to do’ lists. On Thursday, the much anticipated Child Sponsorship scheme was finally launched just in time for us to spam our friends and family with slightly guilt-trippy promotions, and get the word out on Facebook and Twitter. Launch day saw us receive sponsorship pledges for not one, not two, but five of the 33 children currently on the website! A week later and now fourteen children have been sponsored. A fantastic start to the scheme, I think you’ll agree.
Further content and adjustments have been made to the website and the new Meet the Members page is looking brilliant. We felt it was really important for people to be able to see the faces and hear the stories of the individuals who make up Djigui in order to really get to know the association and the importance of its work. Ailsa and Val conducted interviews with some of the women, which have been transcribed and added to the individual member profiles. Hopefully this is something that can be carried on by future cohorts, and one day all of the women will be able to share their stories and explain the impact Djigui has had on their lives.

Screen shot of our Meet the Members web page

Kadi - “If I can make the minimum to dress and eat then I am happy.
I hope that Djigui keeps growing. If Djigui succeeds, we succeed”
We have tackled the veritable mountain of paperwork with gusto, with the understanding that our feedback and constructive criticisms could directly affect the future of the project. Hopefully the project, and the scheme as a whole, will keep improving and becoming more efficient and effective with each cohort. We’re really happy with our handover documents and we’re excited to be able to pass everything on to a new team, and know that the progress at Djigui will continue. The next cohort have already had their pre-departure training for their January departure and it’s strange but also exciting to think that this whole experience is ahead of them.
Friday 6th December was our last official day working at Djigui, so, at 3pm a huge feast was laid out and everyone gathered together in the office. We contributed our tokan sausages to the spread, which we’d spent the evening before mixing, rolling and frying. We’ve passed on our recipe for the sausages and Mme Toe is excited to be able to cheaply and easily make Djigui tokan sausages for sale at the kiosk.


Both Bea and Ives have finished their contracts with ICS (6 months and 12 months respectively), so the celebration was extra big, but also bittersweet for everyone involved. Mme Toe very kindly presented each of us with a lovely wooden picture, complete with Djigui logo, for us to take home. After the meal was finished, Chantalle took on DJ duties, the music was cranked, and the volunteers were encouraged (*cough* forced *cough*) to take to the ‘dance floor’ and entertain the women with some awkward dance moves. Add a bit of sangria to the mix and much fun and hilarity ensued.

Ives popping the cork

Lewis and Béa dancing

Our goodbye gifts from Djigui

The celebrating continued on Saturday with another extravagant meal at Val’s house to celebrate Seraphine’s birthday. Val prepared enough dishes to feed the whole neighbourhood, and then Seraphine arrived with a carload of her own dishes! Seraphine just laughed at our amazement and reminded us to ‘eat like the Burkinabe’ as she piled 3rd and 4th helpings on to our plates.
This week - our final few days in Burkina - has seen us tying up loose ends, packing up the house, and starting to make those painful goodbyes. However, we haven’t been able to tear ourselves away from the office just yet! On Monday, the group gathered to finish our project presentation, with Ives and Bea carefully selecting photos and songs, and Ailsa compiling the slideshow presentation. Laura and Rowan got to work on a Djigui logo mural on the front wall of the building, and despite some setbacks (“we’re out of yellow, again!“) we enjoyed getting all artsy and covered in paint. And… drum roll please… there has finally been physical progress on the kiosk! Over the weekend Desiree, Elered’s dad, installed the serving hatch window which will provide access to the kitchen, and there is now also the beginnings of a metal counter. It’s been a long time coming, but we’re all really happy to have been able to see the start of the process before we leave, and hopefully the work will continue in the next few weeks and the kiosk can open in the new year.

The beginnings of the kiosk

Tuesday was the official end of the project and International Service hosted a cultural day at the Place du Culture to celebrate the successes of the projects. Each group got the chance to deliver their project presentations the IS staff, partner organisations and other volunteers, and it was really nice to be able to see what all of the other groups have been up to, and the impacts they‘ve had. After the presentations were finished we were treated to a delicious meal from the partners, and an amazing percussion band accompanied by skilled dancers from the high school. And once again it was time for us to dance! Seeing everyone dancing together with smiles on their faces certainly left us with warm fuzzy feelings and put a bit of a lump in our throats.

The two 'chiefs'

Ailsa and Rasmane

At our Djigui stall

Seraphine and all of the Djigui volunteers

And now, the day has finally arrived, our last day in Burkina Faso... And we’re still in the office! We dropped in this morning to give cards and presents and to finish the mural, and we’ve ended up staying for two meals, a last gorging on frozen soya milk, and lots and lots and lots of photos…

Our masterpiece!

All 6 of the Djigui volunteers

One last goodbye to the Djigui women

The four of us with Tantie

Needless to say, it has all been very emotional and it is hard to come to terms with the fact that we may never see these amazing women again. It has been such a joy and a privilege to have worked at Djigui Espoir alongside such inspirational individuals. We have learnt more than we could have ever anticipated, formed friendships, and laughed together every single day. We are so proud of what we’ve been able to help Djigui achieve in the last few months. It has been a whirlwind of fundraising, branding, promotion, creating publicity materials, making signs, taking photos and films, delivering lessons, exchanging skills, cracking how to make sausages without a sausage-making machine, developing a professional Corporate Supporters Scheme, eating our weight in tokan brochettes (an immense achievement in itself!), increasing the capacity of the association and helping to create a new post, and, of course, launching the Child Sponsorship Scheme which will hopefully positively affect the Djigui children, Djigui members and Djigui itself for as long as it exists. We are thrilled to say that 14 children have now been sponsored, and would like to say a huge thank you to those who have made a sponsorship pledge so far. But of course we are still looking for sponsors for the rest of the children, so please feel free to check out the webpage!
Now all that’s left to do is say our final goodbyes and make our way to the airport for our 1am flight. Seraphine, Bea, Ives, Chantalle, Helene and Elered will all be at the airport to see us off, so something tells me there will be a few more tears shed before the day is through…
Goodbye Burkina Faso, and thank you and good luck to everyone at Djigui Espoir. We will miss you.

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