Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Week 1 & 2 - Easter at Djigui

Joyeux Pâques! After a hectic first fortnight, we finally have a moment to collect our thoughts. A week of training - visiting the partner organisations, meeting the national volunteers, the necessary formalities and a crash course in Mooré - left us in good stead for the first week of work at Djigui Espoir; a disabled women’s association which specialises in soya production.

Meet the team... (from left to right)

Louise: Having already spent 12 weeks as a volunteer with Djigui in 2012, I am thrilled to be back as a team leader. I can't begin to describe how much I've missed Djigui's brochettes!

William : Hello!! I am William working at Djigui as national volunteer since January and so glad to be there. Work at Djigui is a great experience and it helps me to know more about UK culture.

Sophie: It's only our third week in Djigui, but we're all getting stuck in. As well as enjoying our daily fill of tokan, we're getting to know each other better and I'm really looking forward to continuing our work together in the months ahead!

Serge : I am Serge Bambara, a national volunteer with Djigui. This is my second cohort with ICS and I find the UK volunteers lovely. At the moment I am learning a lot from the UK volunteers, mainly about their culture, so I am glad to be here. I have high hopes for the next 10 weeks.

Kerri: I'm really happy to be working at Djigui and we're learning a lot from one another. I'm excited for the next 10 weeks - I think we'll be able to achieve a lot and, as a vegetarian, I'm particularly enjoying all the veggie-friendly food!

We’ve arrived at a transitional period at Djigui, which means ‘hope’ in the Dioula dialect. Work started earlier than expected, with Saturday marking the installation of a new sterilising machine, funded by the Taiwanese Embassy; the original sponsors of all of the association’s machinery. The ambassador himself paid a visit the following Wednesday, once the machine was up and running.

Taiwanese embassy members passing documents to Madam Toé
In terms of both ethnicity and religion, Burkina Faso has a very diverse population; with 60% Muslim, 30% Christian, 4% Animist and the remaining 6% self-identifying with another religion or none. While religion has a significant presence in the country, celebrations such as Easter are an occasion for entire communities to come together. We were fortunate to be part of this when we were generously invited round to Madame Toé’s home - the original Djigui HQ - on Easter Sunday. A feast of tokan salad (a Djigui favourite akin to tofu), soya brochettes, rice and sauce, tô (Burkina's national dish of pounded maize meal, served with sauce), and, that old Burkinabé staple, french fries, were shared between family, friends and some of the ladies from Djigui.
Easter at Madam Toé's

By the time we made it to William’s later that evening, we were having to loosen our pailles...

Though it’s still early days, the team has been working hard outlining our activities over the next ten weeks. It’s already apparent that funding is a priority here and, without sufficient funds, we may struggle to accomplish all which we hope to. Therefore, securing sponsorship will be high up on our list of priorities.

One of the realities of working in Burkina Faso is that, particularly in the dry season, power cuts are a daily occurrence. Without internet and working fans, we’re still acclimatising to a very different pace of working. This makes it even more important for us to plan activities which don’t necessarily rely on the power of Google!

More to come next week :)

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