Monday, October 27, 2008

Back to work after some Ouaga fun

After a slow start to the work-week, with some data entry and report review, we have started a new short mission! It’s really nice to be going into the field so much, both for the work as well as the fun. This time it is a two-day mission, Wednesday and Friday, where we again come back to Dori every evening as it’s not too far (about 60 km out). We are a little group traveling in just one WFP jeep: us two, Rie (WFP Japanese volunteer), Valian (WFP Food Aid Monitor), our driver Cisse, and a guy who works for the government (monitors schools for the ‘Departement Provincial de l’Education de Base et l’Alphabetisation’, DPEBA), whose complicated name I unfortunately never completely grasped.

The goal of the mission is a simple follow-up of school feeding activities, i.e. we visit schools to check up on how everything is going, report on it, and eventually give some advice, make some corrections, or, if everything is good, congratulate them on their good work. We covered six schools on Wednesday, in the villages of Sampelga, Waboti 1& 2, Aligaga 1 & 2, and Mira. To get to each of them we drove, to the sound of African music on bumpy dirt tracks through other little villages, the Sahel bush, and fields of sorgho (a cereal) standing tall, their fluffy tops hanging relaxed under the sun, so bright, and the sky, so blue.

I’ll write a very simplified ‘mission report’ in the next post so you can have a general idea of how it was. What was particularly good is that we visited schools that had both similar and different issues, it gave a good impression of local realities. What was particularly cute were the children who crossed their arms as a sign of respect/obedience and told Kath and I ‘bonjour madame’, with a little head bow.

In one village, the villagers surrounded us in a matter of minutes as we talked with the ‘directeur d’ecole’, looking at us curiously and listening to our discussion. When we got up to go visit the warehouse, a few meters away, the circle of elderly men, little boys and girls, and women dissolved and they followed us altogether- it was very funny and a little bit impressive to be followed by this crowd. They all stood there watching us, close by, as we ‘visited’ the ‘warehouse’ (a tiny mud brick hut), so I decided to take a picture of them all. They were enthusiastic, and started raising their hands. I then had the fantastic idea of showing this crowd the picture on the screen of the digital camera- not so fantastic as I was completely drowned in squealing kids and eager adults, which was still fun but a lot more impressive, and completely disturbed those still discussing in the warehouse.

I also want to mention our great weekend in Ouaga- we went dancing late into the night, still rose (relatively) early to go see sacred crocodiles 25 km out of Ouaga- on motorbikes- cooled off with a dip in the American Rec(reation) Center pool, and chilled in our ‘Ouaga home’, all with Seth, Quentin and Tierno, the three guys we shared a house with in our first week.

It was my first time on a motorbike- fun!! I wasn’t driving of course, but sitting behind Kath, who has been driving her own for eight years and was fantastic, her superb driving made me feel almost comfortable :p That part of the crocodile trip was actually much more exciting than the crocodiles themselves; though they are still impressive beasts, it was not a very natural nor nature-friendly atmosphere as our guides poked the crocodiles and wagged live, squealing chickens (!) in front of them in an effort to entertain us (yes, one of the poor chickens ended up eaten).

And still after all of this fun it was nice to come back to quiet, simple Dori. Maybe partly because there is more fun ahead- next weekend Quentin is coming to visit, and soon after Seth too.


Blogger Laur said...

Hi Alix - great to read your adventures in the African Sahel! Unfortunately my adventures here in Madagascar consist only in urban survival :) Not getting out of Tana too much. My boss says that the fun part will come with the cyclones, and we'll do field visits to affected areas, so I'm (sort of) waiting for that. :(

Regarding the sacred crocodile lake, a guy from WFP Maputo told me the story of it last week, and he said that he saw with his very eyes that there were children swimming in the lake, and no crocs would touch them. He also said that crocs were very obedient at feeding times - that a villager would choose one of the crocodiles and put a chicken in his mouth, while all the others stood and watched without fighting for the food. I found it truly unbelievable. Could you confirm the stories? ;)

November 23, 2008 9:56 AM  

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