Hommes Comme Partenaires! (Men as Partners)

23 05 2011

Salut! Je viens de terminer avec l’atelier “Hommes Comme Partenaires”.  The conference was awesome! It took place in a northern city of Burkina Faso called Ouahigouya.  If you have a good memory, you will recall that it was the village where our first trainings where held when I arrived in Burkina Faso exactly 11 months ago today.  To say that it was interesting being back in Ouahigouya would be an understatement.  I couldn’t believe just how different everything seemed to me while all still being so familiar.  It’s as though I was looking at a memory of my past but through someone else’s eyes…someone better adapted to African life, more comfortable in their skin.   I really appreciated the experience of being able to see that village again now.  One night we went and had dinner at one of the very first places I ate, Madame Coulibaly’s.  I vividly remember that first avocado sandwich I ordered that day.  I remember being so nervous about ordering myself a sandwich and how proud I was afterwards when I realized she understood my demand and was indeed going to give me a sandwich.  Compare that timid scared Keith to the Keith who is now giving presentations, holding business meetings, and living everyday in French and Dioula, and even more foreign language.  It was incredible to see just how much I have changed in only 11 months.  Oh and for any other volunteers from my stage who might be reading this blog…yes Ouahigouya was still as hot as hell!!! I’m so grateful I live in the Bobo region where it’s less hot.

As for the conference, all I can say is AMAZING! I was truly happy with how the overall conference turned out.  Of course there were a few small bumps in the road, but I think as a group, we handled them pretty well.  I ended up being a lot more involved in the conference then I had previously expected.  I lead two sessions and helped in several more.  I think I added some good perspective and some useful examples/stories to help stimulate the conversation.  The Burkinabe counterparts that attended were also amazing.  They were open, engaged, and really excited about getting back in to their communities and bringing back some of what they learned.  It was great to see those “uh-huh!” moments on some of their faces as they came to some new realizations over the course of the three day workshop.  I think one of the greatest moments was on the last day when we sent the volunteer/burkinabe pairs out into the community of Ouahigouya to give small sensibilisations on topics that we had covered the previous two days.

This conference couldn’t have come at a better time, since you all know I was hitting a low point in relation to my motivation and feeling of accomplishment.  This workshop showed just how much I can do, even on a small scale, to change even one person; to be able to be an advocate for change in Banzon, one villager at a time.  I think after the success I saw during the Men as Partners workshop, I really want to try and use the new Technical Center that I’m building to hold sensibilisations on similar topics that we discussed.  I think Banzon would really benefit from some of the same lesson plans that we used.

So now I’m sitting in Bobo at the Peace Corps office getting ready to head back to Banzon tomorrow! Super excited to get back and just dig in with work and closing up some loose ends.  Tonight for dinner I made a really delicious spinach pasta with garlic gouda, chorizo, and provençale sauce. It was rather indulgent, and kind of expensive, but since I’m heading back to village I decided to splurge 😛

I’m hoping to make some moves with UDTER, my ADF associated women’s group, since I had a meeting with the Ouaga counterpart and we worked through some of the roadblocks.  Fingers crossed for that! Also I need to make the final push in setting up all the students who are going to attend Camp GLOW this summer.  I need to get a list of 32 students’ names and get their parent permission slips as well.

Well I guess that’s all for now…just wanted to write a quick update while I still have electricity and internet!

Really missing my family and friends these days, but also really looking forward to the next few months here ❤




2 responses

24 05 2011

Sounds really exciting. What was the final outcome of your literacy project?

24 05 2011

Hi Aunt Helene! The final outcome is that we managed 34 centers, each with 30 adult students. Overall, the centers were well attended each day, finished all the planned curriculum, and the women and men have improved their level of reading and writing comprehension, some of which will continue next year with the second level and some of which may become teachers in the years to come. Now we will wait and see what the monitoring team from the government has said about our performance and hopefully receive the same if not more funding for next year’s campaign.

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