Ceremonies, Conferences, and Culinary Indulgence!

25 09 2010
Hello, hello! I’m currently sitting in the transit house living room.  It’s about 4 in the morning and I can’t seem to sleep…so, since I have to be up in about an hour anyway to catch my bus back to Bobo at 6, I thought I would use this time to update my blog.
So let’s begin on Monday of this week.  Monday morning I caught the 8 am truck into Bobo from my little village of Banzon.  The best way to describe the truck is to think of a large truck with wood paneling as it’s side walls.  Inside they have rows of two person leather seating (some of which are perpetually in a reclining position, to the dismay of the person left sitting behind that row).  There are no windows since as I’ve said the walls of the cabin are just some wood panels.  That means there is a ton of open air running through the car.  However there are some rubber tarps pulled down around the back of the rows so if you prefer less wind, you should sit near the rear 🙂 All of the luggage or supplies being transported is thrown on top and strapped down with some rope and tarp.  Then you pack twice as many people as should theoretically fit inside and you are on your way! Now the ride should really only take about an hour and twenty minutes, but the driver stops on the way anytime he sees someone on the side of the road who might be potentially interested in traveling to or from Bobo.  It’s quite annoying haha.  Regardless, I finally arrived in Bobo at about 9:50 at the station where the Banzon bus drops and picks up passengers.   It’s at a gas station near the Bobo Grand Marché.  Now I need to find a taxi.  This is one of the most annoying things in Burkina as a whole.  I say that because each time you have to haggle with the taxi driver, try and explain where you are going, convince them you are not a tourist that you actually live here and know what the prices of the trips should be…then after about ten minutes of chatting and pretending to walk away to find a cab with the correct price, he loads your luggage and you either wait for more passengers or if the cab is already full you squeeze your ass into a 3 in by 1 foot bit of seat in the rear of the cab loll. (P.S. I got a bit hungry so I broke into my bag of goldfish – AMAZING! Thanks mom and dad!) Finally I get to the Bobo Peace Corps Bureau/House and to my wonderful surprise a lot of other volunteers from the area were already hanging out there.  The reason for the big get together was to celebrate the Bike Tour making it into Bobo. Later that day there would be a big ceremony celebrating what they’ve accomplished so far and what they have left…all taking place at the Governor’s building in Bobo.  It was really great to see some of my other stage mates from my training group and we all got to compare our first weeks at site.  Overall we all sound like we are having a pretty positive time which is awesome.
That night after the ceremony took place, me and a few of my fellow stage mates went to La Pacha.  This is a slice of heaven in Burkina Faso.  It’s a hotel/camping ground/restaurant/pizzeria.  It has the best pizza in Burkina Faso! Honestly no lie I could see myself spending good money in the states to buy that pizza! I usually get the Quatre Saisons which is a pizza that has four different sections: Ham and Onion, Artichoke, Peppers, and finally mushrooms.  So, so delicious.  Also they have the Alsacienne which is a pizza with cream, bacon, and caramelized onions – so amazingly rich and belly warming.  So once we all spoiled ourselves with pizza and pop (that one was for you Mich!) we headed over to the hostel that Peace Corps had arranged for us that night.  Now we all weren’t expecting the best accommodations seeing as we knew the price for the night at the place had been negotiated to 1,000 CFA a person.  That’s only $2.  That being said, we show up in some far away part of Bobo proper to a room with two sets of bunk beds, a single cot/bed, and 6 mattresses on the floor.  Just a 12′ x 15′ room with no screens on the windows and some need for cleaning.  It ended up being fine, but I will admit it was not one of the most glorious of hotels I have stayed at in my life 😉
The next morning, Althea and I needed to get to Ouaga and luckily enough we were able to get spots in the Peace Corps vehicle that was taking Dr. Claude and Zalia (Assistant Peace Corps Directors for Heath and Girl’s Education and Empowerment) back to Ouaga.  It was really nice to get to interact with two other sectors’ APCD’s as well as eat some great bananas and bread along the way.  Also, I was able to borrow a pair of shoes from the driver that I could use for the next two days at the ADF Conference (since I meant to get into Ouaga early enough to buy a pair of shoes that were somewhat fancy, but the car wasn’t going to get in early enough….so I borrowed the drivers haha).  Just another example of how sharing and friendly the Burkinabé people are here! That night we had been invited to the Country Director’s house for dinner! Now for all us Volunteers, we know that an invitation to dinner at Shannon’s house is like a gift from heaven since it undoubtedly means great food and homemade cookies for dessert! At the dinner were the three of us new volunteers attending the ADF Conference, a few 1-2 year in volunteers, and a couple of third year volunteers.  We were there to meet with the West African Peace Corps Security Officer to chat about our experiences so far and to see what is new with the surrounding countries.  Dinner was amazing and the conversation was great.  I was over gluttonous and had 4 servings of enchiladas and probably about 8 cookies, so I left pleasantly in pain.
The next morning at 7:30 we left for the ADF Conference! Dan Rooney, the Assistant Peace Corps Director for the Small Enterprise Development sector came to the Transit house (think Peace Corps Ouaga Frat House) and brought us over to L’Hotel Independence in centre ville. This was amazing.  Three ADF Washington employees were there to facilitate the training, three of us volunteers, our Technical Trainer from Koudougou Yassine was there, and 5 West African ADF National teams were there: Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Niger.  The whole point of us being at the training was to better understand the mission and philosophy of ADF (African Development Foundation – a US Government organization focusing on enterprise development and capacity building in African countries) as well as learn about Grant Startup, Financial Systems, Auditing, and Performance Management and Goals.  The entire conference was in French which was awesome for my confidence since I understood everything that was going on, which I didn’t expect going into it.  Also it gave me some great new vocabulary on financial terms and other technical french terms that will definitely come in handy for the coming two years.  One other thing that surprised me was how passionate and opinionated the African representatives were.  I so far have only seen examples of slightly passive participation from the Burkinabé in group discussions or training formations, but these people had comments for everything and were heated in a lot of their discussions.  It was great!
After the first day was over and we were able to make some great contacts with the ADF Burkina staff, the three of us volunteers went out to dinner with Yassine and the Senegal team at a great restaurant near the Transit house.  We ordered 5 poulet braisé à l’ail – braised chicken in covered in a garlic and seasonings.  We also had fries and fried plantains as the sides.  The dinner was awesome and I had such a great time chatting with the Senegal team (all in french!) about life, development, future goals, and where to visit in Africa.  A year ago I would have never thought that I would be eating grilled chicken and fries in a restaurant in Burkina Faso discussing development and ADF with a bunch of Senegalese aid workers…SO COOL!
Then we had the second day of the conference which was just as great.  We now have such a good idea of how we can move ahead with our partner organizations back at village and know what we can do to help facilitate their project success. After the second day we were all invited out to a big group dinner down the street from the hotel.  It was at a great outdoor restaurant with a live band and great food.  There was a short power outage so for a little while we were all sitting together chatting by candlelight…seriously how awesome has my week been?!  I got to talk to a Malian aid worker that night and he spent most of his time trying to convince me how great Mali is and all the reasons why I should make a trip out there.  Dan and Virginia – looks like I’ll be needing a place to stay in Mali!
Then Friday was my last day in Ouaga.  I used my free time to get in my travel reimbursement forms from Affectation (installing in village), printing out the ADF documents in French so that I have them in both languages, visiting the PC Staff, eating a wonderful lunch at the American Recreational Center, hitting up Marina Market for some last minute additions to all the food I’m bring back to site, and then hanging out with two wonderful friends, Marina and Kathy, in the med unit for dinner.
Overall this has been an amazing week and I am so pumped and prepared to get back to site and start getting more research done for what role I can play over the next two years.
Small side note – while in Ouaga I was able to get internet put on my phone so I will be better at responding to e-mails.  SO PLEASE SEND ME E-MAILS!!!! I want to know what’s going on in your life and need to hear your electronic voices haha.  Also if you have a blackberry in the states, e-mail me your PIN so we can BBM all the time for free!
LOVE YOU ALL and miss you more than words can express. Keep safe and send me some love.
Ala ka tile heere di!




Let’s play pass the Keith!

22 09 2010

Since my last post i have spent another wonderful week at my site in Banzon.  The agenda for the past week was to kick off my Dioula tutoring lessons and start a rotational program where I go to see the farm/place of work of each member of the association I’m working with.  Each morning I would be picked up by someone in the association and we would head out to their field or in one case their little boutique so I could get a better sense of what work they do on a daily basis outside of Faso Gnataga.  Mixed in with these visits (which were supposed to occur every day at 10 am) I had three Dioula lessons at 8 am, chez moi – tres pratique!  Also on Monday I had my first visitor at site! Stephanie who is a year in to her service here in Burkina paid me a visit.  She was in need of training so she biked to my village, 25 K from her village.  She is participating in the Burkina Bike tour which is a means to raise money for the Gender and Development committee which disburses funds to volunteers who have projects focused on gender equality and development.  You can check out the blog/donate to the cause here : http://burkinabiketour.blogspot.com/

we spent the morning catching up, chatting about our villages and the bike tour, and organizing my living room (SHE offered, how could I say no?!)  For lunch we made two boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese!!!! I added some sauteed onions and garlic + some spices to make it fancier haha.  It was soooo delicious and bien sûr, we finished it all! It was a great release to have someone in my village to speak english with again haha. The only problem thogh is whenever we would talk about our lives back home it sent us on a downward spiral of what we missed most (Besides air conditioning, food usually was the most popular). Later that day @ 1 pm I was to have a meeting with my association Faso Gnataga. I got to the office at 12:55 thinking I was cutting it close, yea right! The next person didn’t show up until 1:20!!! That’s Africa time for ya, well I should actually be greatful, often times volunteers have to wait an hour or more to have their scheduled meeting finally start. The meeting was rather frustrating…i don’t really want to go into detail here, but let’s just say they were spending the whole time expressing their thoughts that they (as well as other villagers) had already made crystal clear over the past two-three weeks.  Hopefully that is done now and they can actually start focusing on the fact that there is a new volunteer, ME! haha, and there is a whole open road ahead of us to plan and execute.

After the meeting I went back home and said my goodbyes to Steph as she set off on her way back to village.  I tidied up the dishes lefr from making lunch and then relaxed for a few minutes before my first Dioula lesson.  Thank God I brought my iPod, it is soooo essential for having some personal dance parties and belting out Glee songs 😛 The tutor showed up and we began our first lesson.  I brought my intro manual to Dioula that Peace Corps had given me and I saw that he brought some books too.  Now in all honesty, we’ve only had three sessions so far, but I don’t think I’m finding it to be useful.  He uses the books from the association’s annual Alphabetization workshop which teaches people who speak Dioula how to write and read it.  I don’t speak the language yet though…so I need to be taught the structure of sentences, verb tenses, vocab, and to practice speaking in a natural setting.  But it might turn out the help since we do learn new vocab in each session, and as long as I focus my outside time the manual Peace Corps gave me, I should be fine teaching myself the grammar and verb tenses etc. My tutor also mentioned that next time we are going to do a practical lessons at the market where we can review the names of things, how to buy stuff, and how to bargain the price down.  I’m excited for that, especially since I’m already good friends with a bunch of the ladies in the market.  As far as the visits went this week I visited a Banana orchard, a corn field, and a boutique in the market.  One day got cancelled due to rain, and the other day the guy forgot about me and went into the bush without me haha…but 3/5 isn’t bad right?

P.S. – have you guys ever seen a banana orchard?!  I felt like I was in Avatar or something haha.  The banana trees have these huge purple flower things that look like alien vegetation hanging off of them.  It’s where the bananas start sprouting from…soo cool, I wish I had brought my camera but the clouds were pretty grey that day so I was afraid of la pluie, the rain.

Also, I love it when it rains in the morning.  It’s so nice to wake up to the music of a soothing rain on my iron roof. It also is a lot cooler and breezy when it rains so I can even sleep/curl up under a sheet!

I have made some great friends so far and really enjoy getting out of the house and just hanging out in the center of village.  I love practicing my French and Dioula and I love hearing the Burkinabe thoughts on American culture.  It’s so wonderful to be a part of a cultural exchange every time I step out of my house.

On another note, cooking has been going really well! I make a mean marinara sauce and a sinful spicy ginger garlic eggplant dish.  I love that I can cook for myself these days and not worry so much about my stomach.  I weighed myself today, after eating a huuuge chicken and fries dinner in Ouaga (the reasons for me being in Ouaga will be in the next post :P) and I have lost about 15 pounds since being here.  I’m assuming I had lost even more at one point but being able to cook for myself and eat all the amazing food my parents and family have sent me has helped me put some weight back on.

crazy happening this week:

– riding in a truck next to three children sharing a small seat on my left and an ancient looking gentleman on my right with two chickens at his feet, while there were three live goats strapped to the top of the truck!

– seeing an eight year old hog tie two sheep, hoist them up into his bike basket, and ride off in a flurry of blood curdling sheep screams.

Cravings of this week:

– Nutella on a slice of whole wheat bread (what….I finished my Nutella already!)

– sitting in a movie theater alone, eating M&M’s and drinking an absurdly large and overpriced diet coke.

– the Madame Q martini at Q lounge in Philly.

– apples

That’s all for tonight, I need to write about this past week and my travels in Bobo, the African Development Foundation conference here in Ouaga (thus why I’m here and with internet!), and my latest happenings.

Miss you all! Will write soon (hopefully tomorrow night!)





Finally on my own again…wishing I had electricity :P

11 09 2010
Hello world!
So I have now spent an official week and 4 days in village.  My village is awesome.  Key word here is VILLAGE! For some reason I guess it didn’t hit me that I was going to be leaving the bigger cities of Burkina, and now I’m living in a small village in the middle of nowhere, no electricity, no other americans anymore, just me…my thoughts…and the bugs haha.
I’ve made some friends already! There is my 18 year old friend Amadi, he is really nice and super helpful when I need to find stuff or if I’m hungry lol – for the big celebration that ended Ramadan he grilled me an entire poulet!!! Delicious haha. I have made friends with a butcher, Boulo le boucher haha…but let me explain what the imagery is like so you can understand what butchers are like here in smalltown Africa 😉
So…He has a little stall…walls are made out of secko fencing, ceiling as well. Secko is like a woven grass that the Burkinabe use all over for fencing, ceilings, roofs etc…the whole set up is probably only 8 feet by 12 feet.  He has a basket on the floor where he keeps extra raw! meat, otherwise the raw meat is hanging from a hook or sitting on his little wood desk (which I haven’t seen him ever clean…)  The way that he cooks the meat is over a wood burning fire that is incased by four walls and then he places a big sheet of metal on top of the fire that he has hammered holes into to allow for smoke to get through.  So he throws chunks of goat or sheep meat onto the big metal sheet and it cooks slowly comme ça. The other day he brought a leg of meat from the day before and I mentioned that I was confused how it was still OK to eat, that’s when he explained he uses the “african fridge” which meant he cooked it partially and then today he was going to finish it.  I politely suggested I would take meat that he killed today 🙂
I have a few ladies in the market that I always stop by and say hi to, I have my family that I live with in my courtyard, and there are some other people that I have started hanging out with as well.
Onto my house.  I have a two room house, the entry room is my living room/kitchen/entertaining room. Then I have my bedroom that has a little walled off corner that serves as an indoor showering area ( I know super fancy!). I have an outdoor latrine all to myself…and the likes of spiders, mice, frogs, and of course some roaches haha.
For the first week I have been going around and meeting the local officials, police, other associations and stuff like that.  My host association is called Faso Gnataga -Gnataga is the Jula word for development so the organization is focused on development in Burkina Faso.  They work on health initiatives, education initiatives, farming sensibilizations, and animal husbandry best practices.  So I will have a ton of projects and flexibility over the next two years!
I’ve been struggling with a bit of guilt, frustration, and lack of purpose this first week.  Being all alone and just hanging out with the locals, while I know is the whole purpose of these first three months, makes me wonder why I’m here when I could be just hanging out in the States.  Also, when people tell me that they are so proud and thank me for doing what I’m doing it makes me a feel guilty since I don’t think I’m really doing anything yet.  Perhaps I will like those comments more once I actually start working with someone.  Everyone in the Peace corps has been warning us new volunteers that these first few months are going to be really difficult, and they weren’t lying.  This is the first time since being here that I’ve really thought about coming home.  Not because it’s horrible here…more because I haven’t started working and don’t see a true purpose and need for me yet.  Right now I’m only chatting and meeting people which wouldn’t be enough to keep me here in the long run, so hopefully this feeling of uselessness will go away once I’m knee deep in work.
I’m feeling better lately and am looking forward to starting my formal Jula lessons on Monday – I can’t wait to start speaking Jula more fluently with all the people in Banzon.  That will make life so much cooler and I will feel more included.
Otherwise, things are great – my site is beautiful, my french is still getting better, I’m getting more comfortable in my African shoes day by day, and I can see the light at the end of the three month tunnel where I will be doing my part to make a difference.  OH! I got invited to go to an African Development Fund conference at the end of September because I will also be working with a Rice field co-op who just got some grants from the ADF.  I wish I could stay on here and write more and more because I want to give more descriptive imagery for you all, but I have to go catch my bush taxi back to Banzon, otherwise I won’t be able to get home tonight haha.
I love you all and miss you like craaaazy!
Things I’m craving this week:
– oreos
– whole wheat bread
– grimaldi’s
– Joya pad thai, Joya curry, Joya anything
– cool breezes in Central park
– Magnolia bakery
Crazy incidents this week:
– Being splattered with raw meat on the chest…so sanitary
– having the baby from “Babies” (the namibian baby) walk into my courtyard completely naked
– seeing goats hang off the side of the bush taxis coming into Banzon
– Seeing more stars than I realized existed…even the like “solar clouds” in space around the stars…whoa!




Swear In!!!

29 08 2010

I have officially sworn in! On Friday all 77 of us trainees became Peace Corps Volunteers!!!!

I will be moving to my new village tomorrow which will not have electricity so this might be my last post for few weeks 😦

In short it was amazing, pictures will be coming as soon as possible!

My new address:

Keith Mangam, PCV

B.P. 1065

Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, West Africa

Yay!





22 08 2010

Hello world 🙂

I think it’s a good time for a nice looong update.

Let’s see since last we spoke I have been doing a ton of stuff! As  I said last time we just finished tech week.  It was really great to see a program like that work so well.  To be completely honest, my expectations for a workshop like that were not high.  I thought that not a lot of students would show up, they would be late, they wouldn’t participate…but to my wonderful surprise there were 18 students who showed up every morning (mostly on time…no more than 20 minutes late) and they were completely engaged! They loved the material and loved discussing their ideas about business and marketing and seeing what we thought on the subject as well.  Did anyone check out the photos?!

After Tech Week everyone came back from their trips and we learned what each other did.  The biggest thing that happened this week was our Counterpart Workshop! Let me explain a little about counterpart workshop.  First a counterpart is a person in your village who you work directly with over the course of your two years.  They are there to help you integrate, translate, and help make networking easier.  So all of us business volunteers met our counterparts on Wednesday and Thursday.  We went through a lot of different partnering activities on discussed what our expectations of each other were.  It was really great. My counterpart, Emmanuel Ouya is very nice, intelligent, and motivated.  I can’t wait to start working with him.  I’m going to post some pictures later this week when I’m back in Ouagadougou for swear in! That’s right…we are finally swearing in this Friday!!! I will finally be a full fledged volunteer, and I affectate into my village on Monday August 30th!! Kind of scary, but mostly exciting 😛 Also exciting news, I have told some of you but for those who haven’t heard, I was chosen to give a short 2-3 minute speech in Dioula at the swearing-in ceremony! It’s sooo exciting.  The ceremony will be on national Burkina TV, the president’s wife will be there, the American Ambassador, and other dignitaries.  It’s kind of a big deal so I’m a little nervous, but mostly excited that I get the privilege to speak in a local lang in front of everyone.   So we have two more nights with our host families here in Koudougou, then it’s back to the conference center where we will stay for two nights, then we head back to Ouaga for three nights and then BAM we are all off to our sites! I can’t wait to start cooking for myself so I can gain some muscle mass back…I look like I never eat..But I DO!!! All I eat is carbs haha…I should be getting fatter, but I’m just looking smaller and smaller by the day since I can maintain my muscles without protein 😦 Alas…I will have more protein when I can prepare it moi meme!

Big shout out to my family for sending me all the culinary goodies.  NUTELLA!!!!!!!! I shove it in my mouth and rubbed it on my gums like I was a crack addict…it was a very low moment for me 😛

Alas – I hope all is well in the states.  An bi doni!





Care Packages and short update

15 08 2010

Hello All!!!

I know I know, I haven’t updated the blog in a while…but it’s been really busy, in a great way!  But since a lot of you out there have in some way asked what you could send me to help comfort me while I’m so far away from home…I have compiled a list that you can all pick and choose from!! haha…no obligation at all, and please don’t feel the need to send a lot of packages.  i’m just putting it up here since people have asked me about it.

Here goes:

seeds for planting

a nice pillow

tupperware

curry paste

some cheap v-neck cotton shirts, or maybe some lovely plaid (i’m looking at you lex and emil)

maybe some nice fabric? so I can have a tailor here make some cool scchtuff!

M&M’s or reese’s or snickers or three musketeers! I can put them in a desert fridge to keep them semi cold haha

kaffir lime leaves? Lex you understand why 🙂

dryer sheets – they will make my clothes smell lovely and I can keep them stuffed under my bed to make it smell nice too! Plus they help keep bugs away from the bed

Shampoo! the shampoo here isn’t as great

shower soap – like Dr, Bronner’s from Trader Joe’s

dried mushrooms

rice noodles

pringles ( they are like heaven to me now…i miss chips)

Asian ingredients for cooking

notebooks/journals

off insect repellant

skin so soft

sunglasses (the sunglasses here don’t have UV protection)

powdered sugar? is it bad that I want to make a butter cream frosting? haha

vanilla extract!

cocoa powder (ASHLEY!!)

brown sugar

nice tea bags (Ramon…maybe creme de earl grey?)

jump drives with trashy tv or movies!

can opener

Magazines like GQ so I can use pictures to show to my tailor when I make clothes haha

flavored olive oils

ketchup and mustard and soy sauce and duck sauce and any sauce packets!!!!! food is bland here

oh and last but not least – TIM SEND ME MY SKINNY TIES! I miss them terribly haha

In other news…what’s new with me? The past two weeks I’ve gotten further into my local language – Dioula – and continued with my French.  I’m loving learning language and I wish I could have studied language in college instead of engineering, I think I have a natural ability for it since I’ve been picking up French and Dioula so well.  I wouldn’t mind studying in France for a year after this to really solidify my French before heading back to the States (don’t worry mom, you can all come live in France with me since they have A/C)  The end of this week was Tech Week!  Tech week is when the business trainees go visit current volunteers in the business sector and help them with their projects so it shows us how work will really be once we are at our own sites.  I stayed in Koudougou and worked with Chris, the volunteer near this area, and we gave a three day Entrepreneurial / Small business start up class.  18 people came who were a mix of men and women and a mix of high school and out of high school.  It was an amazing program and I hope to be able do one just like it at my own site in a few months (when my French is better). OK well I just put pictures up on Facebook(http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2330824&l=caee611a6c&id=609225) from tech week so go check them out! I think I’m coming back to the cyber tomorrow so I can write more.

Love you all!!!





Update: new languages, new experiences, same latrine!

31 07 2010

Hey everyone! I know it’s been a really long time since I’ve written, I apologize!

Back to my life here in Burkina………

We have just finished week 5 of 9 weeks of training!!!!! I have only been here for one month and it feels like Ive been here for a year. Training is really grueling and the constant lack of free time and privacy have proven to be more difficult to bare than I thought it would be. However, ça va aller!  the last time I wrote was just after Demyst. Since then a lot has happened, a lot of mundane stuff and some awesome stuff as well.  I will be focusing on the awesome stuff today!

First off I want to send a shout out to those of you who have written me letters or sent me packages, THANK YOU SO MLUCH!! You guys have no idea just how amazing it is to get mail here. Just for that moment while I’m reading your letter, I am transported back home and I dont feel so isolated or that I’m missing out on all of your lives. So in other news, we have finally reached our new training site. It was nice and all hanging out in Ouagadougou, but it wasn’t realistic. Now we are back in a smaller city and we get to interact and experience the culture more here.  Also, as of last Thursday we are in nez host families!! I am so excited about that because it zill help me mearn French better and faster!  Speaking of French, we had a second Language Placement interview mast Saturday and I got my results back!! I jumped up from intermediate low to Advanced-mid!!! Thats four whole levels!  Now I was fairly confident going into the LPI thinking I would jump up to Intermediate High best case, but Advanced mid?!?! I think that it isn’t really true but hey, I’ll never turn down a good grade!

A little about my new host family:

I have a mom, dad, two brothers, and two host sisters…there are a lot of other children around as well but I’m not really sure how they fit in haha! My host mom and dad are super nice and welcoming and trying really hard to make our stay comfortable which is nice. My two brothers, Constan and Jon are really fun and great to talk to about anything, its great french practice!  the food at dinner has been pretty good so far, and I finally had my first To experience. To my surprise I really enjoyed it! It doesnt actually taste like anything, it’s all about the sauce.  I have tried two sauces thus far – La sauce oseilles and La sauce Gumbo.

Training:

Training has been really interesting these last two weeks! We have had classes on building mud stoves, making soap, food security, Particaptory Analysis for Community Action (look it up its really cool!), finding funding resources, nutrition, etc. I’m learning so much here its overwhelming. Another thing that makes training more intense these days is that all of our technical sessions are now taught in French! That’s right kiddies, no more english! It is supposed to make us get use to techinical language in French and make us more comfortable when we are all alone in the big bad world of Burkina in only 4 more weeks!!! So when I get home these days my brain is sooooo tired! On top of all that we have started Local Language this week. For me that means Dioula! Dioula is pretty intense right now. maybe because it’s now the third language I have started learning here 😛 But it will come slowly I hope! My host mother speaks Dioula so that should help tremendously.

Well my time is about to be up on this Cyber cafe computer so I must go! I love you all!!!