Saturday, May 21, 2011

Men As Partners (MAP) Conference

Do you ever have those moments where you tell yourself: "Man! If I only knew about this/had do this sooner, it would've made life a lot easier?"

Throughout the whole Men As Partners (MAP) Conference (in French, Hommes Comme Partenaires), I kept telling myself that. It would've been perhaps the most effective training I could have received as a male Girls' Education and Empowerment (GEE) Volunteer and it was bittersweet that I was getting this training at the end of my service.

In any case, I thought it would be good to bring an extremely motivated and engaged counterpart, my friend and the President of the Parents' Association at my primary school (called APE - Association des Parents d'Elèves), Nazaire. I decided that he would be the best counterpart for the volunteer that replaces me, and what better way to introduce him to Peace Corps, our approach to community development and gender equality than by bringing him to the MAP Conference!

In essence, the MAP Conference compiled about 10-12 Peace Corps Volunteers from various regions in Burkina Faso, and each was asked to bring one motivated, male counterpart from their communities to participate. It was led by the Gender and Development (GAD) Committee of Peace Corps/Burkina Faso, and was the first of its kind to be done here.

Overall, an absolutely amazing training! We talked about gender roles, did many activities that you can find in our Life Skills book and were able to put to practice many of the things we learned throughout our 3 days of training.

My hope is that my replacement volunteer will have an easier transition to site when he/she arrives in September, and will have a counterpart that better understands Peace Corps, the GEE program and can work well with the new volunteer to get projects and activities going faster!

Nazaire and I during the last day, handing certificates to our counterparts.

Group picture -- all the volunteers and our counterparts.

One of my Peace Corps favorites, Lorena! And our matching US/BF pagne outfits. <3

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