Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kampti Girls' Camp 2011: Today's Motivated Girls. Tomorrow's Model Women.

Kampti Girls' Camp 2011.

Camp des Filles de Kampti 2011.

Theme: "Today's Motivated Girls. Tomorrow's Model Women."

Thème: "Les Filles Motivées d'Aujourd'hui. Les Femmes Modèles de l'Avenir."

I wanted my final project/activity at site to be a culmination of everything I've done during my two years here in Burkina Faso, but also a collaboration with fellow Peace Corps Volunteers in my region, community stakeholders at my site, parents, staff at the village medical clinic, etc.

It was modeled pretty much after the camps I did with Jon in January of this year. I worked a lot with one primary school but I wanted to implicate at least two others in my town. So we had a total of 20 of the highest-achieving girls in CM2 that were continuing to the next level (middle school). Only 17 actually came, but it was still well worth the effort!

The Camp's activities revolved around four (4) key themes: 1) Life Skills (setting objectives and goals, planning for the future, a panel of model women in the community speaking to the girls); 2) Health (proper hygiene and handwashing, malaria prevention and HIV/AIDS awareness sessions done by nurses at the village medical center, proper nutrition, Moringa planting); 3) English (basic greetings, numbers, simple objects); and 4) Sports (soccer).

The Camp itself was structured from 8:00am-12:30pm everyday at the middle/high school, Tuesday, June 21st to Saturday, June 25th. Everyday, we touched each of the four themes to make it as comprehensive and as interesting as possible. I'll let the pictures dictate what happened. Enjoy!

Preparing for the first day at my house. Of course, Hercules has to try to help!

Day 1: Hercules followed us everyday to the Camp site. So cute!

Day 1: Welcoming them to the Girls' Camp.

Day 1: Preparing for the English session. Drawing a diagram of the parts of the day.

Day 1: Heading with the girls to the CSPS (village medical clinic) to learn more about HIV/AIDS from my friend Koro. Next to the sign at my site!

Day 1: My friend Koro leading the HIV/AIDS presentation. We talked about what is HIV/AIDS, the modes of transmission and the modes of prevention. Interesting stuff! It's never too early to talk about this.

Day 2: Jane helps lead them in soccer exercises. We did soccer every morning.

Day 2: A nutrition lesson on the three primary groups and how having a balanced diet is important to leading a healthy life. We had a lot of fun activities related to this to make it as interesting as possible; such as this matching game of the most common foods the girls eat at home.

Day 2: The girls gathering soil to start a Moringa nursery.

Day 2: Watering each girls' Moringa nursery seedling. It's Kadidja in this picture!

Day 2: Jane helping me lead the self-esteem/Life Skills session of the day. We read fictional stories of girls that excelled in certain areas (did well in school, were respectful to their teachers and parents, etc. etc.). We made a list on the board, asked the girls if they thought they possessed that quality, and asked them to repeat it aloud as an affirmation. Very powerful!

Day 2: English time. They love this stuff...and they're so adept at it, too!

Day 2: Brenda preparing the stickers, our main form of rewards for the girls.

Day 2: The girls reading the Moringa information booklets we gave them. Thanks, Peace Corps!

Day 3: While the girls were playing soccer outside, I caught Hercules trying to intimidate a cow after a herd was passing by. Really, Hercules? A cow? That thing could've easily beat you up in a second!

Day 3: Daniel arrives and he leads the training on how to make liquid soap.

Day 3: Solange and Véronique taking notes.

Day 3: Funny story! Before Daniel started his presentation on liquid soap, I placed all the materials on the floor to show the girls. Tansagex, sea salt, water, buckets, perfume and coloring powder. While Daniel's doing his presentation, Brenda, Jane and I are just sitting on the side...until Jane notices something missing: the bag of blue coloring powder! Then I immediately notice that Hercules is gone, so Brenda and I run outside to find him actually eating some of it! Silly dog. And it was all over his mouth, too. Haha!

Day 3: Brenda and I do a little theatre piece on the differences between aggressive, passive and confident behavior, and how one's behavior can be portrayed differently by different people.

Day 3: The girls do their own theatre pieces! They're natural actresses!

Day 3: Continuing with passive, aggressive and confident behavior, we did a group activity showing that your body language can many times say a lot more than your verbal language.

Day 3: Starting the two-day process of making liquid soap.

Day 3: Group picture with Jane before she heads back to her site!

Day 3: Picture with my favorite student (Kadidja) wearing St. Joachim shirts!

Day 3: Daniel preparing for day four of making neem cream (a good deterrent for mosquitoes carrying malaria).

Day 4: The second day of the liquid soap making process -- mixing in the coloring powder.

Day 4: And finally bottling our liquid soap.

Day 4: Jon comes to help! During the break, we gave the girls popcorn as a little snack.

Day 4: I wanted to finish the liquid soap making so that it would lead in perfectly to my session on proper handwashing. Sweet!

Day 4: We also started making the neem cream for our malaria session the following day.

So cute! Carrying water to their house.

Day 5: Our three model women for our Model Women Panel -- Madame Sophie Ouédraogo, Director of the Caisse Populaire (local bank); Madame Korotimi (Koro) Wélingué, Midwife at the CSPS (village medical clinic); and Madame Monique Pooda, Director of Non-Formal Education Center in Kampti. I wanted motivated women from different fields (finance, health and education) to speak on their experiences growing up, talk about their work and give some words of encouragement to these girls. So inspiring -- I think I almost cried a few times!

Day 5: Handing out Certificates of Appreciation to our model women!

Day 5: And giving them a little gift of the liquid soap we made!

Day 5: Group picture with our model women.

Day 5: Daniel distributing the neem cream to be used to protect against mosquitoes carrying malaria. And it smelled really good, too!

Day 5: Handing all of our girls Certificates of Participation. You'll notice many of these pictures are with Kadidja -- I try not to have favorites but she is the most respectful, polite, intelligent student I've ever worked with! I know she'll go far in life.

Day 5: With my partner-in-crime for my whole Girls' Camp, Brenda!

Day 5: Distributing bracelets that the girls can keep to remind them of their time and all they learned during our Girls' Camp together.

Day 5: Final group picture!! <3

Overall, a HUGE success and I couldn't have been more pleased with my final project at site! I was also able to create a 43-page Girls' Camp Guide in French that details all of the sessions so that fellow Peace Corps Volunteers in French-speaking countries can replicate it. Everyone should be able to view it on the Peace Corps Burkina Faso website (

Special thanks goes out to fellow Peace Corps Volunteers in my region that helped out: Brenda (who stayed for the whole week!), Daniel, Jane and Jon. Also the many people at my site that made this event possible, most especially the women of my Model Women's Panel!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Colette comes to visit me at my site!

After almost two years of talking about it, Colette finally comes to visit me at my site! I'll let the pictures tell the story, but it was a great time showing Colette my neck of the woods in Burkina Faso. Talk about coming full circle!

Baltazar making the traditional African tea. Talk about a 12:00pm-3:00pm 'repos' ritual. Three glasses of tea and endless amounts of conversation! Note Hercules always by my side...awww...

At the market chez Valerie, where I buy most of my produce.

Why do the Burkinabè get so awkward the moment you whip out a camera? Note the woman to the right of this picture...

A view of the main road at my site.

With Boureima. I buy most of my things at his shop -- pasta noodles, mayonnaise, matches, candles, everything! I probably spent most of my money here.

Oranges! Although oranges here aren't necessarily orange as they are green...

Typical transport situation in Burkina Faso. This is the bus I usually take for long-distance travels. We're at a stop, and normally many women come to the side of the bus to sell all sorts of goodies!

Pelagie and Grace!

If you look back to a past blog entry I had where I visited Colette's site, you'll see that she too also has a similar set-up with the stove on the bottom and the Afrique wall decoration on the wall. Great minds think alike!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Shannon's Birthday at my site!

What better way to spend your birthday with your loving, creative friends, right? Well, let's just say we decided to give Shannon a birthday surprise with an interesting twist...Mexican! With a pinata (made by Brenda and Jane) and some empanadas for dinner. Yum! And instead of doing it Gaoua, everyone decided to come to my house. Sweet. Enjoy the pictures below!

Brenda and I piecing together the pinata. I tell you, folks -- in Burkina Faso, this takes intense creativity to find the materials necessary to build this!

Getting ready to surprise Shannon!

Helping to hoister up the pinata...

Of course, our trusted rock-climber Jon climbs the tree with ease and hangs our pinata for us. I wonder to this day if he wasn't we would have done it.

YES. It was THAT exciting!

Chillin' on my porch...

I swear, every day here is some new, random adventure...even if I'm just at my house with a few friends, celebrating a birthday. Oh, Burkina. =)