Friday, 6 September 2013

The Pabre Experience

Recently, we had the pleasure of embarking on a trip to Pabre, a commune of the Kadiogo Province in central Burkina Faso. This was all thanks to Freddie (Handicap Solidaire Burkina's Programmes Coordinator), who thought it would be a good idea for us to get a first-hand view of his childhood and a better way for us to immerse ourselves in the Burkinabe culture. This has been a HSB tradition for years.

As much as we work together on a regular basic, I found that I didn’t know much about Freddie’s childhood experiences of disability - a story I was later told of rejection, struggle and overcoming the Burkinabe ideologies of disability.

We arrived at Pabre after a 45min drive from Ouagadougou. We met Freddie’s wife and son then progressed to a huge celebration in the centre of the town. As more than 19 percent of Burkinabe’s are Catholics, the locals had created an open street event with food, music, a talkative DJ, tents and some games in celebration of the assumption of Mary.

Dana took this as an opportunity to show Danny, some Swiss volunteers and I Pabre’s notorious market place, beach (as Burkina is a landlocked country a beach is usually what I would classify as a huge pond) and forest. The market place was lacking its supposed usual vibrancy as it is currently rainy season. A lot of the stall owners were absent hence almost half the market was empty without any stalls.

After a ten minutes’ walk, we stood facing the ‘beach’ then embarked on a short walk around the forest. The whole area was calm, quiet and oh so serene. I tried taking many pictures and videos but none captured the true essence of our surroundings. It felt good to leave Ouaga for a day and integrate and experience Burkinabe culture from another angle. After some drinks, brochettes (roasted meat on a stick) and a lot of bread, Danny, the Swiss volunteers and I decided to immerse ourselves with the locals by playing some of their games.

The first game we played involved a stick with a string and hook attached to it. The aim of the game was to place the hook on the tip of the bottle and slant it down. The winner gets a free bottle of Brakina beer (local beer). Danny WON twice. Another game involved kicking a football through tyres, which we all failed at miserably. The last game was the most fun, it involved us throwing hoops on top of packaged items (pasta, sardines, soap, tissues etc) on the floor. Whichever item our hoop landed on was our winning. We only won a match stick and a can of sardines.*insert not impressed face*
As the day drew nearer to a close we found ourselves marvelling at Africa’s infamous Baobab tree ('The Tree of Life'). The Baobab tree is seen as an icon of the African savannah. It is seen as a symbol of life and positivity throughout all obstacles. The phrase ‘tree of life’ is coined in religious history. Many Christians and Muslims believe the original Tree of Life was In the Garden of Eden. Recently though the Baobab plant has become a phenomenon in the West for its vitamins and anti-ageing benefits.

- Aminata

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