Monday, 20 January 2014

Project HSB- Monday 20th January

Y wineega (good afternoon) from Burkina! Just over a week ago 22 International Service volunteers stepped off the plane into the hot and dusty atmosphere, eager to ‘challenge ourselves to change the world’. After being greeted by friendly team leaders and national volunteers at Ouagadougou airport, it finally sunk in that we were finally here and about to begin our ICS placement. Scary! Apprehensive about seeing our accommodation, we hopped on the bus to go to what would be home sweet home for the next 3 months. After getting settled in and unpacked at Maison Djigui we decided after our long day we would turn in for the night.

The next day we arrived at the Palais (the Palace as we called it) bright and early to begin our training to prepare us for the next 3 months. The next 4 days were spent getting to know our national volunteers, including HSBs Franceline and Alexis – in broken French (which will hopefully improve) – learning in more depth about our projects and International Service. Most importantly we had Mooré and French lessons which we had the chance to use at a market, which the locals found extremely amusing! However we did get a ‘clap clap clap GREAT!’ from our Mooré teacher which is a start.

After a day off to explore our surroundings, including our first solo market trip – bartering in Mooré is quite an experience- we began to feel settled in Pissi and promptly became experts in African timing (very sloooooooooow). On Wednesday we began work at HSB where Souad gave us a tour of all the wonderful aspects at HSB including a visit to the welding workshop. The workers there were very inspiring and were keen to show us the impressive wheelchairs they had made. They had an order of 400 to make in 2 month so we left them to carry on the hard work! Over the next few days we really got an insight to the incredible work HSB carry out. 

On Thursday the children from Espace Bambino visited for their weekly physiotherapy session. It was an absolute pleasure to see their smiling faces for the first time and we hopefully see them a lot more in the activities we have prepared for over the next 3 months. We got to experience a wonderful moment when Razac tried on leg braces for the first time. Although he was in alot of pain they will improve his mobility in the future! It is a shame that they had not been fitted earlier.

Friday was spent visiting one of the schools which HSB has sponsored a child to go to. The school gives opportunities for handicap children to be integrated  and to help them develop skills in order to help them in the future. After being greeted by the head teacher we got hands on – literally- and made papier mache bowls and cups (which the students make to be sold on). These activities really promoted independence for the students and they seemed to thoroughly enjoy being at the school. We met an autistic, aspiring architect who had at the school who was willing to show us all the amazing drawings he had done. We were all amazed!

We spent Saturday at a small village outside of Ouaga called Pabré where we had been invited to a ceremony to celebrate the life of a Chief of the village who sadly passed away in March. The day consisted of visiting different family members who kindly cooked traditional Burkinabe food including To and broschettes- Yum! It was very interesting to see how different our two cultures are. Burkinabe’s look at this in a more positive way and use it as an opportunity to celebrate their life! An interesting and exciting week in Burkina! Many more to come. 

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