Friday, 24 October 2014

Bonding with the HSB staff!

Well well, week four is already drawing to a close, and we can’t believe we’re on our fourth blog post already!

This week we’ve decided to speak about the visits that the UK volunteers took part in last weekend: in pairs (or all alone if you happened to be Mel), we went to visit members of the HSB staff and meet their families. This turned out to be a really interesting and revealing experience for all of the volunteers, and you can find two of our stories here below:


The Team Leaders got to come along on the home visits this time so that we could help with translation. I was really pleased about this because it was great to get an insight into the family life of the people we tend to only see in the office. So on Saturday I found myself in the village of Pabré with Tom, one of the volunteers from the Inclusive Sports team. Pabré is a picturesque village just outside Ouaga, and it also happens to be where Freddie the HSB Coordinator lives. It’s quite small and remote, but also very lively (especially on market days!) and it even has its own Mayor. 
This fabulous specimen sits right next to the appropriately-named "Maquis Baobab" in Pabré 
After honestly the best spaghetti and sauce I’ve had yet in Burkina, which was prepared by Freddie’s wife Irène, and after crooning for a while over their adorable younger son Isidore, we set off with Freddie on a tour of the village. We drove around for a while admiring the scenery (it really was lovely: open spaces, trees, the first man-made lake in Burkina and sporadic crops of millet all featured), before beginning the “tour” itself. The latter turned out to be a tour of the village maquis*! It was actually a great way to get to know the locals, as Freddie is a popular guy and we were joined by lots of friendly faces along the way. I got the impression that a volunteer staying in the village would really be able to integrate into the life there, and would definitely learn Mooré sharpish: not a lot of people in Pabré speak fluent French.

Overall the day was a success and a great insight into a “day in the life” in a more rural setting in Burkina. I would definitely advocate house visits for future cohorts, as it’s really important to integrate and learn as much about the community you’re living in as possible. And three months is not a long time – we’re nearly half way through already, eek! 


This last weekend was home stay Saturday, where the team split up and went to spend the day with a member of the HSB team. I woke up early, slightly nervous at the prospect of the day ahead of me, my French still dawdling at conversational level. From the moment I arrived at Natalie’s house my nerves instantly disappeared as I was met by Natalie’s warmth and friendliness. After showing me around her house and introducing me to her brothers we began to prepare food for dinner; which was one of the best meals I have eaten in my time here: chips, plantain and fried fish. Whilst we peeled potatoes and de-shelled peanuts, Natalie shared with me her story behind her disability and how it had affected her relationship with some members of her family and how this had motivated her work at HSB. I was touched by her openness and felt honoured to be able to talk about something so personal with her. She felt that it was a lack of education in others that had made her situation harder after becoming disabled. Now she works at HSB providing advice, support and most importantly, education to families with a child with disabilities. Having spoken to Natalie it has affirmed for me the belief that education is the key to tackling the discrimination often faced by people with disabilities. In Burkina, for example, there are some that believe that those with disabilities are serpents, or that sleeping with a disabled woman brings riches. If people like Natalie continue to fight stigma and discrimination by providing education on disabilities to both the families of people living with a disability and the wider community, then I think we have a better chance of stopping it for good; at least I hope so. This home-stay not only both empowered and motivated me to continue my work at HSB and meet our goals, but it brought me closer to Natalie, whom before was a work colleague, and now is a good friend.

(*small bars/cafés that are everywhere in Burkina)

1 comment:

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