Planting for Fun and Service

Three weeks ago a group of Ouagadougou-doers made a community service trip to a city about 3 hours or almost 200km northwest of Ouaga called Ouahigouya. Internationalesawyer is a part of a group that is also known as Burkinabe-alumni-association. This group is in association with the United States Department of State and is an International Exchange Alumni Program in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Internationalesawyer is able to participate in this group. Peace Corps and Fulbright and many exchange programs qualify to participate. Internationalesawyer, a member since 2011 finds the Burkinabe- alumni- association is an excellent opportunity to continue to serve in various communities in Burkina Faso. The passion of service continues with this group. On August 9, 2014 we had an outing to do a tree planting and campaign awareness in Ouahigouya, where there are very few trees.

We left early on a Saturday morning with some members of the US Embassy of Burkina Faso to plant almost 200 trees. There is an enormous lack of trees in this city due to the climate, which is unfavorable to producing trees. This city has a history of drought and locust; moreover, some inhabitants still practice cutting trees for firewood and charcoal. We decided to pick two areas to plant trees of different varieties. This included mango and baobab trees. We received permission from the local mayor’s office and they helped in the effort by providing some materials for digging and extra womanpower for the planting. In all we had roughly 75 people, however once we entered into the city streets to plant along the medium, several children joined the effort. Abdoulye the leader of the group used this as an excellent opportunity to give impromptu campaign awareness. The children answered questions about the environment and the value of trees for our lives. This was a perfect entry, as we walked to the mayor’s office to continue the program with the group of women who helped plant trees. The members from the US Embassy and the President of the Burkinabe association alumni group held an informal discussion with the audience on women’s rights.

Additionally, communications officer of the Burkinabe association alumni group gave an animated speech in one of the local languages, Mooré. The speech used audience participation and was greatly appreciated by the women who only speak Mooré and not French. The speaker discussed marital rights, child protection, and women’s rights in Burkina Faso and how they relate to women living in rural areas such as in Ouahigouya.

The program was successful and we all left satisfied especially since the mayor’s office will take the responsibility to maintain the trees. We are still hungry to help other communities that are looking for support in these types of events.
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