Tag Archives: education

Hosting Development

On my previous post “Finding my way through Service” (on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140917151341-42414239-finding-my-way-through-service?trk=mp-reader-card) a reader commented and his comments again brought me to reflection.  His comments were centered around the fact that my time abroad working/ volunteering has not helped anyone except me.  The reader discussed his interactions with Peace Corps volunteers over the past several years; and how he did not see much good or development coming out of such organizations.  I reminded the reader that development is not always tangible. Development can occur with knowledge and resource sharing.  Human resources are often overlooked when we think about development.  Nonetheless, his comments made me reflect if there has been an impact due to my presence in the developing country in which I reside (Burkina Faso).  As it turns out I didn’t have to look nor reflect so far or so long before the answer surfaced.

Many of you may not know, but usually when Peace Volunteers enter into a country, we are placed with host families.  These families are an important if not obligatory part of the program.  The host families help integrate the volunteer, and serves as a support among other things.  In my situation I forged a great and lasting relationship with my host family.  We shared many great and some sad experiences together.  However, the most remarkable of my time with the host family were the days and nights we were able to have “causerie” (chats/ dialogue).  It was during that time that I shared my experiences of school, and forging through tough times in my education.  It was during that time that my host brothers and sisters shared their frustrations with the education system in Burkina. It was during that time that we shared notes on similar life experiences as a student.  It was during that time in which we learned from one another.  However, I think what was most remarkable to them was the will I showed to be successful in the harsh conditions.  To endure a heat that was unimaginable to me, along with all the other uncertainties was something that stuck in their minds.  There was one host brother at the time who was not in school and was trying to make his way working.  I had many conversations with him regarding education and its importance.  I listened to him as he reminisced about being in school when he was younger.  I had no idea the impact our conversations would have on him in the near future.

About a year and a half ago, the same host brother that was out of school called me saying that he saw me on television presenting graduation diplomas.  The university is called CFPREM International and I was asked to be a visiting professor/ collaborator where I perform different activities such as judging English competitions, providing career counseling, and lecture.  Based on what my host brother saw on television, he went to the university and there he saw a photo of me with some of the professors.  He did his research on the different programs and eventually enrolled.  On October 11 I was asked to once again present diplomas at the CFPREM International graduation.  When I arrived I saw my host brother dressed in his graduation regalia.  But what I didn’t know was that he was not just a regular student graduating.  It was during the course of the graduation ceremony that I learned that my host brother was not only the class president, but also valedictorian.  He graduated at the top of his class, and won so many awards that at one point when the announcer called his name he was shocked that it was him again.  He received a scholarship to continue his studies, and an offer of employment.  He later told me as we were taking photos that our conversations served as an inspiration. He stated that no one else spoke to him about the real importance of education. Lastly, he stated that sharing my experiences of also struggling as a student in America helped him realize you can still be successful even in the face of challenges.  All he needed was a push, a story different but same as his own, and a physical example plus his will.

When I think about development, and especially my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer, it is the human relationships that come to mind.  Unwittingly my presence in this country has put a lasting effect on someone and many others just as they have put a lasting effect on me.  What my host brother has gained is beyond development as he can start to break a generational cycle of poverty.  The implications of his actions will be felt for generations to come.IMG_0297IMG_0294 IMG_0289 IMG_0286

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Invite to Influence

I am excited to have been invited to be an influencer on LinkedIn. My first post is featured and can be accessed at http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140630150029-42414239-from-crisis-to-unemployment?trk=object-title

Video

Impromptu Capacity Building

Impromptu life

Some middle school to high school girls ran into me while in village and asked if I could help them understand their menstrual cycles and how to track it.

Community is needed

Hello Community, LIFE

WANPOT has created a crowds funding for our project to make a big impact at the community and national level.  We have pooled our resources and still have some ways to go.  LIFE is an educational program that will inform girls and teachers in various life skill matters such as gender violence, and sexual reproduction health.  However we have a peace building curriculum and after school activities that include clubs and the arts.  All activities are for social and cultural building.  The link for further information is: http://gogetfunding.com/project/life-3Image

Soy a long way.

IMG_1287 IMG_1292 IMG_1293 IMG_1296 IMG_1298 IMG_1300 IMG_1301Exactly one year ago this time I received a grant / merit award from VegFund for a project that support individuals and nonprofit organizations who are interested in vegan advocacy. My proposed project was an income generating training in soy/tofu making in a rural village in Burkina Faso, West Africa. More can be read about it at https://internationalesawyer.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/two-months-of-awareness/.

The training was a tremendous success and as word spread more women got involved. One such woman is featured here in this post. Her name is Bimbatta and is a mother of 3. Her husband passed away two months after the birth of their third child Sheikh. Shortly after he passed away Bimbatta found herself with no money, no place to stay, and no assets. In her husband’s ethic group when the husband passes away they are entitled to all possessions even the children. Therefore, the family along with all the materials found inside reclaimed Bimbatta the land, which her husband purchased. Bimbatta later told me that they left her with the currency equivalent of 5 USD to take care of her three kids and she had no job or any skills beyond childcare. After much pleading her husband’s family decided that they would leave her with her youngest two children and opted to adopt her oldest son instead.

When I met Bimbatta she was in attendance at one of our soy/tofu trainings last year June 2013. She later spoke with me stating that she has nothing and is staying with her sister. She said that she would like to learn how to make the soy/tofu, however she has no money to bay for the materials to get started. I told her not to worry because she can join the group of women that have started making the products and she can reimburse what she uses once she starts to make a profit.

Well that was a year ago and today Bimbatta is self-sufficient, as she has started a small enterprise called Soy Food Development. She sells soy yoghurt, soy couscous, soy kebabs, and many more soy based products. She makes the product based on order and she delivers at an agreed upon location. Today Bimbatta is a proud mother that can provide for her family. She can pay for the school fees for her two older children, she can provide food, pay her bills, and pay for medicine in case of illness.

I am very proud of her and the fact that a selfless act such as providing an income generating training has brought lasting hope.

Please enjoy a few photos.

Two Months of Awareness

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Between April 5 2013- May 27 2013 I along with a soy food facilitator offered soy food and tofu trainings 3 days a week and campaign awareness 2 days a week for community members in the village of Tcheriba, Burkina Faso.  The schedule is as follows:

April 5 9am-12pm: Large town hall meeting is called with all community associations, and community members to discuss the start of the Soy/tofu trainings.  One hundred and sixty-seven people attend (167). During this town hall meeting the following topics were discussed:

-What is Veganism?

-Nutrition and combatting malnutrition

-The role of animals in “man’s” life (treating animals with dignity)

-Meat versus Soy products

-Soy products easier than assumed (overview of soy and tofu products that can be made easily)

A sign -up sheet was circulated for the soy food training beginning on April 8 through May 27.

Objective 1: Community members learn how to make soy and tofu products for nutrition, and income generating activities.

Two sessions every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Soy and Tofu product making

MTW 8AM- 12PM: Soy milk, yogurt, and ice cream making

MTW 2PM-6PM: Tofu kebabs, and flavored soy juice

Objective 2: to educate community members on the health benefits of veganism and to improve the treatment of animals.

Thursday and Friday 2pm-5pm

Campaign Awareness

Awareness of veganism and the health benefits. Animal cruelty awareness and different forms of abuse to animals.  During these campaigns we used theater for animation of the topic. At the beginning of the sessions a survey was given to test the knowledge of the participants on animal cruelty and veganism.  The survey results showed that 100% of the participants were non -vegan.  Furthermore, those who do not eat meat are because of poverty.  They cannot afford to buy meat, therefore it is not a conscious choice but rather forced because of their circumstances.

Special activity:  Through some networking I became acquainted with Donkey Sanctuary International. A UK NGO that works with communities and their donkeys around the world.

During the week of May 7th to May 14 is International Donkey Week.  I incorporated this into my awareness campaign on animal rights and cruelty.  I targeted children and farmers who have the most interaction with animals. Additionally, although donkeys are mistreated they actually a commodity in most developing countries.  In this village donkeys are an essential player in the daily lives of the community members. They carry items ranging from bricks to construct, water jugs, supplies, and more. They are used as a mode of transportation, and accompany farmers while at the farm.  It was important to have people understand their importance and how to treat them accordingly.

Participants of International Donkey Week 42 adults (15 women, 27 men) and 61 children (29 girls and 32 boys).

May 7th– 8th 

Activity 1:

– Participants learn about the importance of donkeys in their day to day survival (carrying materials, as a mode of transportation, etc.)

-Awareness of donkey welfare.

-Sanitation with farming animals (included collecting animal excrement and using as fertilizer later)

May 9th -10th 

Activity 2:

-Community wide trash pick- up (a main killer and health risk for animals in this village is plastic bag consumption)

May 11th -12th

Activity 3:

Child play and donkeys. Children often believe the way in which they play with animals is innocent. However, sometimes their play is rough and can be categorized as animal cruelty.  In this activity children learn new playing methods with donkeys.

May 13th

Activity 4:

Participants learn to groom their donkey (brushing, bathing, and general donkey hygiene.) Local veterinarian attended to give tips on donkey well-being

May 14th 

Activity 5:

Closing ceremony of a skit made by the participating children.

Refreshments of soy products served.

Result 1: 237(145 women, 92 men) community members are directly trained and make soy milk, tofu kebabs, soy flavored juice, soy yogurt and ice cream.

Result 2: 415 students (239 primary school students, 176 high school students) receive direct awareness on soy health benefits and animal cruelty awareness. 184 adults (118 women, 66 men) (22 men and women from the Parent/ Teacher Association) receive awareness on animal cruelty and vegan/soy benefits.

Result 3: 52 women (or 2 women’s associations) are generating income selling tofu kebabs and soy yogurt.

Unexpected result 1: school officials decide to include soy products as part of lunch for primary school children in Tcheriba.

Unexpected result 2: 30% of participants replace meat with soy products.

*the end of project survey results showed: 30% of participants have already replaced meat in their diet; 22% say they have reduced their meat intake, and 60% say they treat their animals better.

*in the upcoming months case studies will be conducted and posted.