Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Meeting Village Leaders

22 December – Kossouka, 8:56pm

Boriema, my CoGes treasurer, came over and took me to be introduced me to the prefet, the first adjoint (Francois) and the second adjoint (Miriam) of the mayor, some of the teachers at the closest primary school, and the chief. Thankfully all of them spoke French and we were actually able to talk a little about why I was here, what I hoped to do, and what I liked so far about living here. I was surprised at how friendly the chief was, especially after how formal the chief of Romongo was, but we had a nice little conversation and he seems like the kind of guy you could show up and visit. When we got back to the CSPS Boriema promised that tomorrow or the day after we'll go meet the vielles and the chief de terre, and while we were standing there I met Moussa, perhaps my favorite person in the whole village for his absolutely amazing English.

Francois made a lovely little speech today that really touched me – I felt a little teary-eyed and my cheeks hurt from smiling so hard. The gist of it was that he was incredibly happy to have me, and that now I was from Kossouka, working with my mother and father, my brothers and sisters, to improve the health of our family. There was a lot more to it – Burkinabe are absolutely amazing at giving moving off-the-cuff speeches – but that was what I translated to English in my head so I would remember it. I always feel the need to respond in kind, but I can hardly explain why I'm here, let alone express all my desires for working with people here, to take on their problems and find solutions in the community and how excited I am to be here and get to know people and to identify myself as part of the village.

We ended the evening hanging out in front of the CSPS with the staff and whoever wandered by. I still felt like a clear outsider, but I'm content to just sit and listen to their mix of French/Moore while watching the sun set. I'll admit, just being around people who could understand me and who I could understand, feeling like something useful was happening – it was a nice change of pace. Did my laundry for the first time and then realized that my wet clothing would then be subjected to the dusty winds of my courtyard, kind of defeating the point of washing them. My shirts are in need of a second wash, but the rest turned out pretty well for just being dunked and agitated in soapy water a couple of times – I didn't feel like going into the whole scrubbing and wringing multiple times routine that I did at my host family because I had a lot to wash.

Tomorrow I'm going to hang out at the CSPS for the morning, since it's vaccination day, and then I want to bike to Segenega to buy staple foods. Frankly, as interesting as oatmeal and soup is, I think I should actually be learning to do more than just heat up water – I have yet to actually “cook” anything that requires more than adding boiled water and stirring.

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