Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lycee Frustrations, Happy Sensibilizations

April 12th

I try so hard to be calm in my dealings with people here. To be culturally appropriate. To not reveal how confusing and frustrating it can be. Today I didn't completely lose my composure, but it was a struggle. The long and short of it is that I had a meeting with the director of the high school to get permission to paint a mural about the fight against HIV/AIDS on one of their walls, timed to coincide with a talk on the subject by the Major. I got the money for the paint as part of a grant that was done by CHAT, our PCV health committee, that supplied money for murals all across the country, easily involving over half of the volunteers in Burkina. It was for World AIDS Day, back in December, but due to delays in getting the money most of us are doing it now. Each volunteer got a detailed budget, a list of things the community could donate to make up their contribution, a sample mural, ideas for activities that you could do in conjunction with your mural, etc.

The director agreed to at least let me do the mural and I think we'll work out the frustrations over the next few days. Mostly I think it's a difference in Burkinabe vs. American humor – they find some things very funny that we take to be downright rude. If I had more time and another location to put the mural I would strongly consider it, but it's almost the end of the school year, I'm leaving on vacation in a month, and since this mural is a part of a grant from many volunteers meaning that we need to hurry up and finish so we can submit the completion report. I'm not the last person to do my mural, but I don't want to be the one holding up the process.

We're still deciding where to put the mural, and what it will say – right now he'd like me to paint “Lycee Departemental Yardego Ouedraogo de Kossouka s'engage contre le VIH/SIDA” which is a lot to fit on the wall where he seems to want me to paint. I'm going to try and get him to move it, mostly because the wall he wants doesn't even start until 10 feet off the ground, and I'm much rather not be up on a ladder quite that high! We'll see, I'll make some sketches and I'll talk to him again on Monday.

On the other hand, the malaria sensibilizations at the primary schools yesterday and this morning went really well! Yesterday with Rosalie and Kimdaogo was, as always, a delight – the students were really getting into it and we asked them lots of questions to make sure they were getting the facts correct (you can't get malaria from eating green mangoes even though they ripen at the same time of year when people get malaria, etc). This morning 4 of my 6 ASCs couldn't make it, so I ended up doing most of the talking with Boureima translating (the two that were left aren't very talkative and I finally gave up on prodding them to speak and just did it myself). I thought it went really well – I like doing the lessons for the younger kids because even when they mix up the information they're just so eager and earnest about it, and they love when we call them up to act things out, in this case the girl who sleeps outside and gets malaria from a mosquito bite but goes to the CSPS for medicine and then sleeps under her mosquito net so she stays healthy. I found out that April 25th is World Malaria Day (maybe it's just a Peace Corps thing), so the timing of these sensibilizations is unexpectedly quite appropriate. 3 more to go!

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