2017 Day 19

Saturday 28 January

We started the day with a visit to Josiane’s aunt’s house, where she lives during the school year. She borrowed her aunt’s motorbike to guide us to the spot.

She invited is into a well-kept courtyard.

We sat and chatted in a cosy living room.

Her aunt has five children, and Josiane sleeps with two of her daughters, here.

She is in her second year of law school and is doing well. (We already checked with the school.) Everything seemed cool on the home front. I have high hopes for her.

Laure Estelle graduated from the University of Koudougou where we supported her for three years through a Master’s. She got up this morning to catch a 6 a.m. bus to travel four hours to have lunch with me. We drove to meet her at the bus station. The streets were abuzz with national fervor: Burkina Faso was doing better than expected in the biennial Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament being held in Gabon. They made it to the quarter-finals. You could buy flags and horns at every street corner.

Abdoulaye joined me and Laure Estelle for lunch in a restaurant recommended by Christiane.

She’s a modern literature teacher in a secondary school on Kalsaka, hundreds of miles from here. After teaching for free for one year, as part of national service, she now receives the rather handsome salary of 200,000 f CFA a month (300€). Her older brother has a job as a policeman, and together they are able to pay for her mother’s heart medication and to send a younger brother and two sisters to school. And she has a boyfriend who is a school teacher.

A story with a happy ending.

After lunch, we went shopping. Every year I buy handicrafts to sell at home for our association. I’ve been buying bronze sculptures from Kalifa for about five years now. He works out of a handicrafts center in the middle of town.

How to choose?

I found a way, and took a dozen. Kalifa wrapped them up for me.

I also bought a couple of batiks from Saidou, who was at work in the yard.

Then more shopping. This is my third year, I think, of visiting Else, the former Danish representative of the Red Cross in West Africa. As a retirement project, she set up a women’s cooperative, teaching them how to make things that Europeans would buy. Else and I sat in the shade to catch up.

She calls her cooperative Kologh Naba, which in the local language means “near the chief”. It’s a comforting thought, being under the protection of the chief. A local wood sculptor fashioned her logo out of a log. I bought a ton of stuff—aprons, tea towels, girls’ dresses, soap made from Karite? (Shea nut) butter.

I unwisely scheduled another appointment, this one with Le?ocadie, a nursing student who graduated in 2015 and still hadn’t found a job. But she lived far away, and horns were blaring—Burkina Faso had beaten Guinea-Bissau 2-0 and were going into the semi-finals! Every intersection was blocked by hundreds of revellers.

By the time we got to Le?ocadie, it was dark.

We sat in the yard with her older sister, her husband and three children. Abdulaye, my chauffeur and photographer, checked out his latest shots.

Le?ocadie explained that she took the exam for government service a second time in December and was awaiting the results. I wished her luck.

I got back to the hotel late. I had scheduled dinner with my former intern, Marion. Her boyfriend owns a small hotel and bar, with a gift shop. I bought more stuff. And so ended my long day.

France

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