2017 Day 12 & 13: Koudougou

Days 12 and 13

Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 January 2017

The only bus to Koudougou leaves at 1:30, so I had the morning free. Looking out into Yves’ and Odile’s yard, there were huge cartons of aid items under a protective tarpaulin. The shed they built, there at the rear, is also full of stuff.

Odile offered to drive me to a handicrafts store run by two women. It’s called Ma Copine.

One of the two was behind the counter and helped me pick some lovely things for our fundraising. She had a lot of personality.

I said goodby to Bobo and boarded the bus. It looked like it was a Chinese retread. But it made better time going back—just over five hours.

After a good night’s sleep, I started out Sunday in Mr. Nana’s Mercedes with 450,000 kms on it. My driver of the last five years or so was no longer here; I received an e-mail from him in Brooklyn! Mr. Nana’s younger brother Wenseslas was at the wheel; the traffic in Koudougou moves slowly.

Our first stop was Fayssatu’s house. She was helped by Solidarite? at the secondary level, repeated her last year after failing her baccalaureate exam and then failed it again last year. This does not prevent her from enrolling in a nursing school, and this she did. We are paying just her tuition; her Mom seems to earn some money from selling yoghurt. They have a comfortably furnished house.

Her father was a well-known hospital administrator. He died of a stroke a number of years ago. Fayssatu told her father from the age of 9 that she wanted to be a midwife, her mother said.

Left to right, Fayssatou’s Mom, Fayssatou and her younger brother. There are three children in all.

We’ll see if she can make it.

Next we went to Marie-The?re?se’s house. She’s the one recovering from an operation to remove an intestinal tumour. She seems in good spirits. Classes started at the end of December; her friend Arzuma photocopied class notes for her so that she could study from her hospital bed.

Her parents are subsistence farmers; she has two younger brothers.

She is studying modern literature and wants to teach at the secondary level.

I said good-bye, hoping Marie-The?re?se could catch up at school. She told me she had to go to Ouaga tomorrow for a check-up and she didn’t have the money. I gave her some. Then, uh-oh; another rooster. I could start a farm. Remembering Edwige’s advice, I accepted the beast and thanked them.

Next we want to Arzouma’s house. Again, we played follow-the-leader, past the University of Koudougou.

She was riding the bike that we bought for her. We arrived at her household. She was surrounded by various family members and neighbours.

We sat down with her and her “grandmother”. Actually, I think it’s her great aunt. Her parents were never married and split up when she was 3; she then went to live with her father’s aunt, who at the time had no children and asked to take her in. (Since then she’s had three of her own.)

She is studying history and says that she wants to be an archaeologist. I don’t know about the archaeologist part. Let’s take this one step at a time. At least she’s had a comfortable home thanks to “grandma” who works in the kitchen of a private secondary school.

We’ll see what she does with her life after a university education.

Our last visit of the morning was with another Marie-The?re?se, this one is in her second year of a three-year program in marketing. She had already stopped by to see me at Father Albert’s house (Day 7). She invited us into the family home; there seemed to be a meal in preparation. In fact, it was onions being prepared for sale at market.

We sat together to catch up. She lives here with her mother and two adult sisters; the three of them sell produce at the market as well as prepared meals at the front gate. Her father is dead more than 20 years.

She will try to get a job with a certificate that she can gain later this year after a competitive exam. If she has no luck, she will go on to her third year for the Licence degree. Her sights seem low.

After lunch, we headed off to visit Safiatou. She is in the second and last year of a primary school teacher training program. We brought a carton overflowing with books, a gift from Odile.

Safiatou’s husband Adama is at the University of Koudougou studying to be a school administrator. They live in university housing. They have a son, Samir, who is almost 2-1/2 now. Safiatou picked out this book for him.

Samir was in the hands of a family member who looks after him.

We talked about Safiatou’s budget and study program. In her second year, she spends much of the year in an internship at a school. In her case, the school is just next door. Then she returns to courses and a final exam. To get a job, she will have to pass a national competitive exam. There are private courses available to prepare for that exam. I gave her the extra money for them. We’ve done this with others with great success.

Adama, left, Safiatou and me.

We said good-bye and headed back to Father Albert’s house. Noe?lie helped me set up a meeting there of applicants for aid for the school year 2017-18. There were three from Solidarite? in their last year of secondary school: Me?laine, Rosaline and a third, Clarisse, who didn’t show up. (We would track her down later.) In addition, there was a candidate, Mai?lice, proposed by Lambert (the agronomist from Bobo). Finally, Estelle, a candidate already approved last year who, for health reasons, didn’t start the school year on time and who came with her father to sort things out.

I gave them pep talk, then handed out initial application forms, “Expression of Interest”. Once they had finished the school year, they would submit a longer, formal application.

They all carefully studied the form and filled in the blanks.

I later spoke privately with Estelle and her Dad. We agreed that she should study dressmaking with Noe?lie and that she should start right away. Noe?lie agreed. Estelle would need a bicycle, lunch money and the usual hygiene and health supplements. Done.


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