Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bike Tour East!

Bike Tour EAST!


Bike tour east started in the lovely ville of Koupela at volunteer Mandy Kruse's site. It was a busy market day so volunteers seized the opportunity by handing out fliers about the cause and prevention of malaria, one of the biggest health problems in Burkina Faso. They reached out to 120 people and had a blast!

 Volunteers David S., Jessica and Calder talk to people in the market about malaria.


 The next day volunteers woke up bright and early to bike the 30 kilometers to volunteer David Zamkov's site. They also took adavantage of market day and taught 75 people how to make liquid soap. They related this wonderful income generating activity to gender and development by providing a great idea for a woman's group.

Volunteers David Z and Brittany lead the soap making process.

Volunteers on their way to Dialgaye


On a roll with hitting all the market days, volunteers left for Zigla Koupele, another 40 kilometers away. Feeling theatrical after all the endorphin, 8 volunteers played their hearts out in a skit discussing HIV/AIDS. In it, a couple (a pregnant woman and her man) took an HIV test at the maternity and attended education classes in village, talking about the transmission and prevention of HIV. 61 people gave a standing ovation.
Volunteer David Z sweating on his way to Zigla

Volunteer Christina truly embracing her character in the skit.


Bike tour experts at this point, volunteers took it easy the following day by waking up a little later and biking the short 12 km to volunteer Natalie's site at Komtoyga. But having such a short bike ride didn't mean the volunteers begin to slack off when it came to work. In addition to speaking to people about gender roles and girls' education, 9 volunteers discussed hygiene with 34 people. They explained the importance of proper hand washing and how people can get sick from not washing their hands. They then sweat it out by installing 4 handwashing stations, also known as the "Tippy Tap," at different restaurants in the market place.


Motivated from all the clean hands at the previous site, volunteers left bright at early and sped the 75 km to Kristine's site at Guiba. Arriving in the early afternoon, wide-eyed and bushy tailed after completing the longest day of bike tour, volunteers kept the ball rolling and led a discussion in the market about Ebola. The scary disease has yet to reach Burkina Faso but as knowledge is power, 5 volunteers talked with 48 people about Ebola, how it is transmitted, what to do if you see signs and how people can prevent transmission. After a successful tour and big thanks going out to the driver Moussa, volunteers  spent the rest of the time in a zombie-like state.
All smiles as volunteers Brittany, Jessica, Christina and Maria reach their final destination.

Thanks Moussa!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bike Tour 2014 Routes

Interested in where we're going? Keep track with this map!

Day SIX of Bike Tour Central North- Kounghin-Sangro!

 Day six of the Central North Bike Tour de Faso 2014 was 27km to Kounghin-Sangro. Maria "Mariam Zu-Noogo" Santamaria is a community health development agent in this village. The route had many forks in the road and after a few wrong turns, lots of sandy hills, a few gold mining villages and many puddles...we found her village!
The women and men of Kounghin-Sangro were so excited to have visitors that the chief organized a welcome party, The women dressed in their traditional fabrics and Mossi head scarfs while doing a welcome dance and song. The chief even invited a flutist from a neighboring village to come and harmonize with the women. Above, Edith Suarez and Maria Zu-Noogo are doing what we have decided to call the "butt bump" and clap dance to show that they appreciate the celebration.

204 community members came to share in the lesson on gender equality and hygiene. Above Kara O'Brien, Maria Santamaria, Edith Suarez and Leanne Demery lead the conversation on healthy living practices.

Leanne and Edith show the village members how easy and cheap it is to make a hand washing station! The village then discussed with the elders of village to choose a location for the station. PCVs and the community decided to put it in near the market, where people frequently eat and drink. 
Leanne and Kara answer questions about gender equality.

After the lessons were done, it was right back to butt-bumping and dancing at the welcome party! The women continued to dance for hours. It was quite the celebration and a true signifier for just how much the Kounghin-Sangro loves their volunteer!!!

At the end of the tour, the Bike Tour riders and hosts said goodbye to Louis as he journeyed back to Ouagadougou! Thank you Louis for all of your extraordinary help and support!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Central North DAY FIVE to Soubeira! Go Bike Tour Go!

The fifth day of the tour was 30km straight into the bush to the village of Soubeira. PCV Bethany "Tene" Hiemenz is a community health development agent in Burkina Faso.
Bethany and her mom Ramney. Peace Corps volunteers used to be in Soubeira 10 years ago and when they were they lived with Ramney. When Bethany arrived in village, she was sure to let her know that she was welcome into their family! The older volunteers still send her post cards and she showed us her many photo albums from their time together.  

Bethany scheduled a malaria lesson with children at the clinic. Here 66 children and women from the village gathered to play games to learn about malaria transmission and prevention. 

Fynn Myllr and Edith Suarez teach Madi a malaria game similar to chutes and ladders. For example, when you sleep under a mosquito net, you get to move up a ladder. If you keep fresh water in your courtyard uncovered, you go down the chutes and get malaria! 

Leanne, Fynn, Edith and Bethany explain to the kids why it is important to sleep under a mosquito net. 

Leanne is teaching the kids about mosquito net usage and how it can prevent malaria by playing a game. The kids all squeeze under the net to show that you can fit almost four people under one mosquito net, and because of the Ministry of Health mosquito net campaigns in Burkina Faso, there is no reason that anyone should not be sleeping under one.

Here the volunteers are teaching the kids a game about the transmission of malaria. Similar to sharks and minnows, the kids have to run from one end of the yard to the other. If you are tagged by a "mosquito" you get malaria and become infectious. 

After playing with the kids, the volunteers made cheese (as a true Minnesota hostess would do) and watched a movie to wind down and prepare for their final day of the tour.

Day four! Here we come SERA!!!! Bike Tour Central North woohoo!

The fourth day of Bike Tour Central North was to Edith "Koam-Poagdba" Suarez's village of Sera. Another hot ride through Kaya to Sera, up all of those hills that we fled down the day before, the volunteers made it to Sera early in the morning. It was the market day there where the volunteers were able to grab some benga for lunch. Benga is a local dish made of black eyed peas and rice, flavored with oil, onions and spicy pepper powder. Edith is a small enterprise development volunteer, so the PCVs decided to teach about soap making as a means to make money. 118 community members came to learn about hygiene, gender, and how to make soap!
Here Edith and her counterpart Mariam explain the importance of washing hands with soap by using USAID images. 

Fynn and Edith start the soap making process and show the community how to combine tansagex, salt water, and regular water with perfume and colorant. 

The women take over the soap making process and excited to learn a new means of business. Good luck Sera!

Here we come GABOU!!!! Day three of the Bike Tour Central North!

After a day of rain, Burkina Faso likes to become a scorching oven, so Day Three was a HOT ride to Nai Oo's village, Gabou. Nai "Mohammad" Oo met the volunteers half way to his village to help the PCVs find their way. 15km to Kaya from Kotoula-Yarse, and then 18km to Gabou. The PCVs stopped in Kaya at an orphanage to stock up on French Toast (thats right) and CELL SERVICE! The ride to Gabou was mostly downhill, and after a few bike break downs, the volunteers arrived.
 Christen Maguire, Leanne Demery, Edith Suarez, Kara O'Brien, Faith Toran and Fynn Myllr can take the heat! Here we come GABOU!
Penny the 5 week old puppy was there waiting to greet us!
Edith and Nai meeting up on the route.

Nai is a small enterprise development volunteer. His community in Gabou organized a chat at the market on family planning. Following the gender and equality discussion, the volunteers went over family planning options and costs at local health care clinics and ideas about why family planning and spacing out births is important. The community members asked about opening a preschool and a clinic in their village, since the closest clinic is 8km away. 90 people from the community came to learn and meet the volunteers.

PCVs Leanne, Kara, Nai and Edith sit and have a question and answer session post family planning lessons. 
Leanne and Kara lead the discussion on gender equality in the local language Moore.

Later that night the volunteers played some games with Nai and his village friends, and ate a delicious stir fry! 
Fynn Myllyr, Penny the puppy and Edith Suarez playing cards.

Goodnight Penny and goodbye GABOU!

DAY TWO of the Central North Tour- Kotoula-Yarse!!!

After a rainy night in Loaga, the PCVs were off to Kotoula-Yarse for the longest bike ride of the tour. 15km to Kongussi, Loaga's regional capitol and then another 52km to Kotoula-Yarse, the village of Christen "Sana Awa" Maguire. Christen is a pre-school teacher and education volunteer in Burkina Faso.
 Faith Toran listened (and danced) to Erica Badou's "Out of my Mind" for her 67km ride.

Leanne Demery had a DJ mix playing.

Kara O'Brien was zooming away to "Girls Just Wana Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper.

And Fynn was enjoying the sounds of the road. 

Luckily, the volunteers stopped in Kongussi for some famous yogurt before continuing on the hilly and muddy ride to Christen's village. 
Fynn sure does love his yogurt! Yum!
Flooding on the road at the Kongussi Lake. 

Louis, our Peace Corps driver and superstar, helps us put the bikes on the car to cross the flood.

Here Faith Toran splashes through one of many puddles on the road!

When the volunteers arrived to Kotoula-Yarse, Christen was there ready to do her discussion with the village on hygiene. Everyone met underneath a covered patio where 63 village members came to learn. The PCVs again shared their knowledge and stories on gender equality. Then, Christen, used USAID hygiene cards to discuss the topics of using a bathroom, washing hands, clean cooking, and proper footwear.
Christen and her counterpart show the photos and ask questions about healthy living.
Leanne and Christen post up the cards for everyone to see!

At the end of the session on hygiene, the community members had many questions. Women explained that they had never thought about sharing courtyard work with the men. Some of the men asked if they could have more lessons on health topics because they had never learned about family planning, or latrines. Overall it was a very successful talk and Christen and Kotoula-Yarse have a lot of work cut out for them! 
After a long day of biking and teaching the volunteers set up camp in the school. Good night Kotoula-Yarse! 

Bike Tour of the Central North! DAY ONE- LOAGA!!!

Calder " ArabaCalder" Bethke was the first host for the Bike Tour de Faso 2014 in the Central North region. Loaga is a mostly Christian village, where Calder works with Catholic Relief Services as an agricultural and small enterprise development volunteer. Being a legendary tree hugger and self proclaimed plant fanatic, ArabaCalder's village was LOUD and PROUD to tell us about his exquisite farming skills, wonderful work ethic, and amazing local language! With his fantastic Moore and glowing smile, it's no wonder everyone in the village was excited to welcome Bike Tour to Loaga. Volunteers arrived to Loaga on August 31st by bus, prepared to do a discussion on hygiene and gender the following day.

Sundays are a big market day in Loaga. They even had games and a raffle! Here volunteers Leanne Demery, Kara O'Brien and Calder "ArabaCalder" Bethke show off their winnings!

 Peace Corps Volunteers and GAD committee members Kara O'Brien and Leanne Demery share a welcome drink and fashion sense in the local Dolo Den.

Men in Loaga are fishing for a fanta. If you hook the ring on the fanta, you get to drink it! 

ArabaCalder's cat, Puma, shares the PCV and Burkinabe enthusiasm for roasted peanuts. 

It was nice to have the opportunity to greet the village and participate in the big market day festivities in Loaga, but as you know, Bike Tour isn't all fun and games! ArabaCalder and his counterpart Jonas, organized a group of men and women to come and listen to our presentation on gender equality and hygiene. The discussion on gender equality focused on keeping young girls in school, equality in the work place, equal opportunities for men and women, shared house work, and supporting and encouraging the women and girls in the community to stay in school and work when they are older to help support the family.

Peace Corps Volunteers Fynn Myllr, Faith Toran, Leanne Demery and ArabaCalder draw out posters to help explain the gender talks. This way, those who cannot read may still follow the discussion and hopefully the posters better translate the ideas about equality.

After the discussion on gender, there was time for questions and answers before moving on to hygiene. Some of the women were interested in how to keep their daughters in school when they get pregnant. We encouraged the families to help the young girls care for their child while they continue their schooling, because pregnancy doesn't mean one must end their education. The men were interested in the idea of helping their wives clean the courtyard and work. Everyone agreed that they would like their daughters to stay in school and work one day.

 ArabaCalder taught his community about hand washing by playing the spicy pepper game. Here he asks a man to touch spicy pepper powder with his hand and then touch his eye. The man refuses. Then he rinses the mans hands with water and asks again. The man again refuses. He then helps the man wash his hands with soap and water, and again asks him to touch his eye. This time he agrees. The spicy pepper is representative of microbes and how using just plain water does not wash all of them off, one must use soap as well. The volunteers also helped to explain why running water is better than sharing a bowl of water to clean your hands with, by acting out a skit. Following a few questions and answers, ArabaCalder then taught his community about the "tippy top" handwashing station. Three pieces of wood, some string, soap and a jug of water and everyone can wash those microbes off! Then all 76 people who attended our lesson helped put in a tippy top at a local restaurant. 

Volunteers and community members help put in the tippy top at the fish and atcheke lady's restaurant so that people can wash their hands before and after they eat.

Thanks for hosting Calder ArabaCalder Bethke! And great work!