13 March 2010

No more funny subject lines

I figured out the solution to that little problem. Which is not to say
I won't still throw in crazy subject lines in emails, actually. I just
no longer have as good of an excuse.

The 8th of March is International Woman's Day. Last year my village
did nothing special that day except close school - no surprise, that's
generally how things work on any non-religious holiday outside of the
cities. So last weekend I went to my provincial capital (see next
section). Monday morning, as I'm waiting for transport back to site,
people start telling me that I'm missing the party there! Apparently
our provincial celebration was being held in my village this year.
Now, this must have taken MONTHS of planning - there were women's
groups from all over, representatives from the UN office in Ouaga,
chiefs of all the villages, the freakin' Minister of Agriculture, they
even made tshirts with my village's name...and through all of that
planning, it never occured to one single person that hey, maybe this
is something our Peace Corps volunteer might like to know about!
I didn't end up missing that much, but if I'd had some warning I'd
have done something to participate. As it was, the only contribution I
made was during lunch, when I made it a point to take over the serving
job from the women, who had naturally assumed that role because that's
how things are done here. Which speaks much louder than imported
orators as to how seriously people take women's empowerment here.

Other than grocery shopping and relaxing with friends who happen to
have things like ice and fans, I got to help said friends experiment
with a project they've set up to make charcoal from millet stalks. I
don't know if I've ever said it directly here, but you've probably
picked up on the fact that the theme of my service, outside of
teaching, has been fighting desertification. This charcoal project is
a cheap, clever way to discourage tree-cutting. Lesson one - wear old

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