19 June 2010

Is this how other volunteers live ALL THE TIME?! Cont

He says, but that was yesterday. And anyway. It wasn't here, it was in
a village 7km away. I'm irritated. But then, wednesday, there IS
something - African Children's Day, a fête that most regions here
don't recognize, but in our province the NGO PLAN International is
very active in children's education, and they host a celebration. This
year, in my village. Great...except that almost noone knew it was
happening. Rumor has it they donated 1.5 million CFA for the event, of
which about 300,000 was actually spent (none on publicity,
apparently); the rest was skimmed. Even that number seems high
considering what materials were used - two speakers, two tents, and
some milk cans* - but for all that, at least some masks did come back
out for it, so I got some better pictures. Also worth mentioning is
the traditional music they played on those two speakers, which at one
point aired a local stringed instrument playing the unmistakable tones
of "If You're Happy and You Know It."
*Carny games again. Milk can ball toss described previously, though
this one wasn't rigged. Other games: kick a soccer ball through a
tire, grab bags (black sachets, naturally), and walk a wavy line using
a mirror to look at your feet. The kids had fun, I concede that.

I haven't been idle. As I said, these parties interrupted (not a
complaint!) my work. I'm planting my own little field of sorghum and
peanuts, using a soil-preparation technique called "half-moons". I
haven't led any formal classes on it, but seeing the white guy hard at
work is enough to make most passers-by stop and stare, so I take the
opportunity to explain it. So if it works, several farmers will know
how to do it. If it doesn't, well, only the rich white guy wasted his
time and money. Plus this has given me the opportunity to appreciate
just how hard people work here - I'm working a tiny plot, a tenth of a
hectare, and it's exhausting. Mais ça va aller, en tout cas!

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