Saturday, October 29, 2005

Meine Einführung

I flew to Montreal and met the Canadians from my group and we stayed at orientation camp at Lac Castor for a week doing "cultural awareness" activities and such, preparing us for when the Africans would arrive. Finally we met our entire group:

Canadians: Grégoire, Maxim, Tyler), Leslie, Emily and I
Malians: Bassa, Mariam, Oumou, Karim, Aziz and Daouda
Burkinabés: Thérese, Kaniyeré, Fatouma, Tyaho and Inoussa

Then we were split into pairs, and posted with our host families and work placements. I was grouped with Thérese, a 19-year old girl from the tiny village Kiembara in Burkina Faso. Needless to say communication was pretty tough at the beginning, considering I hadn't spoken French in a couple years. We met what we thought was our host family (2 adults and 2 kids), only to go home and discover another four kids running around the farm. The family had immigrated from Switzerland to Quebec 8 years earlier, and bought a rundown farm and turned it into something pretty amazing for a staff of 6 kids.

The Neff family:
Martin- Dad
Iris -Mom (One of the warmest, roundest, happiest women I've ever met)
Sarah- 7
Samuel- 6

Including Thérese and I, that house was packed. We stayed in the attic and woke every morning at 5:00 am to milk their eighty cows and would usually spend the rest of the day chopping wood, gardening, renovating the barn, or if it was harvest season, doing just that.

The family was amazing though, the parents couldn't really speak French, and absolutely no English, so communicating with them proved a little difficult too, having someone teach you how to run farm equipment in broken French and German is always a challenging thing. Anyway we worked our 14 hour days until it was time to go to Thérese's country Burkina.

The whole group stayed in the capital city of Ouagadougou for a couple days of orientation and I have never been so uncomfortable in my whole life, it was so intensely hot. We finally got to the village of Yako, where Thérese and I met our new host family, mother, 3 sisters, 1 baby boy and 2 grandmas. I worked at the elementary school helping teach English and French. On weekends we'd do presentations on globalization, aids awareness, family planning and desertification. It was an awesome experience that I don't think I truly appreciated at the time through my bouts of homesickness, culture shock and malaria, but now realize it was one of the most important and hardest things I've ever done.

Ferme Maris, St. Anselme Quebec

The Swiss German Dairy farm

Silo says: Iris and Martin Neff Swiss-Québec

My counterpart Therese and I

Sarah and Rex das Schveiss Hound!



Milking cows with Iris and Rebbeka.

Swiss Family Portrait.

Iris with her Zopf bread.

Therese and I making jam.

Yako, Burkina Faso

Tyler, Leslie and I en route to our village Yako in Burkina Faso.

Preparing peanut butter...massive, massive amounts of it.

Group doing presentation of local commerce

Stereo-typical African photo

Me taking part in a stereo-typical African photo

More Yako

Bassa hard at work giving me braids

Canadians displaying a prime example of daily ass-sweat

My host sister, Eliane, all gussied up and inexplicably holding a knife

Cooking, Burkinabé-style!

Even more Yako

This is the school where I helped teach English and French

This is the third grade class of 99 kids

Max (aka Jesus) and I cruising

My toilet and/or shower. I had to put this photo in...I'm sorry

Tyaho making tea

Chillin with Eliane

Fatouma and Oumou at Tylers house

Max, Eliane and Gregoire at the going away party

My baby host brother, Solomon

This was my home sweet home for my stay in Yako, Burkina Faso. It housed 6 people in 2 rooms, including the kitchen and living room.


Nassaras doing a tour of local villages


Awesome Leslie and I


Me, Emily and Tyler, safari-glam.