Recently in FAVL Category
a generous donation from a long-time FAVL supporter.
Regina from the World Bank brought us 4 large cartons
of books to be distributed at our libraries. The books
include children's books about science, animals and
several that are specific to life in Africa. Most of the
books are in English, and will be distributed to the
libraries in Ghana. The kids will be very excited to have
new books! So we would like to send a big FAVL
thank you to Regina!!
While in Pobé for the reading camp, I ran into a student and good friend of mine named Ibrahim. Ibrahim is Twareg and back in 2009 he invited myself, my mother and several RWA students to visit his family. To our pleasure, this year he invited Dounko, Hamidou (Pobé librarian), Francois (FAVL driver) and myself to visit and learn about his family.
Ibrahim lives with his two parents and his ten brothers and sisters in an isolated area about 8 kilometers outside of Pobe. They are herders and own about 25 camels. Despite the fact that one camel can be sold at about 300,000 to 400,000 CFA, they live incredibly simply, in tents. They are nomadic and do not own many material possessions. Upon our arrival we were warmly welcomed and sat on small but comfortable goat-skin cushions inside their tent. They made us tea while we asked questions about their way of life. The family only speaks Tamasheq, so Ibrahim served as our French translator. Later they saddled up one of their camels, and Dounko and myself were brave enough to go for a ride. We milked a camel and drank its deliciously warm and rich milk, in addition to receiving a huge bottle-full for us to take home. By the time we left we were nothing but smiles.
Dounko riding a camel; sipping on some camel milk
Dounko was incredibly affected by the experience. He said that they rarely see camels in his region and when they do, most people are scared of them. This was his first time near a camel and definitely a fist time riding one. With the Twareg family's permission and Ibrahim's help, Dounko plans to make a children's photo book for the FAVL libraries about camels during his next trip to Pobé.
Overall the camp went well. Like all the other FAVL reading camps it focused on improving reading levels in a fun and comfortable environment. There were a few minor problems, including the fact that the camp T-shirts were bright red....the taboo color for those of Pobé, no one is supposed to wear it. Though after much explaining and apologizing to the Mayor and Chief, they understood that it was not done intentionally and all was forgiven. The children were incredibly participatory....at times almost too much even. I often got frustrated with their lack of discipline. Dounko however, whom I can never say too many good things about, was amazing with the students. He reminded me that kids will simply be kids and to not take it personally. By the end, we could see much improvement and all the children (and myself) were sad when the camp was over.
I was also very pleased that throughout the week we received frequent visits from parents and both the Mayor and Prefect, encouraging the students and FAVL staff members. We received much praise from the Chief's wife, who said she hopes that the camps will continue for years and years.
As for the library itself, I know that it is in good hands. Hamidou, the librarian is hardworking and motivated. While there are some minor repairs needed, the building is in good shape. Though, it definitely still needs more books! I was pleasantly surprised to find that the library has a new staff member, a tiny kitten! Hamidou adopted her and she lives in the library. The most popular children's books in the library are the "Aya de Yopougon" comic book series, so we aptly named the kitten Aya de Pobé-Mengao. At less than one month old she has already proven an excellent guardian, protecting the library from evil bugs and small geckos.
My visits with friends in Pobé were wonderful. I was shocked at the reception I received upon my arrival. Everywhere I went people called out my name, running to greet me. People who I thought would have long forgotten me were so happy for my visit, one 80 year old woman literally starting dancing when she saw me. I received gifts of cakes, delicious tô dinners with chicken, and, I'm not exaggerating, about 150 eggs. Leaving Pobé was difficult, but I know I will return for another visit in 2 to 3 years, inch'allah!
Students mastering their ABCs; Running a gender role activty with the children
We're very excited about the grant and are looking forward to publishing more books for our libraries!
This week is full of days dedicated to reading and literacy. September 8th is International Literacy Day. The theme for this year is the link between literacy and peace.
According to the UNESCO website: today one in five adults is still not literate and about two-thirds of
them are women while 67.4 million children are out of school.
So take today and do a little something that could help make a big difference to someone who
doesn't know the joy of cracking open a good book!
Here is a video a literacy class in Ghana last year:
One of the things that is an extremely important addition to a village
library is a light. During the school year, students go to school until late
afternoon and often return home to do chores. The only time they have to study
and read is in the evening. In villages without electricity, if there is a
solar panel, it can charge a battery from which the library can run a light.
These materials are not available at every village library, so those who have
them are very lucky.
On August 21, the village library of Karaba received a generous donation
from the husband of the librarian. The battery that charges the light in the
library was broken, and he decided to replace it.
The donation was made because he feels strongly that the library is an
important establishment in his village. He is the president of a union of
farmers in the province of Tuy, where Karaba is located. Before having this
position, he was the secretary in an office. He saw the importance of the
ability to read and write, and became a supporter of the library in Karaba. He
wanted to give the library the battery because he knows that the light aids
students who seek to read and/or study at the library in the evenings. With the
battery, the library will now be able to be available to students and other
readers to take advantage of their evening free time.
Pendant cette période de juillet 2011, j'ai organisé un jeu de Scrabble. Le dimanche 24 juillet j'ai fait un concours de jeu de Scrabble avec les élèves de secondaire. J'ai choisi d'organiser ce jeu de concours pour motiver les élèves à s'intéresser d'avantage au Scrabble parce que c'est un jeu d'instruction. J'ai remarqué que pendant le jeu de Scrabble, les élèves consultent beaucoup le dictionnaire ce qui est très important. Après avoir ce jeu de Scrabble aux élèves qui fréquentent la bibliothèque, j'ai décidé d'organiser ce concours. J'ai fait ce jeu de concours avec les élèves du secondaire qui sont arrivés premièrement. Ensemble nous avons fait un règlement que les Scrabbleurs doivent respecter (donner le sens des mots choisis, nombre de minutes, etc.). Comme nous avons quelques dictionnaires, chaque Scrabbleur avait un dictionnaire pour vérifier les mots proposés. A la fin du jeu, j'ai récompensé élèves selon le nombre de points gagnés. Le prix est monté à 2000 FCFA pour deux groupes de Scrabbleurs. Je crois que le Scrabble est un jeu très important pour les élèves parce que c'est un jeu d'instruction.
During the period of July 2011, I organized a game of Scrabble. On Sunday, July 24, I held a Scrabble contest for secondary school students. I chose to organize the contest to interest the students in the advantages of Scrabble because it is an instructive game. I saw that during the game, the students looked up a lot of words in the dictionary, which is very important. After this game of Scrabble, I decided to have a contest with the students who arrived first. Together, we decided on rules that the players would have to respect (giving the definitions of words, having a time limit, etc.). Since we have some dictionaries, each player had a dictionary to verify the proposed words. At the end of the game, I compensated the students according the number of points each had. The price got up to 2000 FCFA for two groups of players. I believe that Scrabble is a very important game because it is a game of instruction.
I don't get the chance to read in French as much as I'd like, mostly because books are expensive in Burkina. However, while I was at reading camp, I decided to take advantage of all the books surrounding me and read a few of them. I found such treasures as translations of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (a personal favorite), Nancy Drew by Caroline Keene (who is known as Alice Roy in the French version) and Le Robot Qui Vivait Sa Vie (The Robot who Lived His Life) by Phillippe Ébly. I also read a book by a Burkinabè author, Susy Nikiéma, entitled L'homme à la Bagnole Rouge (The Man with the Red Car).
The book was published when Ms. Nikiéma was only 18 years old. It is the story of a high-school aged girl who lives with her grandparents, as her mother passed away and her father abandoned her when she was young. She begins spending a lot of time with an older man who drives a red car and is fairly well-off. At first she is suspicious of his intentions, but soon she learns that he truly only seeks her friendship. Eventually, he asks if he can adopt her because he has terminal cancer and he wants to share all he has with her. She struggles with the decision because she does not want to desert her grandparents. As she is about to make her decision, however, the man mysteriously dies. The girl receives a letter a few days later that the man sent before his death. In the letter, he explains that he is her biological father, and he abandoned her all those years before to live a better life in Côte d'Ivoire. He had returned to spend time with his daughter before his death. Eventually, we learn that the man was poisoned for his money, all of which he had already willed to his daughter. After proving her heritage, the girl is able to get the money left to her. L'homme à la Bagnole Rouge is an interesting read, not least because it discusses a lot of important realities of being a female high school student in Burkina. It is dramatic and suspenseful, and I would recommend it to anyone who would like to read French and learn a little bit more about life here.
Krystle Austin writes :The reading camp in Karaba took place from August 16 to August 21, and the reading camp of Koumbia took place from August 22 to August 27. A Peace Corps volunteer, Sara, participated in both camps and writes about her experiences during the two weeks:
I arrived in Karaba on Monday, 16 August 2011. The morning the camp began, we met the animators and the library assistants. The animator and the teacher were both fantastic. The animator had a lot of fun, adding humor to more difficult or awkward subjects to make the kids feel comfortable. He also played the drum and got really into the singing and dancing warm-ups each morning. We learned that the kids participating in the camp were chosen by lottery from the CM1 class. Therefore, there was a mixture of stronger students and weaker readers. Most of the kids enthusiastically participated in the camp activities. The most successful sessions were the games, songs/dance, free reading, and discussions regarding malaria. Additionally, the kids really enjoyed the arts/crafts sessions and I feel that they should be encouraged to be more creative. Altogether, the camp had a great balance of instruction and play/free/game time.
My experience in Koumbia was similar to my experience in Karaba. The librarian was more involved in the activities and sessions as she conducted or assisted with leading three to four sessions. The kids at this camp were more enthusiastic and I think they were a bit older also. The selection process of the camp was different; instead of a lottery, the kids had volunteered to participate in the camp. Also, the girls outnumbered the boys - 16 girls to 9 boys. Maybe because the kids had volunteered for the camp, they were motivated and ready for activities from the very first day. The girls did not hesitate to participate in discussions and instruction, and in fact, you could feel their presence more than that of the boys. Their energy and their willingness to participate helped to make the camp successful.
In summation, the camps were hugely beneficial for the PCVs. I learned a lot and I felt as though I was a part of a camp that really did help the students and possibly make a difference. The size of the participants and the number of instructors available was perfect. I think that PCVs should continue to help with the camps as the participating kids benefit from the additional personal instruction time. However, at the same time, care should be taken regarding the Volunteers' participation in the sessions and the role of the PCV should be more clearly defined for everyone involved.