Monthly Archives: September 2010

Photos: Week One

A few photos from the first week in Ouagadougou.

The hotel in Ouagadougou - Le Village Nong Taaba



Resturant & dining area

Barbed wire Burkina Faso style (this was on the walls around the hotel)

The new volunteers - Bertrand, Sabrina, Thales, Laure, Isabelle, Arnel, Togba, Leo, Marco, Benoit & moi

Breakfast time on the last day in Ouaga (Benoit, Marco, Leo, Leo's minder for the week, Sabrina, Thales, Laure, Isabel & Arnel)

The street in front of the hotel & VSO Office



Since leaving Montreal a month ago I have found myself with a little more spare time to devote to reading. Along with a couple of guide books on Paris & Burkina Faso I have been able to finish the following somewhat random/eclectic collection of books:

  1. Charles Dickens’s Bleak house – his 9th novel following the long running Jamdyce and Jamdyce litigation and its trials and misfortunes at the Court of Chancery.
  2. Sinclair Lewis’s 1920s satire of American culture, Babbitt .
  3. My first Marian Keys novel, The Other Side of the Story, as I was curious to see what her novels and writing style was like.
  4. After having read Mysterious Islands and Around the World in 80 Days earlier this year I devoured another Jules Verne’s classic tale – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  5. And last but by no means least, Oryx and Crake by Margret Atwood.  After having recently read my first Atwood novel, The Handmaids Tale, I was intrigued to read another.

I have just started Three Cups of Tea which appears, so far, to be a captivating read about:

“One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time”

p.s. If anyone has any reading recommendations please let me know as I am sure I will have time to finish a few more books over the coming months.

Next stop Burkina Faso

With our two fabulous weeks in Paris unfortunately coming to an end on Thursday 2nd September  it was time to make our way to Burkina Faso!

After a couple of minor hiccups (broken luggage and incorrect visa entry dates) we successfully made it to the airport & checked in for our flight to Ouagadougou. At the departure lounge we had the pleasant surprise of encountering five other CUSO-VSO volunteers and a CUSO-VSO program advisor that were all heading for the same place as us.

The flight went quickly and before we knew it we had arrived in West Africa. The airport at Ouagadougou was small and hectic and we were thankfully quickly spotted and greeted by VSO Burkina Faso staff. They dropped us off at the hotel, Le village Nong Taaba where a three course meal awaited us. Then tired we all made our way to our rooms for our first night in Africa.

The majority of our first week and a half was to be spent in the capital, Ouagadougou, for training. As well as receiving information on health, culture and our work assignments the training also included an orientation weekend. This consisted of new volunteers spending the weekend with one of the established volunteers in the cities where they would reside. For us, unlike the other new volunteers, this meant leaving the capital and taking a five-hour bus trip to Bobo-Dioulasso. We were fortunate to be able to stay with Eve & Simon and their children just before they departed for their vacation in Benin. During the weekend we got to see a bit of the city, our new house, meet the other volunteers in Bobo, Helen , Gabriel & Nathalie and learn a little about the ins and outs of living and working in Bobo.

After returning from Bobo training resumed. We also went and registered with the Canadian Embassy (unsurprisingly there is no NZ embassy in Burkina so am now a pseudo-Canadian). Another part of the training consisted of a number of hours of Dioula language training (the local language used in Bobo-Dioulasso as well as in parts of surrounding countries Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Ghana).

On Sunday 12th September it was time to say goodbye to our fellow volunteers in Ouagadougou as Sabrina, Benoit and myself make our way back to Bobo-Dioulasso.