A Village Stay in Burkina Faso

While I've been busy at work in Ouagadougou, capturing many of the interviews I conducted with beneficiaries of the Agricultural Development Project of the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact with Burkina Faso, and writing reports from my field visits (more on this soon), I wanted to share with you all some photos from a recent visit to a village in western Burkina Faso. Last weekend, I had the good fortune of accompanying a co-worker to his village near Doudou, where he served during his time as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Doudou is approx. 150 km from Ouagadougou, near Koudougou, the third largest city in Burkina Faso (after Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dialosso). ("Dougou", I recently learned, means "ville" or town).

While we only stayed a night, it felt like a long weekend, filled with special moments: sharing a meal with former counterparts, visiting different homes to pay our respects, inspecting a newly installed water pump, sleeping under the stars, and strolling through the market in Doudou on Sunday.

Sharing an incredible feast with my co-worker's former counterpart, Moises 

Visiting the local market in Doudou on Sunday (Photo credit: Chris) 

The local language, Lyele, was as enjoyable to learn as Wolof, and while I only was able to pick up a few phrases, I know fellow Star Wars fans would have been absolutely enchanted.

Me: "Aja?"

Woman in Market: "Jawane!"

Literally, this means, "Do you have the force?" and the response, "Yes, I have the force!"

Many come to the market on Sundays after church (usually a 3-4 hour service), and sit under the wooden stalls for some shade, drinking dolo, the local brew made from fermented millet, and catching up on the local gossip. The dominant ethnic group in the area is Gurunsi, of which most are Christian.

One of the best parts of our stay was our lodging. Traditional style homes are large adobe constructions that have a small wall around them. They can typically hold at least a dozen people, usually more. This particular encampement, is one of four in Burkina Faso, and is a community-organized and supported endeavor. Profits go towards local projects, such as a local primary school, an adult education center, and family planning classes for women. The manager of the compound also had a strong agro-ecological philosophy, detailing why many in the area were committed to organic compost and avoided using chemicals, as the community had already experienced the negative health side effects agrochemicals could cause if not properly applied.

Due to the heat, we placed our beds outside and it was a smart decision. The stars at night were absolutely incredible.

All in all, it was an incredibly enjoyable weekend, and a nice break from the bustle of Ouaga.

A few more photos from our village stay: