Monday, October 14, 2013

Induction Week

Week 1- The Inclusive Sports Education (ISE) Team assimilate the culture and customs of Burkina Faso!!


“I am a passenger and I ride and I ride”

Passenger - Iggy Pop


On Monday 23rd September I and 20 other volunteers left behind the comforting security of the known surroundings of Gatwick Airport to board our first of two flights to Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou (it is pronounced waga-do-goo if you were wondering). It was a place as yet unknown to each of us and we were eager and excited to discover this little known country in West Africa and to get started with our group development projects.

            It took us just over 12 hours to travel to Ouagadougou Central Airport and as we stepped outside leaving the cool airport building behind us we were greeted by two things simultaneously. The first was our welcome party of International Service volunteers and staff that clambered amongst us and our mountains of luggage to shake our hands and register us and the second was the sticky humid atmosphere of a Ouaga evening as it is just emerging from the rainy season. Tired and elated we climbed into our respective vehicles and I remember sitting in the cramped car with my team and being utterly transfixed by my ‘strange’ surroundings. I was just musing on how far we had all travelled to get here when (and I kid you not) what should be playing on the radio but Susan Boyle’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream”! None of us could quite believe what we were hearing and thus began our discovery of a country where nothing is quite what you would expect and as each day passes we continue to be taken by surprise.

            After an interesting introduction to the Burkinabe streets we entered our home for the next three months and sought our beds for a much needed night’s sleep. Our first week passed in a haze, we were thrown into a programme of intense country induction, each day we met as a large group with the national volunteers and team leaders to be taken through; the finer details of our projects, notes on the culture and customs and we were encouraged to speak like the locals as we undertook language lessons in French and Moorѐ (a local language). We also embarked on a series of visits to the project partners including HSB, Djigui Espoire and Kabeela where we were all made to feel very welcome and accepted as we shared in the news of their progress and ate food and drink. To complete the week, we the ‘Inclusive Sport Education Team’ was asked to attend the National Paralympic Championships and assist throughout the day keeping a written and photographic record of the event. It was a fantastic finale to our first week in Burkina and when the internet starts working with some regularity we might even spoil you with some pictures!
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