Camp HEERE and the Bus of Doom

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I just got back from Camp HEERE in the Sourou Valley. 15 volunteers from the Sourou valley put on a camp for CM1-CM2 boys and girls (5th and 6th graders)

Camp HEERE is an acronym for

H = Hygiene, E = Environment, E= Education, R = Recreation, E = Ensemble (Together in French)

For hygiene the students learned about first aid, washing hands, malaria treatment and prevention, brushing teeth. They applied that knowledge by making liquid soap and neem cream.

For the environment component, the students learned about local trees, started a tree nursery (pepinere,) planted trees and got two moringa saplings to take home to put in their courtyard

Education concered all the lessons, including goal setting and future planning

Recreation included lots of games. The kids especially loved tug of war, Alaska tag and the scavenger hunt. Burkinabe kids get super competitive when it comes to American style games. My friend Beth (Another Music Ed teacher) and I helped teach the kids camp songs, and we even had our own dance party with a DJ.

It was amazing to see firsthand how the camp experience can be effective in Burkina Faso. During our training we attended only 2 days of Camp G2LOW, so we did not get to see everything from start to finish. Ideally I want to take some of the elements from this camp and do a mini-camp right before school starts to get the students excited and ready for school. The entire Camp HEERE team did a great job, and i’m so happy that I could come out and work the camp.

Again, if you want to be a Peace Corps Volunteer, I believe the best preparation is to be an overnight camp counselor. Case in point: I was sleeping in the Girls dorm one night at 2:30AM when one of the girls woke me up. I asked her what was wrong, and she said “Pisser” (which means to pee in French (pejorative)) I was like, oh $@#! did she wet her bed. No, everything was fine, she was just too scared to go to the latrine by herself. This was the third night there, so I was a little surprised that she asked me, but i went back to sleep and got up at 5am the next day.

One of our biggest challenges was the lack of water and electricity. We were constantly filling our water jugs. We needed enough to cook, for the kids and counselors to wash their hands, shower water, and drinking water. If you thought Interlochen Arts Camp was rustic without AC, we didn’t have AC, internet, electricity, running water, toilets, or cars at our disposal, and we pulled off a great camp!

So the bus of doom…Many BF PCVs reading this are familiar with one particular transport company that drives its buses very fast. We call it the “Death Rocket.” For the purposes of this post I will call it the LAME bus. It’s great if you are going on paved roads…but if you’re not… you have just entered…THE BUS OF DOOM.

In order to get to the Sourou valley from my site, you have to get to Ouahigouya which is easy, and then you get on the LAME bus from Ouahigouya to Sourou. The road is not paved and it is awful. The bus is always full. (Full in this context means that there are no seats, and people are standing on the stairs in the doors, and sitting on sacks of onions). LAME always takes their worst buses (ones most likely to fall apart) so the ride is awful (lack of suspension/shocks etc), and there is of course no AC.

Getting to the Sourou valley was relatively uneventful. We only broke down three times before we got there.

Getting back to Ouahigouya was another matter. We arrived in Tougan (halfway between the Sourou valley and Ouahigouya) and we could not back up into the station. We had to sit in an alleyway for four hours until the bus got fixed. Luckily we could get off the bus, but it took forever for them to fix it. It was also still hot season. On the way back to Ouahigouya we stopped in every single village between Tougan and Ouahigouya. I got back late and missed the bush taxis to my site. (They stop running at 3pm).So I ended up spending the night in Ouahigouya…no worries.

Oh the joys of public transport!

On a camp-related note, I will be working the PC Burkina Science Camp in Koudougou this September. Please donate to this worthy cause to give 4e students (the equivalent of 9th grade) the chance to see science up close in a Burkinabe context!

Click on the picture of Beakman to help raise money for PC Burkina Science Camp!

One response to “Camp HEERE and the Bus of Doom

  1. linda marcuccilli

    lol, sara! the bus of doom! that is soo funny! you look great! keep up the good work!
    linda marcuccilli

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