Camp Heere 2013, the Pen Reader, and the Quest!

So I just got back from Camp Heere 2013 at my friend Beth‘s site. Camp Heere focused on the Enivronment (including environmental dangers, reforestation, tree identification, and habitat protection) Health (hygiene, malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention, and nutrition) we also did some future planning, gender, and action planning sessions. I helped facilitate various sessions including nutrition, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and helping lead songs and games. We had 64 kids from 13 different villages in the Sourou river valley in Burkina Faso.

Some highlights included:

Malaria Jeopardy!

Image-An epic battle between Moringa Man and Woman versus Madame Mauvaise


A Burkinabé drag queen (8 mars) leading a session on gender and equality


How to use a male condom: the wrong way and the right way


One of the highlights of this trip out to the Sourou valley was a visit to a “Pen Reader” or (Tourabou in Arabic) in the village of Guiedougou. I was led into a room where I sat down with my friend Molly’s homologue Abdoulaye who translated from Jula/Arabic into French. I was old to hold the pen (a regular looking blue pen) and think of my questions in any language that i pleased. I thought about it and asked about my future and my love life. The pen reader Seydou said that my future is good, I will have health and good fortune. That I am going to have a good job. I’m waiting for something to happen but things are not yet in order and that is what’s bothering me and there is something preventing it from happening. To get rid of this impasse i must get a white rooster and 6 white kola nuts and give them to the men who do the calls to prayer at the mosque (muezzins) as a ritual sacrifice.

He went on to say that I will indeed get married but things would become complicated. In order to make the marriage less complicated I need to get a black chicken and give it to a male forgeron (the people who work with metal and also make canaries (earthen jugs).

I then asked about my relationship with my village and how best to end things on a positive note. I said I was concerned about leaving and how the village would take it. He said that the villagers will speak highly of me and I will be part of the village’s history. In order to make sure this will come true, I was told that I need to find yellow corn and 12 white kola nuts BEFORE I left Guiedougou and went back to my village.

This turned out to be quite a quest! I had to find 12 white kola nuts (they are generally red and hard to find) and yellow corn (also not easy to find) that very night. Abdoulaye took me to a local boutique to find the kola nuts and then we went back to his house to get the yellow corn. I paid for both the corn and the nuts and we went back to the pen reader’s house to give the sacrifice to his father, the chief Marabout of the village, Salif. I presented the sacrifices and he blessed me in Jula and Arabic.

I lucked out. One of my friends who went with me has to find 3 chickens, a rooster, a goat head and hooves to make his fortune come true.
It’s always good to be in the Sourou valley, visit good friends, and work at a fantastic camp. Kudos Team HEERE! We did it!


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