Friday, 27 January 2017

Settling In...

This week has been filled with various challenges and excitement for everyone on Team APIL.

Monday started with two key developments:
1.     Sophie showed us a plan of our new roles in the team, where everyone now has a specific area to focus on for the next three months. The various areas include the blog, the video, the case study / interview, and then more specific tasks to the work with APIL such as awareness raising sessions, training, and networking.
    2.     Two APIL staff, Madame Assetta and Madame Lea, came to see us with the action plan that they had devised for us for the next three weeks.

We learnt that our first visit to Bissiga was to be the following days the prospect of a change of scene, and the opportunity to witness some of APIL’s achievements was really exciting.

Tuesday’s trip to Bissiga has to have been the highlight of the week for the whole team. I even found the drive to Bissiga fun. Where we are based, in Ziniaré (both to live and to work) is fairly busy, but as we got closer to Bissiga we left behind the buzz of the big town and travelled through what looked like savannah – it felt like actual Africa. The Bissiga centre, similar to the APIL headquarters, feels very peaceful and inviting, with the greenery being very calming. Two of the trainers gave us a tour of the grounds, where we saw; lemon trees, mangoes, tangerines, guavas, strawberry plants, tomatoes, and the humble potato. The centre also boasts livestock, where Barry experienced love at first sight… with a cow, and the UK half of the team marvelled at how different sheep look in Burkina compared to the UK. The trip served as a hugely inspiring and motivational to the team, giving everyone ideas of potential events and activities for not only the next 3 months, but the entire 15 months of the partnership between ICS and APIL. 

Wednesday had a slight change of pace, it was to be a day of hard work. Our team split into two groups for the creation of two survey’s we are to conduct on behalf of APIL: Agroecological and IMSA. Agroecological’s survey is essentially to be used to get feedback and understand the things that work and don’t work with the training of farmers. The focus Agroecological as a whole is to educate farmers on environmentally friendly, and sustainable techniques and methods. IMSA are more specifically about food security, food production and training farmers in how to increase their yields, productivity, and efficiency. As the working day drew to a close, everyone had achieved a lot, we poured our blood, sweat and tears into our surveys – okay, maybe just the sweat, it is quite hot.

On Thursday, we had a fairly intense meeting with Jean Pascal, Oumar, Achille, and the two ladies at APIL, which left everyone in the team feeling pretty down. The collaboration between APIL and ICS is brand new and so these initial few weeks are likely to be fairly challenging as everyone is attempting to figure out where they fit in, and how they are to function in this partnership. But we can always rely on Barry for a good pep talk: if everything was easy in life and in work there would be no fun or no challenge. It is the challenges that make us stronger, and it is from the challenges that we learn. Together we are stronger!
The motivational speech must have worked, because come Friday morning everyone was raring to go again. Half of the team ventured back to Bissiga to learn how to make enriched compost, and the other half remained in Ziniaré to start brainstorming about marketing – which includes the redesign of the APIL shop and the packaging of the products, and the creation of a new exciting APIL website.

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