Friday, 3 February 2017

Bring The Apprentice To Burkina Faso

The Agro v IMSA rivalry continued this week (without any actual rivalry because we are a lovely, harmonious team). Lots of progress has been made this week in terms of the surveys, the awareness raising sessions, and our positively thrilling marketing competition. AND very excitingly we finally got to move in to our new official office on Friday morning, where we have full reign over the position of the tables and the ample wall space for our gorgeous (/weird) posters. 

One noteworthy theme of this week has been debate and open discussion. ICS encourages cultural exchange constantly, and this week Sonia and Salifu facilitated a really interesting open discussion on one of the chapters from the Active Citizenship Pack. The key question we were given was about the challenges of living and working in a multicultural/different cultural setting. Everyone seemed to agree that it comes as a continuous surprise just how different cultures can be. Facial and spoken expressions, body language, gestures and greetings are completely intrinsic to every culture, which is a big concept to get your head around. However, Mary said she was also clearly sees the similarities in the cultures – people are people, and ultimately most people get up in the morning and go to work or school, they eat, they sleep etc. So despite these huge (but fascinating) cultural differences the very basic way that life functions remains the same.

For our awareness raising sessions Agro started the planning for some ‘Reforestation’ sessions, and IMSA got the slightly more complex task of the ‘Gender’ sessions. Debate was quite, and continues to be quite a prominent theme in the creation of these awareness raising sessions. Another challenge in planning these sessions is the lack of information that we have. We are the first APIL-ICS cohort, and so have nothing to go off from past events that cohorts have hosted. Factors like location, target audience, structure, and ways of advertising the event are central to the smooth running of the session. To serve as some inspiration APIL headed to Kabeela on Saturday 29th to attend their first awareness raising session, on ‘Malnutrition’. On Monday morning, the Kabeela even was analysed in minute detail, where we decided on several positives from their session to use (/steal):
·      Attracting people to the event with free food and water.
·      Hiring a speaker, who used props and pictures to keep the attention on the content.
·      Keeping the content very simple so as not to overcomplicate the key information.
·      Having music and some entertainment to keep the atmosphere light-hearted (despite the severity of the issues being discussed).

Tuesday was another inspiring day with Salifu and Khader being given the opportunity to sit in on one of the most significant parts of what APIL does: training farmers. Although apparently the majority of the day was looking at the technicalities of the ever so versatile onion, both Salifu and Khader found the day really interesting and helpful in terms of thinking about our own training and awareness raising. One thing they communicated back to the team was how the session did not feel like school one bit, although there was a ‘teacher’ everyone was encouraged to help and to learn from each other.

This week IMSA completed and conducted their surveys, which was a huge achievement. The language barrier was the most challenging aspect of completing this activity, each person was interviewed individually as many of the beneficiaries/farmers are illiterate, and only speak Mooré (not French), whereas only less than half of our APIL team speak it too. Regardless of this difficulty everyone found the experience extremely rewarding, as getting to hear direct feedback of the charity we are working with was really interesting.

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