Reuniting with Lampiadi and Tantiaka, 2/27/2014
Broken down on the road from Yamba to Fada, there is an opportunity to describe to you an otherwise entirely successful day. Today Ina and I, together with the BARKA team reunited with two villages—Lampiadi and Tantiaka—for the first time since last July. Our team has been working in these villages straight through, however we were in the US during that time.
The person who works most closely with the village, who speaks the difficult local language of Gulimanchema, and who mobilizes villagers in the areas of self-governance, hygiene awareness, sustainability issues (such as how to maintain and sustain a well and latrines), and basically puts all pieces of the Water and Sanitation (WASH) puzzle together, is the “animator” or animateur as they’re known in Burkina. BARKA’s animator in Lampiadi is Yoni. Our animator in Tantiaka is Tantie. Today, we witnessed the incredible work they’ve done with the villages over the past 6 months.
First stop was Lampiadi. The women of the village greeted us with song and dance. They said they would like to receive the well tomorrow and would do anything they could to help the process. The water committee thought the rope pump was a great idea and agreed to reflect on where it could be installed to benefit the most people.
The teacher and principal were totally supportive of the WASH program and agreed to review the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) questionnaires. We met the President of the parent’s association, and he agreed to mobilize the parents to support the girls through raising their awareness of the taboo subject of menstruation. Two mothers will be assigned to the MHM program at the school. We left by visiting the future well site (site #1 and #2) and poured water on the ground at each site in gratitude of the blessing of the water which will come from the earth to nourish this village.
A LITTLE HEALTHY COMPETITION
By the time we reached Tantiaka it was past 1pm, at the heat of the day (temperature 104 F). Tantie, Tantiaka’s animator, had told villagers how motivated the village of Lampiadi was, and that this village was far surpassing them. That woke the village up like nothing we’ve ever seen. When we arrived in Tantiaka, far later than we expected to, scores of women in their finest outfits swarmed both vehicles carrying our party and encircled us in song followed by dance. They marched us a little way to the meeting destination (always under a large shady tree) and even stopped to get Ina and I in the middle of the pack (we had begun dragging behind as we juggled cameras and backpacks, etc.) Once we arrived at the meeting location, we were amazed to find 200-300 people, live music, vigorous dancing by both men and women… it was as fitting a homecoming as we could ever have imagined. Tantiaka is after all, our home village in Burkina.
The celebration went on for sometime, before we got down to business working through our agenda. We learned that villagers have been working together (something that was not easily forthcoming several months ago) to create a large community garden in which each family has their own small plot of land. The garden was surrounded by fencing to keep animals out. The well is being used by so many people that they couldn’t give us a number! A nearby well broke and this well has been serving the water needs of several communities. As the flow rate of this well is exceptional, there have been no issues with ground water re-charge rates or fear of running the well dry. The latrines are being used on a regular basis by everyone within close proximity and villagers have noticed a definite decrease in the incidence of diarrhea in their children. They even said their food tasted better and was more sustaining with the use of clean water.
All in all, this was a vision of a community completely transformed by this project, the talented animator, and all the donors like you who made it possible. Villagers pointed to some new paths of collaboration to consider: the school has no housing for its teacher, there is a particular need for watering cans and irrigation for equipment, and the village is interested in a literacy program in the local language. This is possible to achieve with the support of the village and individual donations. To donate to help Tantiaka achieve these goals, please visit http://barkafoundation.org/donate.