This post is to serve as an educational tool for teachers who are viewing the BARKA created video “A DAY IN THE LIFE OF STUDENTS FROM NAMOUNGOU MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOLS, BURKINA FASO“. It is intended to provide additional context necessary for understanding what the video depicts, and to facilitate a series of discussion topics on issues such as poverty, education, water accessibility, childhood, culture, etc.

Comments and Discussion Topics for Namoungou Film

  1. The video begins with a shot of the Burkina Faso flag. Burkinabè (people from Burkina) take great pride in their country and their flag. Burkina Faso literally means Land of the Upright People, as in people who are honest and incorruptible.
  2. The temperature outside is close to 100 degrees F.
  3. Most students ride bikes to school, teachers use motos (like mini motorcycles).
  4. At :32 notice how the teachers are wearing masks, protecting themselves, but the students don’t wear masks (even though BARKA distributed them to this school) and masking is not enforced. Many people in Burkina are unconcerned about COVID because it hasn’t hit in large numbers. This may be because the population is so young (average age under 17) and because it’s so hot year round (COVID passes more easily in cold weather). Many people in Burkina feel COVID is a “western disease”.
  5. Students are biking anywhere from 3 to 10 miles to get to their homes, which they live in by themselves without their parents who are in Namoungou (30 miles away). This school is located on the outskirts of Fada N’Gourma, the main city center of the eastern region. (Fada N’Gourma is easily visible on almost any map of Burkina)
  6. Notice the footwear. Most students just wear flipflops. Some are even barefoot.
  7. The house where the boys live is a single room, concrete structure with a metal roof. The roof will leak in the rainy season- you can see the holes.
  8. Daveni Frederick, the little boy who speaks is the leader of the group, does the cooking, and later is the one to say let’s wash hands before eating.
  9. Clothes are hung on a string which serves as a clothesline. There is no closet and no drawers.
  10. Inside the home it is even hotter than outside, possibly 120F.
  11. The food from last night stays out without any refrigeration. It would not keep past today.
  12. You’ll notice that Daveni Frederick drinks water first. This is because he is the leader. Social structures in Africa are very hierarchical.
  13. The boys wash hands without soap. They should have some soap in the house but maybe only use it for bathing. This could be to conserve the soap, or it could also be because they do not understand the importance of washing their hands with soap. Hands are always washed before eating in Burkina, but most often without soap. Also, maybe they have no soap. The students all complained about not being able to bathe properly. Teachers have complained about the lack of students’ hygiene.
  14. The boys share food from a single bowl and eat with hands. This is common, family style. It’s quite fun to eat with your hands. You’ll see how they make a ball with the food so it is easier to pick it up. There is an art to eating with one’s hands. They only eat with their right hand. The left hand is used for cleaning themselves after going to the bathroom (again often with water alone and no soap, hence the large incidence of diseases such as typhoid and diarrhea due to fecal to oral transmission). The boys are eating benga, a traditional bean dish. It does not seem that they even bothered to heat it up. This is certainly their first meal of the day, even though they woke up at 6 and rode to school by 7. There was no breakfast.
  15. When we see the girls, two of them have cellphones. These are inexpensive phones. One can receive calls for free, but must buy credits to be able to call out. Students also share videos and music with each other by Bluetooth, which is something we can’t even do here in the US yet (it is common in China).
  16. At 6 minutes in to the video, the girls cook in the traditional way, over an open fire, with 3 stones and a cooking pot. The stones are positioned to hold the pot while accommodating sticks that are added below to feed the fire. It is time consuming, and the wood must be paid for or fetched by the girls themselves.
  17. At 6:25, this boy who has no bike and no food actually wears headphones (this is what’s around his neck).
  18. 6:45 The girls go for their daily ride to the pump to fill their own water in the plastic yellow jugs. Imagine having to fetch all the water you use in a day for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing clothes.
  19. A full 5-gallon jug of water weighs 40 pounds. Many women carry this on their heads every day. They attach the water to the back of the bike and ride it effortlessly. It is actually not easy. Since the well is not far from home, one girl pushes the bike as she holds the water in place. Maybe she doesn’t have straps.
  20. 7:33 Kankampoua uses a wooden spoon to cook with. Every Burkina woman has a wooden spoon. In 2014 when there were protests against the dictatorial president who was overthrown, the women came out in the streets holding up their wooden spoons.
  21. There are no adults to be found anywhere in the students’ lives outside of school. They are on their own. Children in Africa are used to taking care of little siblings, helping their mother with cooking, childcare, fetching water, and washing clothes. Children work and take on these tasks as soon as they are old enough to do so. Without such experience and practice, it is unlikely these children would be able to fend for themselves as well as they do.