Friday, April 18, 2014

Week 1: Cohort 8 has arrived at Kabeela and we are excited to get started!

Cohort 8 from left to right: Valentina, Tougma, Louise, Meri and Dominique.
In this blog we hope to share our work, experiences, thoughts and feelings about our time here at Kabeela.

As the new cohort, we thought we would give a little introduction of our team. Firstly we have Valentina, our veteran team leader who knows everything there is to know about Kabeela. Then we have the national volunteers: Louise (also a veteran) and Tougma (a new addition to the IS team but a familiar face at Kabeela). And last but not least, the international volunteers: Meri (a lover of crocheting) and Dominique (a burgeoning master cyclist). So we are 5, in addition to all the wonderful staff at Kabeela.

Burkina Faso has been so welcoming from the moment we step foot in this country. Induction week was a great opportunity to meet the national volunteers, to familiarise ourselves with French and to learn some basic Mooré. As it was our first week, everything was very new and exciting, but we were impatient to start our project in Ziniaré.

In our second week, we familiarised ourselves with the work of past cohorts and were pleased to be continuing the success that they had had. Specifically, Kabeela received a grant from Frederick Gough School for £2000, for which we have now planned the budget. We have also received encouraging news that we will be getting £250 from the Alumni Small Grants Fund to finance the machinery, labels and packaging for making shea butter products.

We have also made a detailed plan of what we will be doing in the next two months. Our main activities will include running a theatre club to raise awareness about Malaria and an income-generating activities club where we will provide training in crocheting, fabric dying and the manufacturing of shea butter cosmetics. In addition, we will be expanding the child sponsorship scheme.

What we really wish to accomplish as an objective is to make these projects sustainable. This involves ensuring that the women will be able to become independent in their income-generating activities and eventually spread their knowledge to others. We will therefore also provide training in enterprise management, marketing, shop and website management.

Being able to contribute to the work at Kabeela is very exciting, although we anticipate some challenges ahead, particularly the fact that we do not (yet) speak Mooré. We are eager to get to know the women we will be working with: Next week will be our first proper week together and we cannot wait!

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