Bye Bye Burkina

26 Jul


Description of Peace Corps Service

24 Jul

Below is an unofficial/draft version of our Description of Service (DOS). Every volunteer has to complete a DOS before they can leave the country. The goal is to sum everything up in about three pages and then the document will go on file in the DC headquarters to serve as the official account of what we’ve accomplished in the BF.

Description of Peace Corps Service

Emma T. Hunter

Burkina Faso 2010-2012

After a competitive application process stressing technical skills, motivation, adaptability, and cross-cultural understanding, Emma T. Hunter was invited into Peace Corps service. She was assigned to the Secondary Education program in the West African nation of Burkina Faso.


Ms. Hunter began her training on June 9, 2010, actively participating in an intensive eleven-week program in Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso, a large city located three hours north of the capital, Ouagadougou. Three weeks into the training, the site was relocated to Koudougou, a regional capital west of Ouagadougou, due to a regional security threat. During the eleven weeks, Ms. Hunter lived with two Burkinabé host families in order to enhance her cultural understanding and to facilitate her successful integration into Burkinabé society through active participation in everyday activities within the surrounding community, local language training, and practical activities to develop technical skills in the area of secondary education.

The contents of the training program included:

  • 64 hours of formal language instruction in French
  • 42 hours of formal language instruction in Mooré (the predominant local language of Burkina Faso)
  • 170 hours of technical instruction in the Burkinabé education system, strategies for classroom management, and sustainable development theory
  • 32 hours of practical classroom instruction
  • 24 hours of training in cross-cultural adaptation and integration strategies
  • 12 hours of training in safety and security, and administrative issues
  • 27 hours of training in personal health care and illness prevention


Secondary Education Volunteer – Primary Activities

Ms. Hunter successfully completed her training and was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer on August 27th, 2010. She was assigned to the city of Koudougou, a large regional capital in the province of Boulkiemdé, roughly 95 km west of Ouagadougou. In her role as an Information and Computer Technologies teacher in the sector of Secondary Education, Ms. Hunter worked as the sole computer literacy teacher at the Provincial High School of Koudougou, a large regional school that serves a student population of over 3,000. During her service with the high school, she repaired, maintained and taught with 9 desktop computers.

Ms. Hunter instructed 254 students in basic computer literacy over her two years of service. She taught a total of 544 hours under the supervision of principals Arzouna Issouf Biyan and Julian Z. Sanou. Ms. Hunter taught for eight months each year from late October to mid-May.

Ms. Hunter designed an academic-year curriculum in computer science using Community Content-Based Instruction (CCBI) principles. The curriculum encompassed: computer hardware basics, mouse and keyboard training, desktop and operating system familiarity, and proficiency in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and internet research and browsing. The curriculum is available for future use by computer literacy teachers at her host school. By using CCBI methods, Ms. Hunter incorporated relevant real-world analogies and problems into lesson plans in order to facilitate her students’ comprehension of abstract course concepts.

Ms. Hunter coordinated the extracurricular instruction of 12 teachers (5 female, 7 male) in computer literacy by a third party (a fellow professor who was previously trained in computer science). The teachers were trained twice a week for 2 hours for a total of 8 weeks.

Ms. Hunter coached 12 teachers (3 female, 9 male) on individual projects including: MSWord use for their memoires and thesis papers, MSPowerpoint for presentations, MSAccess, MSExcel, scholarship possibilities and applications for study in the US and in Europe, and internet use and research methods.

Ms. Hunter conducted several computer literacy trainings in her neighborhood. She trained three high school students, and seven unemployed young men in MSWord proficiency, internet use and research methods.

At the end of every trimester, Ms. Hunter collaborated with her community counterpart to conduct hour-long training sessions with 36 school faculty members in the use of Veneem, a grading software program designed by her counterpart.

Language Skills

Ms. Hunter used French as her working language at school and at her site. Ms. Hunter also learned and used rudimentary Mooré, a language spoken predominantly in central Burkina Faso. At the end of her service, Ms. Hunter tested Advanced High in French (all language levels are in accordance with the Guidelines of the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages).

Safety & Security

In February 2011, civil unrest that began in Koudougou spread throughout Burkina Faso. Civil unrest and security disturbances lasted from February to early June 2011. The security situation deteriorated and unrest spread which resulted in Ms. Hunter’s restricted travel and displacement from her site for a total of seven weeks from February to April 2011. After order was restored in late April 2011, Ms. Hunter returned to Koudougou to continue her service.

Secondary Activities

Computer Classroom Expansion Projects

Ms. Hunter wrote a grant proposal for and subsequently designed and implemented a Peace Corps Partnership Project which successfully solicited US$3,235 in funds used to purchase 15 new desktop computers for the Provincial High School of Koudougou’s computer lab, doubling the machine capacity of the computer lab and enabling the school to train 550 students each year, for a total of 5500 students over 10 years (the expected life span of the computers). The high school contributed US$3,200, or almost 50% of the total funds required for the project, to outfit a new computer lab classroom.

Ms. Hunter also implemented a grant-funded project with the Friends of Burkina Faso Returned Peace Corps Volunteers non-profit association. She wrote a grant proposal detailing the funding necessary for the safe delivery of over 30 desktop and laptop computers and their accompanying hardware to her high school’s computer lab. She coordinated with parties in Burkina Faso and in the United States during the implementation of the project, including former Volunteers, the Ambassador of Burkina Faso to the United States, and the Governor of the center-west region of Burkina Faso.


Ms. Hunter collaborated with other volunteers in her region in liquid soap-making activities for 35 neighborhood women. She explained the liquid soap-making process in French and in Mooré, and gave small samples as incentives to continue producing liquid soap for personal use and for sale.

Ms. Hunter created and gave a presentation on computer maintenance for VAREK, a local non-governmental organization involved with poverty alleviation through agriculture and gardening.

Ms. Hunter maintained a small demonstration vegetable garden plot at her home in Koudougou. She grew several crops: corn, soybeans, millet, peanuts, tomatoes, black-eyed peas, lettuce, spinach, carrots, and radishes.

HIV/AIDS Awareness Murals

Ms. Hunter designed and implemented a mural project for the interior of the Provincial High School of Koudougou. Ms. Hunter organized a drawing competition open to all students at the high school, calling for designs reflecting the themes of HIV/AIDS prevention, family planning, and hygiene.

The seven final designs were judged by the school administration and the winning designs were painted on two interior walls by teams of students, community members and staff.

English Teaching and Tutoring

At the request of Burkinabé English teachers, Ms. Hunter guest-taught four English classes at local high schools. She taught 400+ secondary-level students about the differences and similarities of the American and Burkinabé education systems for a total of 10 hours.

Ms. Hunter facilitated the creation of a University of Koudougou English Club library which received 53 English language books from the nongovernmental organization Darien Book Aid and over 250 English language magazines donated from other Peace Corps Volunteers. She regularly participated in club activities such as an American history and culture film discussion with 12 Peace Corps Volunteers and 30 members of local English clubs as part of the 2011 Peace Corps Burkina Faso Bike Tour, and a theater event with 70 University students. Ms. Hunter also taught a class of 15 final-year hotel management students on American customer service and the American tourism industry to complement their practical English coursework.

Ms. Hunter held weekly English tutoring sessions for five 10th grade students during the 2011-2012 school year. She developed tutoring materials including English-language news articles and fill-in-the-blank word games.

Volunteer Advisory Committee

Ms. Hunter served as her sector’s elected representative to the Peace Corps Burkina Faso Volunteer Advisory Committee (VAC). In June 2011, she was elected President of the Volunteer Advisory Committee, and served as such for one year. In this capacity, Ms. Hunter acted as liaison between her sector and the Peace Corps Burkina Faso administration, advocating for her sector’s needs and resolving programmatic problems as well as relaying important information from the administration to her fellow volunteers. Ms. Hunter facilitated many conversations between senior staff and Volunteers in this role.

Peace Corps Burkina Faso Office

Ms. Hunter worked closely with the Peace Corps Burkina Faso office on many tasks, including: preparation for the incoming 2011 pre-service training group (Training Development and Evaluation and Training of Trainers seminars), development and conception of the new Education project plan (June 2011), translation and formatting of administrative documents (training materials, 2012 Annual Report, etc), serving as a facilitator for three weeks of pre-service training in 2011, and coordination of activities with senior staff.

Ms. Hunter was selected with 20 other Peace Corps Volunteers to represent Peace Corps Burkina Faso in the 50th Anniversary Independence Day Parade in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso during the second week of December 2010.

Ms. Hunter worked with fellow volunteers and office staff over a period of eight months on the planning and execution of Peace Corps’ 50th Anniversary Fair in Ouagadougou. As President of VAC, Ms. Hunter delegated fellow volunteers to leadership positions on a specially-created Fair Committee, oversaw preparations and reviewed budgets for the fair.

Trainings Assisted

Ms. Hunter assisted in the Pre-Service Training of 30 Education Volunteers in 2011 and 25 Education volunteers in 2012. She helped to plan the technical and cross-cultural training program for one week prior to the commencement of the 2011 training and assisted with the trainings for a total of five weeks.

Ms. Hunter, along with two female community counterparts, participated in a training seminar on adult pedagogical techniques in community health, focusing on HIV/AIDS transmission methods and prevention. Her two counterparts went on to train 10+ of their female colleagues in what they learned at the seminar.

End of Service: Ms. Hunter completed her service on July 26, 2012.




Andrew B. Lala

Burkina Faso 2010 – 2012


After a competitive application process stressing technical skills, motivation, adaptability, and cross-cultural understanding, Peace Corps invited Mr. Lala to serve as a Small Enterprise Development Agribusiness Advisor in the West African nation of Burkina Faso.

Pre-Service Training

Mr. Lala actively participated in an intensive nine-week pre-service training on 24 June 2010 in Ouahigouya, a large city located three hours north of the capital, Ouagadougou. One week into the training, the site was relocated to Koudougou, a regional capital west of Ouagadougou, due to a regional security threat. During the training, Mr. Lala lived with a Burkinabé host family to enhance his cultural understanding and to facilitate community integration. The program consisted of language training, technical skills training, and area studies training.


 The contents of the training program included:

  • 95 hours of formal instruction in French
  • 30 hours of formal instruction in Mooré (a local language)
  • 17 hours of area studies (history, economics, and cultural norms of Burkina Faso)
  • 101 hours of training in small enterprise development and agribusiness techniques (methodology and preparation for the Burkinabé system and practices)
  • 27 hours of personal health care and medical training
  • 14 hours of safety, security and administrative training


On 27 August 2010, Mr. Lala completed training and was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. He was assigned to Koudougou, a large regional capital in the province of Boulkiemdé, roughly 95 km west of Ouagadougou.


During his first three months in Koudougou, Mr. Lala successfully carried out a community-wide study and mapped the potential for future projects. The study was comprised of a needs assessment, a community map of available resources, and other information vital to his service, such as seasonal calendars used to determine the appropriate timing of activities.


Mr. Lala’s host organization, VAREK (Valorisation des Ressources en Eau de Koudougou), collaborates with 370 market farmers with a minimum of 50 percent women participation in nine satellite villages totaling 23 hectares of land. Their approach to community development through agriculture includes mobilizing the poorest members to: increase the technical and financial autonomy of market garden farmers, to commercialize their agricultural products, and to restore and maintain water resources such as wells, reservoirs, drip irrigation systems, and irrigation canals.

Working at VAREK headquarters, Mr. Lala regularly partnered with the agro-economist and the operations manager to increase the visibility of VAREK’s interventions, improve work efficiency, and advance their community interventions by shifting the organization from a charity approach to more autonomous and empowering methods.

Mr. Lala helped VAREK create a website and a brochure for use in public relations and commercial opportunities. He also worked with colleagues to unionize six groups of market farmers to encourage fairer sales and distribution, increase market resiliency, and to lessen the group’s dependence on foreign aid and domestic credit. Mr. Lala also procured and coordinated the planting of over 20,000 moringa trees to improve nutrition, increase income and implement agroforestry uses with the help of VAREK community organizers. He also designed and procured materials and expertise for a pilot program to protect the banks of reservoirs through a green belt of 7,500 trees including acacia nilotica, ziziphus mauritiana, and leucaena overseen by a natural resource management committee through decentralization efforts by the government. For a weeklong workshop, Mr. Lala and a colleague identified 23 farmers to produce improved seed stock for the union of 370 farmers. The farmers were provided certified onion and tomato base seed funded by a $1,237 US Embassy Self-Help grant proposal Mr. Lala wrote.

During the 50th Anniversary Fair for Peace Corps in Ouagadougou, Mr. Lala worked with his host organization to prepare members of the union to present and sell their produce and had the opportunity to exchange with the First Lady of Burkina Faso, the US Ambassador to Burkina Faso, and the Country Director of Peace Corps in front of the national television network.

Safety & Security

Beginning in February 2011, civil unrest that began in Koudougou spread throughout Burkina Faso. Civil unrest and security disturbances lasted from February to early June 2011. The security situation deteriorated and unrest spread which resulted in Mr. Lala’s restricted travel and displacement from his site for seven weeks from February to April 2011. After order was restored, Mr. Lala returned to Koudougou to continue his service.

Language Skills

Mr. Lala has achieved an Advanced Mid level in French (Guidelines of the American Counsel for the Teaching of Foreign Languages) during his service and effectively used French to communicate in his work with colleagues and in daily life. In addition, Mr. Lala was also able to learn basic Mooré, which he used in the marketplace, in his satellite villages, while traveling or in communicating simple things with Burkinabé who possessed limited or no French skills. Furthermore, Mr. Lala was selected by Peace Corps staff to deliver a speech in Mooré during his swearing-in ceremony at the US Embassy in front of the First Lady of Burkina Faso, ministers, US Embassy personnel, and peers.


Food Security Committee

In October 2010 Mr. Lala was elected Chairman of the Food Security Committee and served in that capacity until February 2012. It is a Volunteer-driven committee focused on improving food security by acting as an information exchange network, creating resources, advising volunteers on financing projects, and collaborating with relevant non-governmental organizations (NGOs). For one week in December 2010, Mr. Lala and 20 colleagues exchanged with rehabilitating prison inmates and HIV positive women in Bobo-Dioulasso regarding food security and gardening for income generation and improved nutrition. After the training, Mr. Lala was selected to march with 21 other volunteers to represent Peace Corps Burkina Faso in the 50th Anniversary Independence Day Parade in Bobo-Dioulasso. Mr. Lala attended a three-day Compatible Technology International conference in Bolgatanga, Ghana on food transformation techniques. He also prepared presentations about the Food Security Committee’s framework and results for the USAID regional food security conference in Benin in December 2011.


Under his leadership, the Food Security Committee created a website to maintain institutional memory, managed a seed bank for volunteer projects, and operated a booth at the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary Fair, where Mr. Lala lobbied the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso on moringa use. Mr. Lala supervised the disbursement of $53,610 of USAID Water and Sanitation grants to 47 volunteer projects including 87,355 beneficiaries from 2011 – 2012, and was instrumental in the transition into the multi-year West African Food Security Partnership (WAFSP) under USAID’s Feed the Future program. He also assisted in writing the WAFSP USAID grant proposal for the committee, which was awarded $61,194 for the 2012 fiscal year.

Latrine Building

Mr. Lala wrote a USAID Water and Sanitation grant proposal of $2,049 for training two counterparts in latrine masonry and in the construction of 65 latrines. As of 2008, only 11 percent of Burkinabé have access to latrines according to the Health Ministry in conjunction with the Millennium Development Goals. He trained the masons in project management, budgeting, social entrepreneurship, and the importance of hygiene and sanitation. The two masons, with Mr. Lala’s help, successfully identified and mobilized targeted community members and built 65 family latrines in two months, effectively improving the hygiene of 673 direct beneficiaries.


Small Business Consulting

Mr. Lala consulted for 38 direct beneficiaries across 11 small businesses ranging from restaurants to laundry services to improve accounting ability, product and price differentiation, social pricing models, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Mr. Lala also helped to connect Zidisha, a peer-to-peer micro-lending institution, to Koudougou entrepreneurs including a 200-hen egg farmer as well as a SwissContact consultant.


University of Koudougou

Mr. Lala facilitated the creation of a University of Koudougou English Club library, which received 53 English books from the NGO Darien Book Aid and over 250 English magazines donated by other Peace Corps Volunteers. He regularly participated in club activities as a guest speaker for cultural exchanges including an American history and culture film discussion with 12 Peace Corps Volunteers and 30 members from local English clubs as part of the 2011 Peace Corps Burkina Faso Bike Tour and a theatre event with 70 university students. Mr. Lala also exchanged with 15 hotel management students on entrepreneurship and on domestic tourism to compliment their practical English coursework.

Soybean Cultivation and Transformation

In his first year of service, Mr. Lala integrated soy beans as part of a model field showing improved rainy season farming techniques. As part of the Food Security Committee, he planed and created the budget for two, six-day soy transformation trainings for 29 volunteers and community counterparts. Mr. Lala also participated with a community entrepreneur and 15 other participants in a five-day training on soy transformation for a grant-funded gender and development project in Tenado.

Trainings Assisted

Mr. Lala assisted in the Pre-Service Training of 12 DABA Environment volunteers. He attended a one-week training of trainers and led and assisted with technical sessions during his two weeks as a facilitator. Mr. Lala also assisted as a session facilitator and representative of the Food Security Committee during a three-day training of trainers on tree planting for 10 Burkinabé community leaders, a two-day service training for 25 volunteers and their host country national colleagues, and a three-day training of trainers on rainy season crop production for 15 Burkinabé community leaders.


End of Service

Mr. Lala completed his Peace Corps service in Burkina Faso on 26 July 2012.

Last few weeks

23 Jul

What we’ve been up to these last few weeks:

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Andrew at Work

23 Jul

We’re coming back…

18 Jul



New York – July 27th, Wilmington – July 29th, Chicago – Aug 2nd, Boston – mid-August.

Emma at Work

24 Jun

As our time in Burkina draws nearer its close, Andrew and I thought it would be nice to show off some photos of me actually doing my job here. I’ve spent the past two years creating a curriculum filled with relevant examples (computer RAM memory is like your phone’s small memory card, just bigger and more powerful) in order to explain how this crazy thing called a computer works to kids who live without electricity. I had a marvelous time teaching – I really do love that moment of realization when a kid finally understands a concept. Who knows? Maybe teaching will be in my future. For now, enjoy some shots of me with my students.



Me teaching for the very last time – since it was the end of the year, none of my student were in their uniform, but they were all super excited about me letting them go on Facebook finally! Yes, they love Facebook too. After getting an email address, it’s their second internet priority.


This is Casimir, one of my best students. I had taken an earlier photo with him, but as usual in Burkina, he didn’t smile AT ALL. They say it’s because they want to be taken seriously, and not be seen as slackers. I think it’s because they were told by someone to not smile. In any case, I asked him to retake the photo and to “SOURIR” or smile! He laughed and our diligent photographer Ali caught it perfectly. He is receiving his certificate of satisfactory participation at the end of the year. All students who got at least 10 out of 20 as a final grade (it’s equivalent to a C-average) got the certificate, which I designed myself. They were all ecstatic to get them – the days I handed them out were some of my favorite days.



This is our end-of-the-year party/final teacher’s meeting. I was honored by the faculty in a short speech given by one of my colleagues praising my dedication, my character, and my enthusiastic spirit. It moved me almost to tears as I had no idea it was coming, and I made everyone laugh by saying I couldn’t speak because I was too emotional (showing emotion freaks them out, and they usually respond by laughing even when it’s not funny. So it’s become funny for us to make them laugh this way). I am sitting next to one of my favorite teachers who often pokes his head into my class “just to say hi”!


These are my vice principal and principal, Casimir and Julien. They have been so supportive throughout my service, and I truly appreciate that they tried their best to smile in this photo.


Taking inventory

22 Jun

Peace Corps supplies

In planning our last month at site, we are reminded of what essential supplies Peace Corps Burkina Faso has given us to start our service. Every PCV receives a Trek mountain bike (with helmet) and a Park Tools bike repair kit and pump, all of which is required due to the extremely rough terrain and the poor quality/easy to break bikes found locally (thanks China…). Most PCV’s commute involves a mountain bike ride.

We also receive an Outback water filter (made in Boulder, CO I believe) capable of filtering out dysentery-causing microorganisms, sediments, and toxins, a mosquito net, and a cookbook developed by PCVs entitled “Where There is No Microwave.” We also received French dictionaries, conjugation books, first aid manuals, ethnography manuals, and other resources for project design and management. All other resources are available to PCVs at the Information Resource Center at our headquarters in Ouaga or online at or on our Sharepoint.

Our house has to have at least a pit latrine and an outdoor area to take a bucket bath a la 19th century. All of our windows have screens that keep insects, mosquitoes and lizards outside. One of the more recent developments in Peace Corps is getting a “company” phone plan for whatever local phone we purchase that makes it free to call PCVs, and the office and medical staff. We also have a fun medical kit.

The Peace Corps Medical Kit

In addition to having the usual allergy medicines, bandages, Advil/Tylenol, thermometers, and any special prescriptions you would need, I figured I would highlight some of the rather unusual items. First we have Tamiflu, used to treat influenza A and B; there is Coartem, used to treat malaria; and Mefloquine, used to prevent malaria.

There are also two examination kits. One is for the preparation of a malaria slide that can be shipped to labs in Ouagadougou (you prick your finger, take a blood sample, squish it between two slides and put it in that brown container and voila, malaria slide is ready to ship; we had to practice this during training upon arrival). There is also the infamous stool sample kit. Everyone has to do at least 6 as Burkina Faso is one of the worst countries for gastrointestinal infections. I won’t go into the details of the collection process or shipping methods, but will say that it has helped to diagnose me personally with things like amoebas, e. coli, giardia, and other gut parasites.

Needless to say we are very well supplied as Peace Corps Volunteers and have a dedicated support staff of over 50 people in Burkina’s office. Thank you all for paying your $1.23 in taxes each year to pay for all Peace Corps operation costs worldwide for over 7,000 volunteers!

Togo and Benin Vacation

20 Jun

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Preparations for the new computer classroom

1 May

THANK YOU to everyone who donated to the Computer Classroom Expansion Project – it is fully funded, and the high school has already put lots of work into readying the new classroom for the arrival of 15 new computers. We are expecting to have the new labs up and running by the end of May; stay tuned! Thank you again to all of you who helped get this project funded!!! –Emma & Andrew

Stomping out malaria

1 May

As part of an Africa-wide Peace Corps initiative, Emma and I are helping to stop malaria. Emma has incorporated this mosquito-born illness into lessons and Andrew uses his experience with the mosquito control division of Delaware to talk about vector-control, or emptying water from the tires in your courtyard. Check out what some of our colleagues are doing to stomp out malaria:


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