Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Illinois students visit village and library of Béréba in Burkina Faso

Prof. Richard Akresh forwards to us what one student, Austin Leefers, wrote about the trip:
Bereba was a fascinating environment for our group of students from the University of Illinois to visit. We were extremely fortunate to be able to spend three days and two nights with the welcoming people of Bereba. Despite our short visit, the villagers welcomed us with open arms arranging a village tour, a mask dance, and a New Years Eve party. We were immediately immersed in the daily lives of the villagers, moving into their homes and sharing meals with the family. We quickly acquired, as we did everywhere in Burkina, a posse of local children following and observing our every move.

The pace of the village was relaxed as they prepared for a New Year's holiday celebration. All over the village, families cooked and prepared for the celebration. The harvest was over, and the Bereba people were ready to celebrate. We were welcomed in every step of the celebration process helping prepare the New Year's meal, brewing Dolo, and finally partaking in a New Year's Eve dance party complete with live band.

The Burkinabe never miss the chance for a good party. We also visited the FAVL library in Bereba. We learned how the library system worked in a village setting and heard from villagers how much it impacted their lives. We learned of the impact that the library is having on students in the village. The library is very much appreciated in the village as everyone we met made a point to stress.

Our village stay was a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the capital, Ouagadougou. This stay afforded us the opportunity to experience life in rural Burkina Faso. The people seemed genuinely interested in their visitors and in displaying their culture. We will always be thankful to the people of Bereba for welcoming us and to the members of FAVL for facilitating it.

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