Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Dust Settles

So here we are, at the mid-point of our placement.  We’ve been working hard and, finally, we have lots to show for it!

To help Tigoung Nonma’s efforts in finding la
nd to build a new HQ, the Burkinabé and British IS volunteers have been tirelessly fundraising, writing emails to all who will listen, and working on a funding proposal template that will ensure potential donors get the maximum amount of information about the cooperative and our ambitions. The work of TN is so incredible that it’s difficult to do it justice, but we’re trying our best to create a proposal so charming and interesting that no organisation could ignore.

Why is this necessary? At present, up to 8 of us work in an office space of 6m² which doubles up as our shop. We have limited space to display the work of our members, and so a new HQ would provide an office, a shop and a workshop for our artisans; they would have a comfortable and safe environment in which to work. We’ve got a catering service as well so we hope to have a new café/restaurant to attract even more business. Every email and every letter we send could bring us one step closer to our goal, keep your fingers crossed for us!

Continuing with the new marketing strategy, written by a member of the previous cohort, we’re changing our marketing material so that they present a new, exciting and more professional image of TN.  We’re gradually modifying our letters and funding applications so that they use the new TN templates, as well as for our new craft and catering leaflets, our new sample product catalogue, and (with thanks to Ryan) a potential upgrade to our website! We’re also modifying the posters, created by the previous team, for our OPEN DAY ON FRIDAY 22nd  NOVEMBER. We’re going to have a lovely day of selling food and handcrafted goods, doing henna painting and hair braiding, to draw attention to the ability of disabled artisans and to try and raise funds for the cooperative. We hope that with this extravaganza and all our publicity, TN will have a well-established presence in Ouagadougou. That means more customers, more money for our members, and a stronger cooperative altogether.  We are also hoping that all the ‘Ouagalais’ (people of Ouagadougou), who have recently ‘liked’ our facebook page, will also come and take a look!

Outside of work, the weather is getting gradually drier by the day. The humidity has (thankfully) packed its bags and the red dust in the air sticks to everything: the clothes you wear; the clothes you leave to hang on the line; everywhere in your house and in your hair! The road to our accommodation, for example, is a major culprit in dust production. For some unknown reason it is the bumpiest road in all the land, and everyone drives along at high speed. In an effort to combat this, the local council have created speed bumps and (more entertaining) a tyre obstacle course for vehicles to drive through, with the aim of slowing them down.  It makes the journey to and from work feel a little bit like a round from ‘It’s a Knockout’ but that’s as effective as the move has been.  We’ve been left with more crazy driving and horn beeping. Wonderful!

As a last note, the members of TN and our lovely neighbours HSB (Handicap Solidaire Burkina) observed a 2 minute silence in honour of Remembrance Day yesterday, though it’s not normally done here. Just as with the British volunteers, some of the other staff members have relatives who fought for the Allies during World War II and so it proved to be a poignant moment.

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