Biking is big here for PCVs here in Burkina. Our Trek bikes are our constant companions, and one just has to look for the required helmet to identify whether another foreigner is a PCV (we’re the only ones wearing them). I’d be lost without my bike as I use it for every trip outside my house – to the office, market, etc. My site is pretty spread out, so walking isn’t really an option. I even bring it with me when I travel and cram it under or on top of whatever mode of transportation I happen to be taking.
For one week in September however, I’ll be using it as my sole mode of transportation, as I’ll be participating in the final week of the 2nd Edition of Le Tour de Burkina! I’ll be biking from Fada N’gourma in the east to Ouagadougou (through an indirect southern route) and staying with other PCVs along the way.
As you can see on the route map, the tour itself will be starting all the way in the southwestern corner of the country two weeks before getting to me out east. Most riders are just doing a few days worth, but a dedicated group is planning on doing the whole thing (sadly my vacation plans prevent me from doing the rest). The tour will traverse approximately 1,740 kilometers (that’s the distance from New York to Orlando) and pass by 32 volunteer sites. We’re hoping each stop can also tie in community events/awareness campaigns as well as promoting Peace Corps in our 50th anniversary year. At the same time, we’ll be fundraising for our volunteer-run Gender and Development (GAD) Committee. GAD gives grants (up to $120) to PCVs who want to start their own projects that promote gender and equality. For example, some past projects have included:
- Maternal and Child Health
- Family Planning
- Girls Camps
- Marketing Techniques
- Small Business Management
This year we’re aiming to top $6,000 in total donations. All 100% tax-deductible donations will be through the Peace Corps Country Fund and will go directly to funding volunteer projects. And in Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world, even a small donation can go a long way. As we get closer to the start of the tour I’ll put up more information as to how you can help out.
The tour will end in Ouagadougou and coincide with a huge PCV-run fair and the swearing in of 50 new PCVs (who arrived in country a few weeks back). The fair will feature many of the people we work with, who will be selling their various products, giving trainings, and enjoying themselves. Floby, perhaps Burkina’s most famous musician, will be performing and even introducing a new song written just for Peace Corps.
So there you have it – Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary and 50 new volunteers, all in the 50thanniversary year of Burkina Faso’s independence – pretty amazing, huh?