Wednesday, March 14

And It Won't Cost You A Dime

This week is the grand formation to teach the young women of Pô how to dye fabric using traditional powders from plants and animals. I don't even want to think about the piece of an animal, any animal, that can be used to dye fabric. Anyway, the formation should have begun last week, but for those of you without a calendar, last Thursday was March 8. Huit Mars, in French (pronounced wheat mars here in Pô), or International Women's Day. It's a national holiday here and in most countries on the planet. As it should be!

Then, this past Monday morning, the harmattan was blowing and the sky was red with dust. Probably not the best day to work with water and expensive white fabric. The harmattan blows south from the Sahara, through the Sahel, and into little Pô. It happens quite often, but not with this severity. Visibility was probably less than 100 meters. Personally, I love it. It's like having a snow day in Dallas. Pô shuts down and there's nothing to do but close the shutters (literally) and watch movies. Nothing else happens. No one works or leaves home.

But the harmattan finally went on its way, and it was back to work for me . . . withs a wood fire made from scrounged wood with a kettle (we say marmite, pronounced mar-meet) full of hot water. I can pick up its lid with my bare hands . . . sering hot. I've got the scars to prove it. It always worries the women when I reach for the marmite cover. They know well that there isn't a woman anywhere in the U.S. who is as tough as they are. And they are correct, and indeed I've been known to go too far and attempt things that I'm clearly not tough enough to perform.

OK, so I bought these traditional powdered dyes in Ouaga many months ago. Finally, I obtained the hydroxe (what do you suppose that really is?) and the soude caustique (think dry, powdered, caustic lye . . . tres dangereuse and literally explosive in water), all of which is needed to teach fabric dying with plants and animal-piece powders. There are many ways to color fabric. Tie dye is one of my favorites . . . known well to any former Girl Scout. But my new favorite? Salade. Yep, they call it salade (pronounced sahlahd). And in fact, if/when we use green dyes, it does look like a green salad . . . some spots darker, some lighter, some almost white. Here's one of my buckets full of blue dye. I ask you, what animal or plant produces blue dye?! But equally of interest . . . note the clothing Biba and Yassine are wearing with the red check. That's the 2012 Huit Mars pagne. There's a different design each year.

But on with our story. Dying fabric with traditional powdered dyes involves mixing the color, the mysterious powder known here as hydroxe, and the soude caustique in bucket with about a liter or two of hot water. Stand back . . . this stuff is truly dangerous. It's the same soude caustique used when we make hard soap. Makes you want to run-don't-walk and sign up for the Peace Corps right away, doesn't it?

Anyway, the technique involves boiling your fabric (bezzin) to remove the wax that produced its white-on-white pattern (think Damask). Then wring the scalding fabric (I can do this bare-handed) and spread it on plastic. I didn't have the time nor the inclination to hunt-down a large piece of plastic, so I chose to donate one of my plastic mats. After the fabric is spread onto the plastic, start scrunching. I believe that's the technical term: scrunching. This can be done in myriad ways. The make-a-paper-fan folding method, the peak-and-valley-scrunch, or my favorite, the twist-and-scrunch in-circles method.

Then one takes a broom and flicks very strong color onto the wet, scrunched-up fabric. I believe that flick is also the proper technical term, though it doesn't translate; and yes, that's a whisk broom that I brought with me from the States. The dye isn't as caustic at this point, but getting it on your skin isn't what I'd call pleasant. Only after the dye is set and the fabric taken through its first rinse does the caustic potential end. The results, obviously, are areas of darker and lighter colors, and even areas that remain white. You can probably picture it here. When this scrunched-up fabric is stretched out, we'll see dark and light blues and even some whites. Here, Yassine has decided to make one side blue and the other side violet. She'll then flick streaks of ocher yellow on both sides. The results will be stunning, I promise.

And then there's the traditional tie-dye, using rubber bands. The best product of the day was from good ol' tie-dye with a single color of very strong violet. It was so pretty that I'm returning with some of my old pagnes tomorrow to re-dye them. My girls at the Maison de la Femme! My oh my! Their imaginations are amazing. Proving once again that there's little I can teach here that can't be improved in the blink of an eye.

So why are we doing all this dying? It's not merely so the gals will have new clothes. Nay. It's to sell in the new boutique that we're hoping to open at the Maison de la Femme. Tomorrow we'll finish the tissue transformation formation and make some neem cream. What's neem cream? Why, I'm so glad you asked.

Pick some smelly leaves from the neem tree, boil them, drain and save the smelly water, and add to that water a bar of hard soap that's been shaved with a knife so finely that you'd never guess it was ever a bar of soap. Then add some shea butter and mix well. If you're lucky, you've found a bar of soap with nice scent that will mask the smell of neem leaves. If you're very lucky, which we are, it will actually smell like a perfumed body cream. Remember, I've got of soap from Stateside, which I clearly can't use-up in the next several month at site. No, not sustainable, but one can find a decently-scented soap here. Anyway, after this is mixed, you'll have a lovely cream that really feels marvelous on your skin (it's the shea butter). But its big selling point? Mosquitoes absolutely hate it. Voila! Cheap insecticide, safe enough for baby.

So the gals at the Maison de la Femme are stocking up on products to sell at their new boutique. It's great fun to watch our inventory grow. And how much did this week cost you? Not one penny! But I thought you'd find it interesting. 

Can anyone tell that my service in this marvelous land ends in the autumn and already I'm finding it hard to say goodbye to Pô's Petites.

Thursday, January 26

Condom Handling At Its Best

Our AIDS/HIV wall was completed this week. My fellow PCV, Naeta, and her flawless French, came all the way from the border of Mali to help. We estimate that about 125 persons, mostly under the age of 25 years (precisely my target demographic) turned out to see what I had planned for this wall. Indeed, well over a hundred showed-up, but only about 75 participated actively in the condom demonstration, the sensibilization about HIV, the games, and for the hand-print decoration of the wall.

Sometimes there simply aren't enough wooden penises. In our health kit the PC provides one wooden penis and one wooden device that purportedly represents external female genitalia (though, trust me, it doesn't). So what do we have this time of year in Pô that can be used to demonstrate condom use? Why, the cucumber, of course. And during the time of cool-season gardening, these are cucumbers of no small size. In fact, they're enormous . . . and inexpensive . . . and uncircumcised. Perfect for a demonstration about how to use a condom.

And who doesn't love a condom-application speed-race using a cucumber?  Now I don't know whether it's good news or bad news, but my students are experts. The goal was to properly dress the cucumber with a condom, beginning with the visual inspection of the condom package (expiry date, right?), forming/identifying the petit chapeau at the tip of the condom, application of the condom . . . and continuing the demo right up to removal and proper disposal of the condom. Trash can disposal here is not an option for a number of reasons. Of course, Pô simply doesn't have enough trash cans . . . it's not as if every household has a trash can. Imagine that! But the bigger problem is that Pô's children are drawn to trash cans as so many American children are drawn to the foot of the Christmas tree . . . treasure lurks therein. Thus, the only place to dispose of a condom is in the hole of a latrine.

I've attended and assisted with a number of Sex Ed classes at Pô's Lycée, so I know that the my students already receive accurate knowledge about HIV transmission and prevention. The real question is whether they (or any of us) actually apply the knowledge to day-to-day living. After all, you can lead a horse to water . . . .

After the fun with condoms, each of Pô's Petites donned a latex glove that was then slathered with paint. They said aloud the healthy lifestyle promise and placed their hand print on the painted wall with the AIDS ribbon. While I had envisioned a wall with the red AIDS ribbon and a lot of red hands, I was happy that there were  many paint colors from which to choose. Most of Pô preferred green, which they recognize as the color of life. In any event, lots of multi-colored hands made for a much more colorful wall.

The Maison de Jeune is directly across from one of Pô's finest hair salons. Yes, my village has hair salons. These young ladies, generally too timid to join in the hand-print fun, definitely wanted condoms. So we took the party across the road to their salon and continued the education with our wooden devices. They look quite happy about the event, don't you think?

Yes, the day was passed discussing a very serious topic. But when it comes to young people, cucumbers, condoms, and colored paint, one can expect a lot of giggles. I encourage this. It's hard to be serious while tightly grasping a cucumber and trying to slip on a pre-lubricated condom. Giggling is entirely appropriate. Additionally, I'm convinced that all the giggling takes away some of the mystique, embarrassment, awkwardness [insert your own descriptive phrase here] from real-time condom usage, which is a serious issue here.

The grand finale of the day was the donation of a permanent hand-washing station (a bidon) at the Maison de Jeune. Liquid soap was donated, and now Pô's Petites have yet another location in Pô to practice hygiene. Yes, there was one tiny problem. As is so often the case in little Pô, the AIDS wall project came on a day when Pô was completely without water. Had it not been for our latex gloves, the village would have had their hands in oil-based car paint, with nothing but gasoline to remove that odorous paint. Hardly a desirable practice for safety and health. But hopefully by this afternoon, this bidon actually be filled with water for a true hand-washing station.

Once again, I say thank you . . . insofar as you, you, you (and Naeta's flawless French) helped make this possible for Pô's Petites. 

Thursday, January 19

Thanksgiving Comes Early in 2012

When I began fund raising for Pô's Petites I never had an exact target in mind. To date, I've received almost $800 U.S., with another $730 pledged that should arrive via PayPal later this month. As I think about what remains to be accomplished in Pô, I realize that a target of $2000 should be sufficient. That means we're only short about $500. That goal should be easily attainable.

So thanks to you, there's a lot going on in little Pô.  We've now dug 15 meters toward China and still no water for the well at the egg farm. We're debating whether to end this journey to the center of the dirt and begin in another spot. Yes, we consulted geo-services before digging; but evidently, finding water underground isn't an exact science. In the meantime, finally we're getting lots of eggs and some very happy hens. No, you know well that this isn't a hen. In other news:

The trash can project concluded some weeks ago, but it wasn’t until this past Monday that we held the ceremony to donate the new poubelles to the marché. The great news is that you donated funds for four trash cans, but Yaya negotiated a great deal and we ended-up with seven! Hand-washing stations (four more than originally planned, thank you all very much!) will be placed at each trash can, with several sensibilizations in the upcoming week on the importance of hygiene and hand-washing. Yes, there is a connection. OK, logical to you, but not here in The B.F.

Last Saturday the children made a gingerbread house, generously donated from the States. Thanks, Rusty. Children here understand the concept of cake, and they're ginger experts. We have, literally, tons of ginger. They're also experts in bon-bons, candy. Let me tell you, every single morsel of this gingerbread house was consumed less than two hours after it was complete. I swoon when I think of all that sugary candy. Sunday we had a toothbrushing sensibilization, with paste and toothbrushes generously donated by my dentist. This is not the first teeth-brushing sensibilization. To date, about 75 children have been educated with new toothbrushes and a good supply of Sponge Bob bubble-gum flavored toothpaste. Thank you, Dr. Mitchell!

Thanks to your generosity, we're going to have a Youth Development Conference in May in Pô, probably at the Maison de la Femme. Twenty-four students will come to visit Pô's Petites (transport, food, and lodging paid) and learn from them leadership tools and life-skills. I'm so glad that the world map is finished . Note the slight disparity between the political map painted by the women of Pô and our generally accepted Western version. Let me tell you, if the young women of Pô really intended to change our world's frontiers, I'd hate to be the person who got in their way. Now that the conference room is lovely, complete with large chalkboard for education, it should make a fine place for the week-long youth seminar. The ability to hold such a conference is in no small part thanks to you and is beyond my wildest expectations.

Last night we made hand puppets, just for fun. To the children, they're serpents . . . and they make great hissing sounds. After a bit of fun with the puppets, Pô's Petites (about 35 members of our English Club) wrote post cards to the students of my counterpart high school in Chicago. And yes, your funding allowed me to purchase 100 post cards (grand total of $17 U.S.) so that American High School French students can learn more about Burkina Faso and Pô's Petites. This is a truly important program because many of the students in Chicago have English as their second language. Thus, French is a third or fourth language for inter-city students in Chicago, just as it is for all of Pô's Petites. The post cards were begun in French, ending with a few questions or observations in English. Great fun and excellent practice for the students here and in the States.

Other project are mere continuations. For instance, my shea butter girls are now makings hard soap in a mold from Williams Sonoma, which was designed for little fun-size cakes shaped like flowers. Hey, if the mold will make tiny cupcakes, why not little flower-shaped soaps? These they will sell to the many little auberges here in Pô. We're marketing soap galore! In fact, the boutique is running low on stock, which is a good thing.

Our AIDS Promise To Live Healthy Lifestyles mural should be complete by the end of next week. Photos to follow. We're also planning to purchase fencing for the school garden and teach the art of transformation du soja to members of our surrounding villages. Lots of soy beans here Province du Nahouri.

Finally, we'll continue with the planting of about 1700 trees for a living fence around the high school. On behalf of myself, I cannot possibly thank you enough for your efforts. And believe me, not a day goes by that  Pô's Petites aren't reminded that these projects have been funded by my friends in the United States. Happy 2012!

Monday, October 31

Promises, Promises

I think my plate is full. Full enough that I'll be very busy until I leave my dear friends in Pô next summer. But more importantly, your kind donations already have accomplished so much. Here's a list of what your donations have accomplished so far:
  • Sixty (60!) lovely white hens have been purchased and are now thriving at the chicken farm.
  • Three hand-washing stations have been installed at the market, high-school, and chicken farm.
  • Four new trash cans are under construction and will be installed at the market. This is a huge accomplishment since Pô has a new trash collection program; however only trash in trash cans is collected. But four new trash cans in the market represents a huge volume of trash that will be removed weekly.
  • We have all the paint for Pô's Petites to create a mural on the Maison de Jeunes. On  World AIDS Day Pô's Petites will pledge to live a healthy lifestyle, dip their hands in red paint, and make their handprint on the wall below a painted pledge. This is very exciting. Obviously, condoms will be distributed and discussions will be held at most of our schools regarding HIV transmission.
  • A new well is being created at the chicken farm. But wait, that's not all. We're also creating a small pond that will be aerated for a small fish farm. Again, more protein for Pô's Petites. Water channels will be created to collect water during rainy season and channeled into the pond. Algae will be collected to by used as chicken feed. This is a huge project that is being partially funded by PC funds.
  • Tofu! Tofu has come to Pô's Petites. My friend Satia makes tofu kebabs each day, and she and the young women of Pô are making over $7 U.S. each day by selling to restaurants and individuals here in  Pô. 
These are just a few projects that are complete or underway here in Pô. School began earlier this month so it's time to begin this year's Club de Commerce. That means more liquid soap, cakes, and tie-dye projects. It's going to be an exciting autumn.

If I can ever get a decent internet connection, I promise that I'll upload photographs. In the meantime, I thank you, and Pô's Petites thank you.

Thursday, August 11

The Wonderful World of Soy


Busy times here in Pô. Good times. Two weeks ago I attended a formation in the neighboring village of Leo to make cheese and tofu with Jean-Louis. And lo and behold there was Francoise, one of Pô's Petites from my high school. Francoise is a young woman who is smart, ambitious, and committed to her education. I want to make her rich . . . rich in Burkina Faso defined as being able to feed and educate one's children. Now that Francoise knows how to make cheese and tofu, I want to help her start a little business for her family before school begins in late October. My association, GaMo Wigna also is fascinated by the concept of tofu. Especially since soy is widely grown in Southern Burkina. Oddly enough, it's not used, and the beans are taken to the capital for sale to exporters, with very little profit. Ah, but no more.

In the future, soy beans will be kept in Pô. Soy production is doubly promising since its by-product can be fed to Pô's Petites' chickens and used in making bars of soap. Giant cauldrons of soy milk, tamarind juice, vinegar.Who knew it was so easy to make tofu. Here's Francoise in her family's village of Gho, right down the road from Pô, obviously not dressed to work, but standing in the fields of soy. Animal feed, protein for Pô's Petites, and soap-making. And to think, I thought that tofu's sole purpose was in a bowl of Hot & Sour soup.

Then there's the planning for World AIDS Day. A little project called Paint The Town Red. This involves yet another mural, this time with a painted pledge to commit to a healthy lifestyle. Everyone in attendance will have the opportunity to dip their hands in red paint and plaster their handprints onto the white wall below a red AIDS ribbon. It's finger-painting at it's best.

And then there's the new mill, or moulin.  This little mill will grind corn, millet, and yes, even soy beans for tofu. But wait! There's more. The mill is sturdy yet tiny. So small that it can be mounted on a bicycle and taken from courtyard to courtyard or from village to village. Not only can it be mounted on a bicycle, it can be powered by a bicycle. Just raise that back tire off the ground and pedal-away on a stationary bike, grinding corn all the while. Nifty, huh?

A few other small things. I'm seeking funding for some trash barrels to be placed in our marche by Pô's Petites, together with a permanent hand-washing station and their liquid soap. In some ways Pô is very progressive. Our mayor recently instituted a trash pick-up program. This involves two men with a donkey cart who will empty a trash container (oh-so rare here) into the cart. It's hilarious. We still have trash everywhere on the streets; but if presented with trash barrels, most of Pô's residents will use them. If you built it, they will come. Or in this case, if you built it, they will toss.

Once again we see that the simplest of things here in Burkina can make such a tremendous impact on Pô's Petites? Again, thanks for your attention and generous donations.  

Wednesday, July 27

The Little Library that Could

Pô’s Petites have a library and new cyber. I love the way they pronounce cyber in French: see-bear. Through your very generous donations, routers and cabling were purchased for an Internet connection at both the lycée (high school) and the library at the mayor’s office (which is Pô's town hall). The library at the mayor’s office began like this: look closely -- here's merely one of three nice-size rooms full of shelving.  Largely empty and hardly impressive, right?  You call this a library?!

However, we looked around the building and brought in some reading and work tables. See those boxes atop the shelving? Well it turns out they were full of children's books. Who knew? So the shelves, boxes of books and magazines, and the tables were dusted and cleaned by yours truly. The mayor’s staff assisted in locating computers, and we even found some tiny chairs and stools for younger children. There's my colleague from the village of Leo, techno-guru extraordinaire, Hugo, confirming that the cyber server is properly installed.

My association, GaMoWigna, donated the best computer at the mayor's office, which is certainly not up to U.S. standards; but it's a beginning, it does work, and the mayor will be donating additional computers. We will eventually need a new computer, and thanks to your generosity, that purchase will now be possible. Equally good news: the President of GaMoWigna is also President of the APE (the Burkinabe equivalent of the PTA) and has purchased a number of new computers for a computer lab at the high school. Burkinabe students don't stop visiting their school during the summer and continue to work on their English and other classwork, which now includes computer skills. Can you imagine having given-up your summer vacation time to continue your education? Pô's Petites are wonderfully committed to education.

Now, when students turn-on a computer here's what they see. Look! With the new resource center, the children and students of  Pô can gain not only Internet skills, but basic computer skills. Here's my favorite example: I held a formation (a class) for a number of youth with a simple exercise: how to play Solitaire on the computer. Now is this really the best use of time and computers? Yes, in fact it is. Think about it -- in order to play solitaire, one must understand basic computer skills that you and I take for granted. Opening and closing computer windows, clicking a mouse, click-and-dragging a mouse. Everyone said that the game was very complicated. Can you imagine? Solitaire . . . complicated? Well, yes . . . if you've never even had your hand on a computer mouse, it is indeed complicated. But at the end of two hours, I'd trained the young librarian and a number of my students in how to turn a computer on and off, how to open windows, and how to use a mouse. Additionally, they learned basic computer terms (in French, naturally) such as click, double-click, drag and drop, etc. So, long after my PC service is complete, the librarian in Pô (as well as a number of my students) will be able to continue teaching computer skills. Obviously, we'll soon progress from playing Solitaire to more practical uses . . . everything from word-processing to creating spread sheets and PowerPoint presentations. Yep, Pô's Petites are that smart.

So what's the bottom-line here as far as long-term benefits for the village of Pô? Well, at the end of two weeks of work, new (or new-ish) books have been purchased and donated, and the library is beginning to take shape. No, it's not nearly complete; however, this image shows the main book room. Not shabby, right? The librarian and I are cataloging all books, including the English section, called the American Corner. Now you may ask yourself: Why have English books in a French-speaking country? Simple. English is required for all students in order to graduate from high-school. Therefore, sources of English reading material are essential for students to study and pass the bac, at which point they can become teachers, themselves.

I think the success of this on-going project can best be described this way:
I arrived at the library last Saturday to hear the sounds of soft laughter coming from the children's room. There inside the children's room, seated on the new little chairs and stools were four children under the age of eight, reading French children's books and laughing at the stories. I was very moved. In a room where nothing existed last month, there are now children reading in a setting that was tailor-made for Pô's Petites. And you, my friends, have made this possible. Thank you!

Friday, June 17

Pô's Petites . . . Petite Chicks, That Is

Who remembers the film It's A Wonderful Life. Surely your remember the line . . . Mr. Bailey explains to George (Jimmy Stewart), You know, George, I feel that in a small way we are doing something important.

So Pô Petite's are getting a chicken coop . . . a maisonette. This is presently my favorite project. A chicken coop? My favorite project? Yep, because it's for eggs . . . because Pô is sadly lacking in sources of protein. Pô has no eggs. Chickens are too valuable as producers of little chickens. So no one raises chickens merely for their eggs. No one, except my counterpart, Yaya, Pô's Petites, and l'Association GaMoWigna.

But the maisonette isn't merely a single building for hens. No. In fact, it's a number of buildings and covered shady areas in a large fenced field . . . because hens and chicks don't want to be too hot, nor too wet. Here's how it looked earlier in the spring, before the making of hundred of mud bricks. Presently, construction is almost complete, but we're lacking chickens. Yaya has donated some of his own chickens, who are busy producing little chicks. This is fine, but our local variety of chickens don't produce many eggs. This is beyond my comprehension, but I'll accept it. Evidently, the best egg producers, the nice white hens, are only available in the capital. They cost about $7.00 U.S. each. That's a pretty pricey hen by Burkina standards. Actually, that's a pretty pricey hen by U.S. standards . . . pricier than that fryer in the grocer.

Anyway, chicks are being produced by our local hens . . . Yaya's hens, who are temporarily living in the maisonette until funds can be located for better egg-layers. The tiny, wet bundle on the far right is the newest chick. Hatched before my eyes. The student's had seen it all before, but I was astounded. Did you know that a good egg-layer can produce 3-5 eggs a day, every day, for about 10 consecutive days? I had no idea. That's 50 eggs at 100 cfa per egg, or 5000 cfa . . . the equivalent of about $10 U.S. So despite the cost of feed, vaccines, and other care, this is a very sustainable project for Pô's Petites.

So currently, while awaiting funding, we're simply raising chicks and providing education on running an egg-producing business. For example, did you know that chickens have about a 30% mortality rate among young chicks? And the pintard mortality rate is even higher. Disease, injury by other chickens, genetics . . . all sorts of stuff. And chickens are dirty. I know because I clean their rooms . . . with a rake to remove the wood shavings on which they nest, then with a broom, and finally with chicken disinfectant and a large cloth. Even their drinking pans must be cleaned. Exhausting but fun work. Chicken disinfectant! Who knew there was such a thing. And these days? Why, at 20 paces I can identify the poop from an unhealthy hen or chick.

So in case this doesn't sound particularly thrilling or rewarding, consider the fun of lying on the ground with dozens and dozens of chicks. Imagine watching a chick hatch. Not sold on the idea? Fair enough; but I love it. These chicks are less than a week old. Probably about four or five days. Dozens of 'em, though not all healthy enough to stay with the tribe. Some will inevitably be lost . . . it's nature's way. The young chicks will live in the largest of the buildings with two hens who act as surrogate moms. These hens will teach, by example, so that the young chicks learn to peck and scratch in their bowls of meal. One would think that this would come naturally to a chick. Evidently not.

Once they reach a certain age, about 3 weeks, chicks want more than meal. They want insects, and they love termites . . . something of which Africa has no shortage. So we walk around the property with big machetes, to locate, chop down, open-up, and return with mounds of termite mounds. These chicks know just what to do with this harvested termite mound. No, you're absolutely correct . . .  they're not as charming at three weeks. Once they sprout their first feathers, the gild is off the lily, and I have no desire to run my fingers through them. At this point, they're merely livestock. To Pô's Petites, they'll always be livestock.

Sadly, not all chicks survive. On Wednesday morning two were discovered dead, and two more were dying. They're not the smartest of animals. Sometimes they get too wet in their little water pan and get chilled. I'd never seen a shivering chick. But that's what they do. Chicks shiver. Again, who knew? On many occasions I've sat for half an hour holding three or four in my hands in the sunlight trying to warm chicks. In this heat? Inconceivable! Perhaps it's the time of day during which they get too wet. The maisonette (all buildings) were cleverly constructed so as not to get too warm . . . or too much sun. In fact, prior to construction, we'd sit for hours and observe where the chickens wandered on the property . . . just to determine where they were happiest, to determine where the buildings should be constructed. Seemed like a great deal of trouble just to keep chickens content. But now they're happy and right where they want to be. Nevertheless, should a chick get drenched in the late afternoon, there's no sunlight to warm her. She'll shiver and possibly die.

But don't fret . . . there are dozens and dozens of chicks, with more hatching each week . . . even if they're not the good egg-producers. In fact, many chicks can be saved. Some chicks merely need extra coddling . . . like being fed water from a spoon. OK, tell me this man isn't patient (remember his patience with my sad French). He's also kind, and caring. Who takes the time to spoon-feed water to a chick? My homologue, Yaya! As Yaya says to me and the students, un peu, un peu . . . little by little.

So there you are. The maisonette. And you know, friends, I feel that in a small way we are doing something important. Growing each week, little by little. Teaching students to raise chicks.Teaching a sustainable financial model. Explaining the importance of protein in our diet. And one day, bringing eggs to Pô's Petites. Now all we need are the good egg-layers. But from whence cometh additional financing for the chicken coop? Pô's Petites would like to know.