Posted by: hdroppert | December 31, 2012

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted by: hdroppert | November 17, 2012

La Fin: Bittersweet Goodbye

So this is it. After living in Burkina Faso for more than 2 years, this adventure has come to an end. My last few weeks in village, I tried to enjoy the little things that I do all the time: having a calabash of dolo with my favorite tantis, playing with the kids, etc. For the first time ever in this country, time seemed to pass quickly. Those last few weeks were sad. People kept telling me that I couldn’t leave, just stay a few more months, weeks or days. I tried to stay productive but unsurprisingly, my head was in a different place. As I let my “work” activities wean and focused on the people I had lived with and around since 2010.

2 days before my departure, my Tanti prepared dolo (millet beer) and we had a burkina-style “party” (rice, to, leaf sauce and mysterious chicken morsels) in the courtyard. Listening to my host dad and village chief praise the work that I had done and level of integration was emotional yet extremely gratifying. The next day, my clinic staff and village development committee held a ceremony for me at the clinic. They gave me locally-made gifts: personalized basket, traditional fabric and had many kind words of gratitude. I was packed. I had said most of my goodbyes. That left only the actual leaving bit.

My house is on the major paved road leading to Ouaga so in order to get on a bus  all one must do is flag it down. Now this seems a simple feat but is never a sure bet. In the morning, all my favorite women and kids waited with me on the side of the road. I kept on waiting for myself to breakdown but sitting on the side of the road is kind of a funny venue for that. Finally, after about an hour, one of the kids spotted the bus coming. We lined up and waved our arms wildly trying to get the drivers attention but didn’t see us until the last minute and skidded to a halt 200m down the road. Thus a stampede of villagers with all of my baggage on their heads stampeded down the road. With the driver honking, I didn’t even have time to lose it. Hugging tanti goodbye I felt the tears welling, she noticed too and so my 2 tantis with arms around me started dancing. Dancing of all things! Though I know that this is the Dagara way of mourning so I shouldn’t have been too surprised, the bobbing/body checking swell that pushed me towards the bus’ door made my departure almost hilarious.

So then there I was with just the 6 hour ride and my few tears standing between me and Ouagadougou. Once in Ouaga, I was so happy to be with my friends but our days were a whirlwind of paperwork and medical appointments. Though it was emotional, powerful and painful. It is what it was supposed to be. I am ready to move on to the next thing. When I left, I told all my villagers, “see you next time”. Hopefully I will make it back and see the joy on my villagers’ face. Here we go, off to Mozambique and South Africa! Burkina: Merci beaucoup et à la prochain!

Posted by: hdroppert | October 19, 2012


Last week a few friends and I set out on a little adventure, the last that 2 of us would have in this country. I have some of the best stories and memories from bike excursions that I have taken with other volunteers “en brousse”, off the grid. Kate (who is leaving with me next month), Evan, Mckenna (who both have a year to go) and I set out for a rural village skirting the edge of Mali.

There is something incredibly thrilling about going somewhere you know so few westerners have gone before you. It felt like our little secret, the sort of place you really have to fight to get there which makes it all the more special. This feeling was only curbed a little by the French documentary-maker who we ran into at the campsite…..

We had a wonderful time: Biked over 120 kilometers. Roasted hot dogs over a campfire (and then doused them in salsa because we had no other condiments). Talked. Scaled waterfalls. Found swimming holes. Trudged through rice paddies. Drank really cold beer. Biked. Made some friends. Made some children cry. Talked some more. Saw a traditional cliff dwelling village. Hiked in the beating sun. Climbed up the biggest cliffs in Burkina. Dropped-jaw at the best views this country has to offer. Laughed. Didn’t cry, thankfully. Got bit up by mosquitoes. Mostly, we enjoyed each others company.

Only a little over 1 month left for me in Burkina!

Posted by: hdroppert | September 20, 2012

Mom’s notes from the field

My mom’s visit was wonderful but no one can say it better than her. Plus I am nearing the end and my jaded-ness is at an all time high. Mom knows best anyways:

“Being in country with Hayley was so fun as I met her friends who are Peace Corps Volunteers at different sites and in different jobs. Most interesting and inspirational was being in her village for a week, meeting her wonderful family there and feeling the closeness and caring they have for her. I was also able to observe the mutual respect that she has established. The other fabulous part was going to the clinic and seeing the mother’s with their babies waiting for the baby weighing and vaccinations. This was occuring in the very buiiding Hayley had helped fund and build. She was so pleased to see it actually being used in the way she had envisioned. I was able to help weigh the babies and measure their little arms to check for malnutrition which meant holding lots of them- Yes!!! Riding bikes to the marches and sharing dolo with the villagers was a highlight. They are so welcoming and offer food and drink. Despite the lack of clean running water and electricity, there is not blatant disease or sadness and the people seem happy. The family and friend connection is very strong and allows everyone to belong to a community- whether that is a tribe, a village, a school or a group. They need one another to exist and are so sharing and generous with one another. Seeing Hayley’s relationships with the community members and her peers made me smile. My trying to speak French -or better yet Dagara- made them smile :)”



Posted by: hdroppert | August 18, 2012

Project Progress

Sorry for the absence but things have been busy! Things are starting to look pretty good around here. The Cas de Santé pavilion structure is very near complete. And mosquito screens have been mounted just in time for the very worst of the mosquitoes, which are eating me alive!

We went from this:

To this:

And have finally arrived here!




These screens are installed on the windows of the infirmary at the clinic and the maternity, screen doors were also put in. This time of year mosquitoes are rampant making malaria rates sky-rocket. Since the parasite causing malaria is passed from one person (already demonstrating malarial symptoms) to another, these screens will prevent those with malaria from infecting others and from mosquitoes from entering the clinic.


More to come as the we continue along.

Thank you again for all the support!



Posted by: hdroppert | June 16, 2012

Mado’s Magical Medicine

Meet Mado. This woman has been working with me over the past few weeks making all-natural mosquito repellant cream and reaping the full benefits. It is the first time in her life that she has ever had an income. She makes me keep the money in a little jar in my house; she says she is saving it for the next time someone in the family falls sick to pay for the consultation and medicines.

With 5 kids and a cigarette-addicted husband (which is highly problematic here due to the high percentage of funds his habit evaporates), Mado can’t be older that 35. She and I have been meaning to get this project started for months; however, during that time she has fallen sick with malaria twice and twice her baby girl, Bertine, has too.

This Peace Corps taught remedy is something that I have worked to teach women’s groups and individuals for more than a year. I have probably taught in nearly 20 times during my service seeing few results or replication. I will never know why but this time around it has really caught on. If Peace Corps has done anything for me its increased my patience immeasurably; “try, try again” is so necessary here. In the past few weeks, we have made 5 batches of the cream and sold out while the stuff is still hot, sometimes before we can even get it in the jars. While selling, she counsels her customers to apply the cream every night after showering (read: bucket bathing) to prevent mosquito bites and ultimately malaria but to still always sleep under a mosquito net.


The financial returns are undeniably good. The recipe calls for 3 liters of water (free), 2 square of soap (350 cfa/65 cents each), 8 balls of shea butter (25 cfa/4 cents each), neem tree leaves (free), and lemon tree leaves. Each batch yields about 8 jars (recycled medicine bottles free from the CSPS) that we can sell for 150 cfa each + a 50 cfa deposit recuperated upon returning the bottle. Total cost of production= 550 cfa ($1.10); total won from sales= 1,200 cfa ($2.40); total in Mado’s pocket each time= 650 cfa ($1.30); seeing the smile on Mado’s face after the first successful round of sales= priceless.




Posted by: hdroppert | May 13, 2012

THANK YOU! Construction’s starting…..

All of you who donated or intended to donate, thank you thank you. The contributions you have made are incredible and there is nothing I can really say to express my gratitude for your support.

So I will have to show you: My village has already gotten started on their 30% contribution. Each of the 8 villages served by my clinic made hundreds of bricks going into building the new children’s consultation room. Construction has already begun!

Posted by: hdroppert | May 6, 2012

Nearly there….

Only $1000 left until the project is fully funded!!! We are trying to get the project funded in the next week so that construction can get started before the rainy season hits us hard here in Burkina.

If you can help out, please click HERE to go to the donation page or forward it on to friends and family!

Any help would be wholly appreciated. Thank you all!




Here are some of the neighborhood cuties to motivate you 😉

Posted by: hdroppert | April 29, 2012

Call For Help!

Before I go asking for favors, I want to thank you all for the incredible support thus far of my Peace Corps service. Sometimes it is the only thing that keeps me going!

Now for that favor….

Through the Peace Corps Partnerships Program (PCPP), I have designed a project along with my clinic staff and community members that can be funded with the help of all you wonderful people back home!


The goal is to implement a multifaceted comprehensive clinic improvement project to make the CSPS of Bapla a cleaner, healthier, more attractive, productive and efficient operation. All of the improvements will help work towards improving our communities’ major health issues which are: high rates of malaria, child (0-5 year olds) mortality, poor hygiene, elevated malnutrition and low rates of family planning usage.

The major physical changes will be the addition of 2 facilities: 1 is a consultation room devoted only to clients 0-5 years old. 2nd is the construction of a gazebo-like pavilion that will be used for health awareness discussions, nutritional consultations and baby weighings. Around these structures we will be planting trees whose vitamin-rich leaves can be used by villagers to improve the nutritional value of their meals. We will also be digging “lost wells” which provide drainage for areas of standing water (particularly bad during the upcoming rainy season) that are breeding havens for mosquitoes. The grant will allow us to finally install mosquito screens in the infirmary and maternity to protect the sick and newly born from vicious malaria carriers. Along with the clinic’s directional committee, I will build handwashing stations and teach members how to fabricate their own liquid and hard soap to encourage better hygiene practices. Also, with this money we will be able to electrify the clinic so that emergency nighttime consultations no longer need to be completed by flashlight.

On top of all these physical changes, we will use the new pavilion structure to hold a series of trainings for over 20 community health agents from 8 different villages on the following topics: malaria prevention, best child nutrition practices, family planning options and benefits and hygienic living. The villagers trained will embark on their own awareness campaigns in their specific villages to pass on this information to the nearly 12,000 people serviced by Bapla’s clinic.

Now I need your help to make this all become a reality. CLICK THIS LINK  to make a tax-deductible donation that will help me help my Burkinabé community. If you are interested in more information do not hesitate to contact me or my parents.

Thank you for your continued support! Follow along for updates on the progression of this undertaking!

Posted by: hdroppert | March 25, 2012

International Women’s Day 2012

March 8th is International Women’s Day. A holiday celebrated around the globe and, ironically, it is little known in America. This year my fellow neighbor volunteers and I decided to build upon the festivities that were already being planned in our provincial capitol of Diébougou. We put together a girls soccer tournament which might seems ordinary to you all but is outrageous here. During planning, most people scoffed citing the “widely known fact” that girls don’t play soccer…. you can imagine how that might have made me feel.

For the mini-tournament, we brought in teams from 4 different middle schools in the province. There were 2 games in the morning and a championship match in the afternoon between the mornings winners. One of the morning games and the final both went to penalty kicks, real nail biters. The games drew huge crowds of men, women and children. For some of the girls it was their first time in the provincial capital. They were just so excited to get the chance to play. Unfortunately our girls were disappointed to lose their first game. But they were all happy to get lunch served to them and all participants went home with a t-shirt!

After the games, there was a game scheduled between the female nurses and teachers of Diébougou. My neighbor Emily who is affiliated with a local primary school and I were asked to play, seeing how I am with the clinic. So we took the field, barefoot and in our matching outfits, on opposing teams. Looking around the field after we played (nurses won, of course), I realized that I had just played in probably the most well attended game of my life, there were well over 1000 people there. Throughout the rest of the night, men (and a few women) expressed their shock to me that I could play soccer. Some would say, “you play like the boys can,” to which I would say “no, I play like everyone can if you give them the chance.” It was probably the best way I could have thought to teach Burkinabé that girls too can play soccer. Great way to celebrate International Women’s Day.

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