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!



  1. What a beautiful image. Dancing to the bus. What a wonderful journey it must have been for you! Can’t wait to see you. Love, Patrice

  2. You have such a wonderful gift of writing with description, detail and emotion.
    I will miss your postings but not as much as they will miss you. An outstanding job and you left lasting help in the form of a clinic building, the mosquitoe repellant, girls playing soccer and much more. But most of all the gift and memory of your caring concern and time.

    Enjoy your well earned travels. Be safe – Love Aunt Joan

  3. I read this and cried as I can just imagine how sad it is for your family there to say goodbye and not know when/if they will see you again. I was happy to loan you to them but will have tears of joy to have you back home with me. I too will miss your posts and hope your writing talent will continue in your future endeavors. I love you Hayley Anne and am prouder than you can imagine. Travel smart and safely. Your Mom in waiting.

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