Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sugared Peanuts and Quality Time

On Saturday’s we usually have some of the kids from the orphanage visit us at our house and it is not unusual to find a few kids in the kitchen with me. Each week I invite two different kids to bake with me. We make cakes, cookies and other different treats together and then share what we made with everyone else. The kids really love it.

Baking Cinnamon Pull-apart Bread
Last week I was invited by one of our boys (pictured above) to cook with him in the orphanage kitchen. This consists of pots over a fire with various sticks. To adjust the heat you just add or remove sticks. Ingenious!
The African Kitchen

We made a traditional treat called Sugared Peanuts or Arachide Sucre. You can buy these in bags all over Burkina and they are addictively delicious. And now I can make them myself and I am sharing the directions with you if you would like to try making them as well.
First you start out with shelled peanuts. We had about 5 cups of peanuts. Place these in a pot and add water. Just enough to cover the top of the peanuts. Turn on the heat. Add sugar. We used about 1 ½ cups. Stir well over the heat until it starts to boil. Cover the pot and simmer. Check to see if the water is evaporated. When water is gone start stiring with a wooden spoon and keep stirring until peanuts develop a sugary hard coating. Take pot off the heat, pour peanuts into a heat safe bowl and let cool.

We're Cooking Now!

It was a lot of fun trying out the African kitchen and letting one of our kids teach me something. As usual, we shared our snack with everyone!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The 3 B's - Beauty, Burkina, Banfora

After having three groups come and stay back to back and a large gift distribution to plan, shop for and hold we were ready for a little rest. We decided to take a family vacation to Banfora which is an 8 hour drive to the southwest region of Burkina.

We made no reservations, just packed up the car and went. We reached Banfora in the late afternoon and the place we were planning to stay had no rooms available. We proceeded to three other establishments until we found a place to stay. Apparently there is a lot of construction in the area and the hotels are chock full of workers! Anyhow we were very happy with our hotel which had a pool and air conditioning...what more do you need when outside temps are 105 degrees?

The next morning we had breakfast at a place called relation to the fast food chain (there are no fast food chains in all of Burkina). It was an interesting place loaded with paintings all done by a local artist and good food choices. I had Cafe au Lait and French Toast topped with Mango Jam...yum! As you can see from the sign and numerous signs throughout Banfora, this town loves Disney. We counted over 15 paintings of Mickey and his friends!

We bought picnic supplies and headed out to find the famous Domes. We took no guide with us...we just followed general directions given in a guide book, stopped and asked local people, made a few wrong turns...but that's all part of the adventure. We never would have come across these strange items (elephant eggs?) if we had a guide.

Finally at the Domes! We did a lot of hiking, climbing, scrambling around on these odd geological rock formations. The only other place to have formations like these is in Australia. We swear that Mike found a lion paw print in the sand, but we never saw any animals while we were there.

After the Domes we left to find the Cascades. Again, we made many u-turns and complete circles driving through fields of sugarcane until we found the entrance. There was much climbing to different levels where each view was more spectacular than the last. We cooled off in pools of rushing water. It was a great time.

The following day we set out to find the Hippo Lake in Tengrela. We didn't think we were going to find this one, but we persevered and what should have been a 20 minute drive was over an hour until we found our destination. So glad we stuck it out because this was definitely another highlight of our trip. Our guide helped us into a wooden boat which we had to bail water out of first and then paddled us out onto the peaceful lake full of lily pads. He told us there were about 30 hippos living in two herds. We continued across the lake and then spotted them. About 15 hippos swimming in the water. Very cool! Afterwards our guide made necklaces and crowns for us from the flowers in the lake.

We had a very relaxing and fun adventure together that we will never forget!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hardships for Girls

A few days ago we went to deliver a gift to a young girl who was in our sponsorship program. Her former sponsor had sent money to purchase a gift and when we called to inform her we would be making a visit we found out that she had just given birth. The gift we had planned to purchase quickly changed to something that would meet the needs of her and her family. We packed up some grain and baby items and soap and headed over to her home.

While we were there we learned that the father of the baby was living with another woman and claimed that this child was not his. After a visit to Social Action, the man admitted that he was the father and said that he would take responsibility by paying for the care of the baby. Actually collecting any money has been impossible thus far.

There are many young girls who are taken advantage of and then left to care for their babies on their own. The majority of the time the girl is kicked out of the family courtyard because they have brought shame to their family. In some cases the village chief or village elders will tell the grandmother to kill the baby. Fortunately, this is not the case for this young girl. Her family is helping her and she is even continuing her studies at school. She nurses her baby when she is home and her mother gives milk to supplement. This is very hard financially for the family because milk is expensive. Her parents, however, are very proud of their daughter because she is at the top of her class. She is probably the only one in her family to go to school.

If the baby's father decides he wants to take responsibility of the child he can actually take the child away from her mother. This usually happens after the child is about two years old and weaned completely off of milk.

Sitting in the courtyard with this girl and her newborn just broke our hearts. Please pray for her and the multitudes of girls just like her.