Monthly Archives: April 2014

El Pagne

Behold one of the most representative and culturally important pieces in the West African culture: The Pagne.
The Pagne is a piece of cloth, most of the times quite colorful. Women wear it as a skirt, or you can take it to the tailor and get a pretty dress or a shirt for men out of it.

The pagne has multiple uses: it dresses the person wearing it, but it is also good to carry babies on mama’s back, to lay children to sleep on the floor, to carry hot pots from one stove to another without burning your fingers, for drying the sweat off your face, for a light cover while napping, among others.

Carry babies on mama's back

Carry babies on mama’s back

Little girl sleeping on the floor

                 Little girl sleeping on the floor

It is also good to identify members of the same family or an ethnicity (different ethnicities wear different designs of pagne)

IMG_1548            Domingo Pascua (5)

A lot of people wear clothes made out of religious pagnes for Sunday mass. Here is a picture of my three friends, showing off their Sunday shirts:

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The local church actually has its own pagne design, which was the highlight of the anniversary celebration. They sold out in 3 hours! Everybody wanted one (or two or three):

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Speaking of one, two or three, one will make a good skirt, tablecloth or baby carrier. Two are good for an outfit and three if you want to include a hat like this women did:

Domingo Pascua (8) Domingo Pascua (13)

Men also like their pagne outfits:

Domingo Pascua (9)        Domingo Pascua (15)

Myself, I have one because the first year of university, there were 2 women from Angola in my class. They didn’t continue with our group, but before leaving, one of them presented me a pagne, as a symbol of a very important piece of her culture. Of course I didn’t know what to do with it and I have been using it mainly as beach blanket until now that the girls in the foyer have taught me how to wear it correctly and proudly… it has a full technique!

IMG_1812         IMG_1592

Sister Rosanna has one, but she never wears it, she carries it in her hand, which we all find a bit odd, but it also goes.

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You can find all designs of pagnes at the local market, there are plenty to choose from!

IMG_2099          IMG_2104

I like pagnes a lot because they have many meanings and uses behind, but also because they fill West Africa with color and style.

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Chez La Mision Ste Thérèse

Welcome to La Mission Ste Thérèse, my home for the next little while. Here are the headquarters for pastoral catholic care in Duékoué and 84 villages around.

grounds

The Salesian fathers and sisters run it together. They have different sections: a boarding home for 50 girls and 50 boys who come from the villages around the study here

Boarding home for girls

Boarding home for girls

Boarding home for boys

Boarding home for boys

There is the vocational school where different trades are offered: sewing, carpentry, cooking, mechanic, agriculture, etc.

Centre Professional Artesanal Rural (CPAR) Saint Jean Bosco

Centre Professional Artesanal Rural (CPAR) Saint Jean Bosco

La Pastisserie

La Pastisserie

The sisters run a clinic open to the public 6 days a week. The doctor is from Mali, his name is Jacques. I am currently helping him in the mornings with reception-triage-info collection-malaria tests and cash duties.

Clinic

Clinic

Your healthcare team: Dr. Jacques & Monica

Your healthcare team: Dr. Jacques & Monica

The mission grounds are the favorite place to hang out for many youth since it has the nicest sport grounds in town, plus despite the many local ethnicities in this area, the people say everybody feels welcome here. Many schools and local organizations also use the facilities here for their own activities.

Football field

Football field

Parking spot

Parking spot

The church is very active and it has a very large number of groups doing all sorts of activities: all ages, all languages, all preferences. The two priests and the full-time catechist also travel quite often to the surrounding villages for pastoral care.

Ste Therese church

Ste Therese church

Watching the Lion King in Africa has its own charm

Watching the Lion King in Africa has its own charm

Scouts Ivory Coast

Scouts Ivory Coast

It is three of us lay foreigners also working here: Martha and Toni from Spain and myself. I can be found around here as the troisième Martha (the third Martha, since the second one is Toni), la nouvelle soeur (the new sister), or the girl who mixes Spanish and French when speaking. At your service.     🙂

Martha, Toni & Monica

Martha, Toni & Monica

This is a picture of my favorite time of the day: Sunset. The sunsets here are very yellow. I love to sit down at the football benches with very cold water and enjoy them for a few minutes, either if there are people playing in the field or not.  It is more often than not that a few children will join and just sit down there quietly enjoying the moment, keeping me company. And then you just feel happy to be alive.

sunset

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En route à Duékoué

Abidjan, says Sister Rosanna, was the Paris of West Africa before the war. Apparently the city took a beating during the 2011 crisis with 2 presidents running the country at the same time, each with their headquarters in different neighbourhoods within Abidjan. Still, it remains the economic engine of the country, strapped between lagoons and waterways. The thing is that it is now quite overcrowded with all the refugees from the war years, and also from the Liberia conflict who fled here. The conflicts are finished now, but the people stayed. Anyways, here is a picture of Abidjan:

The Plateau neighbourhood in Abidjan

The Plateau neighbourhood in Abidjan

We hit the road Monday morning Duékoué-bound. At km. 230 we arrived to Yamoussoukro, the theoretical capital of the country. Yamoussoukro was made the capital apparently because the president that followed independence, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, was born here. The city is quite small but we caught three main sights: The hotel where the African leaders were meeting that same day, the presidential palace and the cathedral.

Now, the presidential palace has a lake on its southern side where crocodiles live. It is said that anybody who was in opposition of the president was tossed to the crocodiles.

Yamoussoukro Palais Presidentiel

Yamoussoukro Palais Presidentiel

We made a pit stop at the Cathedral to stretch our legs, have a bite to eat and well, visit it, since it is quite spectacular. The Guiness Records book regards it as the largest Christian building in the world after the Vatican itself. Apparently all the countries in Africa pitched in to build a bit of it. It is really beautiful and huge.

Basilique Yamkro      cathedral interior_sm

The remaining 370 kms Sister Rosanna drove courageously through the quite un-maintained road that resembled the moon surface. We stopped once to buy pinneaples and grapefruits from local women at the side of the road. Then at km 8 to arrive, we saw the mountain that gives Duékoué its name: it means elephant back

duekoue mountain_sm

Do you think it looks like an elephant back? I think so. I will try to get a better picture of it now that I am in town.

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