A few people have asked about my work... So I guess it's time I introduced Sida Ka Taa (SKT). The name means, in Dioula, 'AIDS, be off with you' or words to that effect. Dioula is one of the 4 national languages in Burkina (the others are Moore, Fulfulde and French and there are numerous other languages as well) - and is the one most spoken around Bobo.
SKT is an Association - probably what we would call a membership organisation - with a small permanent staff in an office where I am based, and a wider group of supporters. Attached to the Association is a theatrical troupe, and various other performers etc. Our main purpose is to use cultural approaches to raise awareness and combat stigma around HIV and AIDS, with some work on other health areas such as Malaria and Nutrition and also increasingly on Gender and Environmental issues. On and around international anti-Malaria day (or whatever it is called in English) there was a series of plays on a Malaria theme in various parts of the town and a couple of nearby villages.
We are in the process of putting together my work plan for the time I am here; so far I have been concentrating on meeting and getting to know people, familiarising myself with the organisation and its work, and getting to know the plays and stories which are the main output. So I have been attending rehearsals, which take place in the courtyard at the back of the office building, and performances, which take place anywhere - usually in a street - and taking photographs of both. Performances are sometimes in French and sometimes in Dioula; more about performances soon. Meanwhile I have been writing summaries of the plays (in French), to use in publicity and fund-raising, and translating some of the stories into English. Starting next week I shall be having a go at teaching English to some of my colleagues - we shall see how that goes, and whether they pick up English faster than I am picking up Dioula!