End of our trip this time, so last blog. We had to change our return date due to the fact that Air France is on strike (again).  Between the railway company which is  on strike 2 days per week since 5 weeks, and Air France on strike at least 5 days per month, it is not easy to plan travels to and in France.

Firebug (gendarme) a very special insect

Kapok tree

At this period of the year there are many insects around the kapok trees (kapokier ou fromager). They can be seen in tandem formation while mating, which can take from 12 hours up to 7 days. The long period of copulating is probably used by the males as a form of ejaculate-guarding under high competition with other males.

They have an African masks design on their back.

Inscect with African mask on their back

An unexpected discovery was made in the 1960s when researchers who had for ten years been rearing the bugs in PragueCzechoslovakia, attempted to do the same at Harvard University in the United States. All specimens died without reaching maturity. The source of the problem was eventually proven to be the paper towels used in the rearing process; the effect only happened if the paper towels were made in America. The researchers could replicate these results with American newspapers such as the New York Times, but not European newspapers such as The Times. The cause was found to be hormones found in the native balsam fir tree (Abies balsamea) used to manufacture paper and related products in America (for more details looks at Wikipedia: firebugs).

Microcredit for women

Since 2002 we have been giving microcredits to women associations of rural villages. There are now over 2.700 women with a credit of 20 and 35 euro. The credit is for one year and with  7% interest rate.

In the past 2 years we have seen the number of women in some villages increasing abnormally. We found out that women where taking several credit using names of other women, or women who had left the village were on the list.

This year we have decided to have a better control on the list of women asking for microcedit. The first village we visited was Oualana. We asked that all women who wanted to be on the list come to a meeting. They actually did. We had over 120 women in front of us which is very close to the number of their list. Lets hope that it goes as smoothly in the other villages.

Production of soumbala

Sumbala or soumbala is a condiment used widely across West Africa. It is usually prepared by women over the course of several days, traditionally from the  néré tree . The traditional production now faces strong competition from low-quality stock cubes.

We have started a more professional production of soumbala of néré . There are 5 women working on the project and the first production is coming out. Everybody who tasted the product is very enthusiastic.

Soumbala in powder form

Soumbala in grain form

Wild grapes

It is the time when wild grapes are becomng mature. Not much to eat per grape since it has a big pit, but its is nice and sweet.

Proverb of the week

Celui à qui la souffrance est épargnée doit se sentir appelé à soulager celle des autres.

He who has been spared of suffering must feel called to relieve that of others.

Albert Schweitzer

La vie est un mystère qu’il faut vivre, et non un problème à résoudre.

Life is a mystery that must be lived, not a problem to be solved.

Ghandi

Until next trip,

Hervé