Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ebben Wiley's back in the States?! Say what?!

Hello faithful readers...

Sorry I did such a terrible job of blogging while in Burkina. I am now back in the States, and will be returning to my old blog

Peace Corps was amazing, and with out a doubt, will remain one of the most more memorable experiences of my life!

I grew much more than I ever expected. It's so odd... I was in West Africa for two and a half years, but if honestly feels like I just left the States. (I went to Paris for a week and went on a two week cruise from England to the Canary Islands; aside from that, I was in Burkina Faso.)

I expected things to be so different upon my return to home...I guess I expected too much. Because so little has changed (for the most part in terms of how America is) it's very hard to reconcile that I was actually gone for two and half years. THAT alone makes it even harder when it comes to where my friends are in their lives.

Gone are the days of dropping everything on a whim to hit the mall, or bar. Hello responsibility!

That said, I have some awesome stories/ things to share with you all. I am working on getting photos of all the fun things I bought in Burkina, and creating a post on my main blog.

I am also in the process of applying for a really cool grant that I will link everyone to in the next couple of days. I will need you to like my post on the sponsor's site for me to win.

I promise to get that post up before Monday morning!

Thanks so much for keeping up with me while I was in Burkina, and PLEASE continue reading on my main blog!

Happy Holidays!

Ebben Wiley

Friday, February 3, 2012

How does one make liquid soap?!

I can honestly say that I have never thought about how liquid soap is made. I simply go to the store, buy, use it, then repeat the cycle.

WELL, upon moving to Burkina Faso, that definitely changed!

Soap making is a great way to increase the income of women in the developing world. True, in some areas, the soap market has been flooded, so one may not be able to demand as high of a price, but it seems to me that the women are still happy.

I recently started working with a mothers group at my neighborhood primary school. They, like most people, are interested in increasing their income. I personally enjoy and prefer income-generating activities (IGAs) because you it is easier to track your progress and see results from all your labor.

I doubt I have peaked your curiosity about soap-making, but you're going to have to read my step-by-step (that probably left a few common-sense related steps out) guide and look at my pictures nonetheless. I LOVE my MOMS! They are incredible, and even if I don't understand a fraction of what they are saying (because it is in Moore), I still look forward to phone calls asking about soap-making...

Here we go....

1) Gather your materials... You'll need a bucket that can hold at least 15 liters, one kilo of tansigex (no one really knows how to spell this, but its the chemical we use that starts the soap-making process), a cup to take water out with, two buckets that can hold at least 7.5 liters of water, a kilo of rock salt, and a big wooden spoon! (Note: everything should be plastic or wood... DO NOT use anything metal!) 

2) Dissolve one kilo of salt into 7.5 liters of 

3) Whip the tansigex  until it looks like marshmallow fluff. This usually takes about ten minutes if you are working with one kilo- fifteen seems to be sufficient for up to three kilos of tansigex.

4) Starting with the salt water, add in water one liter at a time (alternating salt water, regular water) until all water is used. While you are mixing it is VERY important to add the water in in small quantities, and stir until the contents of the bucket are homogeneous (the same). Totally learned the hard way that this is necessary.

5) After all water is mixed you, cover your bucket, and let sit over night. 

6) [When you come back the next day] Uncover bucket, and add perfume(specific to soap-making, not the type you wear) and coloring. 
7) Bottle, and then you are ready to sell, Sell, SELL!

So there you have it... This is how to make liquid soap!

Until the next time, 

Happy blogging, 

Ebben Wiley

Oh, and sorry about some of the action shots... taking candid photos here is an art that I have yet to perfect. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

What is an AME?

What is an AME?

If you are thinking AME stands for African Methodist Episcopal, you are oh so wrong... well at least here in Burkina you are. AME, in Burkina, stands for Associations des Mères Educatrices (Mothers, and Female Educators Association).

Due to dated traditions and what not that exist here in Burkina, Women tend to be left out of important decisions when it comes to their children's schooling. With these associations, Women are now able to have more a voice when it comes to the scholastic environment.

At the primary school I am working with, the AME was non-existent. I am proud to say, that since my arrival in November of 2011, we have established an association with an executive board. We have also started doing income-generating activities. The larger idea is that we will be able to establish a center where children from the primary school can come on free days and holidays to learn trades skills. Yes, it is very important that these children receive an education, but it is also very important that they have work skills other than farm work to fall back on.

In this society, the most sought after jobs are NGO jobs and government jobs. Unfortunately, due to how the school system is organized here, few individuals actually make it into these jobs. The idea of the mothers is to equip their children with unique skills to make them stronger candidates for employment later in life. I LOVE IT!

We have started VERY small. Right no we are doing soap-making, and neem cream. There are countless problems with hygiene here, so soap is definitely something that makes money. Neem cream is also something that makes money here. Think of this as OFF, but natural. We boil down leaves from the leaves of the neem tree, and then mix it with shea oil to make a lotion of sorts. It ends up repelling mosquitoes, which in turn, helps prevent people from being bit by malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Its really cool, and I promise to come back and add photos, and better explain all of this.

All in all, I am VERY proud of my AME! They are kicking ass, and making giant steps every weekend!

I promise to keep you all better updated in regards to what I am doing.

Take care, and until next time,

Ebben Wiley

Where in the world is Ebben Wiley these days?


A great deal happened between rainy season and now. Obviously the fair happened, but I also changed sites.

I am no longer down in the East near Togo and Benin... I am not in the North not far from Mali. I have been at my new site since November 9, and I absolutely LOVE it.

I meant to post about the site change around Thanksgiving time, and got distracted by the super fast internet at our library. It is actually easier for me to work from site these days, and I take complete advantage of that.

I now have a house that is at least two and a half times larger than my old house, and a private courtyard that is , no joke, the same size of the courtyard I used to share with at least 13 other people, and God only knows how many animals. (Link to first post about my old courtyard.)

This new site feels like it always meant to be, you know? I mean, don't get me wrong, I am thankful for all my experiences at my old site. I learned a great deal from my old site, and if it were not for that, I don't think that I would be enjoying my new site as much.

I am currently working at L'École National pour les Enseignants Primaire (the National Teachers School). It is an interesting match. I am now more closely aligned with my original assignment, which was Girls Education and Empowerment (now known as Non-formal Education).

I work with the AME ( Student Mothers' Association) to help bring money into the school— I'll be posting on out income-generating projects soon. With the women, I also advocate for the rights of the children, and will be working with them to help teach their children income-generating activities during their free time, and school breaks.

Another project I am excited about is my work with the student teachers. During this time of the year, the student teachers from the teaching school go out into the field to observe teachers. I will be working with the student teachers at our school on Thursday mornings. Every Thursday, I will teach the student teachers a Life Skills lesson. It will then be their job to write a lesson to teach the students the next day. I feel this is a more effect way of teaching Like Skills and what not because it will be coming from a host country national. It is also a great opportunity for the student teachers to get some practice.

I am working on doing a big sibling/ little sibling exchange between the local high school and the primary school I work with, but that may be a little down the line.

All in all, I know that February is going to be too short. It's all good though, I am totally up for the challenge... I can honestly say that I have never gone to bed angry/anxious, nor have I woken up angry/anxious due to problems at my new site since being here. In fact, I feel far more integrated into my new community that I ever did at my old community.

Can't wait to tell you all more about life at site!

Ebben Wiley

How did the fashion show go?

Hey guys,

I am so sorry that it has taken me over four months to bring you up to speed on how the fashion show went... I am pleased to inform you that it went REALLY well!

The weaving association we worked with made over 300.000CFA (over 600USD) by the end of the fair from the fashion show, accessories, and orders for fabric at the fair.

Moussa (the shoe guy) made over 100.00CFA (over 200USD) by the end of the fair.

My tailors did pretty well as well. They brought in around 50.000CFA (USD) from the fair.

Work backed up, so the video footage that was taken has not yet been edited. Hopefully I will have that up soon though. Until then, here goes a link to a few unfinished photos from the fashion show. (I will post the other photos by Feb. 4, 2012. Promise.)

Happy bloggin,

Ebben Wiley