Real Life Lessons from Burkina Faso

Part of our training program in our company is the 3-4 years overseas OJT. This is after the  classroom training, local OJT in the Philippines and the advance technical training in Japan. Our company sends its trainees in different countries. As of writing, there are 100+ trainees and graduates which are sent in 23 different countries around the globe. We send trainees to the US, Canada, Brazil, Chile, and Japan to name a few. And I am here all alone in Burkina Faso.

I know. When my boss handed me my contract with Burkina Faso in it, I was confused. I thought they only send trainees to other countries. Why are they sending me to another planet? It’s the planet beside the asteroid B-612 where the little prince and his rose live right?

So I asked my boss where is that place in the universe and answered that it is somewhere in West Africa. Well, Africa and another planet is just the same thing. That time, there’s still an outbreak of Ebola in the West African regions so I got scared. He assured me that in Burkina Faso, no Ebola yet but advised me to be careful with Malaria. He said that it’s really normal in Burkina Faso. True enough, 4 months after I got Malaria and eventually survived. Yey!

I’m very sure that 98% of you haven’t heard Burkina Faso before. So let me educate you about Burkina Faso today. Burkina Faso’s former name is Upper Volta. You guessed it right! They got the superhero name of Ai Ai de las Alas from Burkina Faso’s former name. Amazing! Their third main product is cotton next to Marijuana and Shabu. JK. It is located at the heart of West Africa. And below is the map of West Africa. Their national language is French which is rubbish. JK. I love the French Language next to the French Fries and the French Toast.

Burkina Faso is still categorized as a developing country. The country is still not diversed when it comes to its residents. There are a few expats mainly working in the mining industry. This country is very rich in minerals. There are at least three gold mines in Burkina. And I work in the largest gold mine. I represent a Heavy Equipment Manufacturer as a bridge between the customer, distributor and the manufacturer. Others call this a threesome. We call it teamwork.

In the receiving company, our distributor, there are 5 different nationalities. There are Burkinabe, Congolese, Nigerian, Belgian and Filipino. In the team normally we are only 5 to 10 persons. We have a very weird field break system (vacation) actually. For the Burkinabe, they work for 10 days and rest for 5 days. For the black expats, they work for 12 weeks and rest for 4 weeks in their countries. For the Belgian, my site manager, he works for 6 weeks and rest for 3 weeks. And for me, I work for 9 weeks and rest for 3 weeks. Normally in Dakar, Senegal. But this year, I have a field break in the Philippines. Woohoo!


During my stay here, I learned many things aside from work-related stuff of course:

Hakuna Matata. That famous line from The Lion King is from the Congolese Language Swahili. It is spoken in different countries in Africa also like Kenya where the movie Lion King was set.

Soup Buwayu. It’s a kind of soup almost similar to pinapaitan. They don’t serve this in the restaurant inside the mine but they serve it at a restaurant in a small near our mine site.

Gentle Giants. To be honest, I was scared when I first came here. Almost all of the people especially the locals are towering over me. They also have a deep voice that adds to their “always angry” façade. But a few days with them, I discovered that I’m totally wrong. They’re always happy. Enthusiastic even and very harmless. They don’t even pick a fight or something. They are peaceful creatures and very friendly. As the sole Filipino in this place, I never felt discriminated or outcasted. I think they’re even more friendly than most Filipinos I meet.

Hot AF. I’ve been oriented with their climate here. I know it’s hot but didn’t expect it to be like this. The heat has that “in-your-face” feels. Maybe I should invent a portable/handy AC out here.

I’m Chinese / Japanese. Whenever I go out from my hotel in Ouaga, the vendors and/or taxi drivers would say Ni Hao or Konnichiwa to get my attention. They thought I’m Japanese or Chinese. For them, we look all the same. Well, the feeling is mutual.

Cost of living. As an expat living in a foreign country, I would normally compare the price of goods here to the Philippines. I know it’s not good to compare but I can’t help it at first. One example is the price of a 500ml Coca. In the Philippines, a bottle of Coca in a normal store is around 125-180 XOF (10-15 PHP). But here in Burkina, it’s price is at 500 XOF (40 PHP).

Basic life. I like to observe. When I go to the village nearby. I would just observe their life. The life here is basic. No running water but there are wells donated by the UN. The men usually works. Most of them at the minesite. And the women would just stay at the house to tend the kids. Education is also a privilege here. Some of the kids will just help in the fields. They plant cotton, mill and corn around this area. They also sleep unbelievably early. Around 20:00, most of the village are snoring already. There’s no electricity in the village. It’s a shame that the mine site consumes watts and watts of energy buy cannot share this to the community. Sometimes I feel guilty because in the site we have an AC, we have a fridge, and a CRT. I would even complain that we don’t have a flat screen while some of these kids don’t know what a TV is.

Big d*cks. It’s true. There’s a saying that “Once you go black, you’ll never go back.” Maybe they are pertaining to their d*cks? At one point, I felt ashamed with my Asian d*ck. African d*cks are very tasty. Most of the time they’re soft and tender. Yes, they’re confident like that. But they can get hard really fast also. They call it canard in French and it’s called duck in English. They serve it almost weekly in the restaurant on site. Oh you thought it’s the other d*cks? You green-minded you. Maybe next blog post.

That’s it for now. Lemme get back to my overdue reports. I’m dooooomed! #workworkworkworkwork

14 thoughts on “Real Life Lessons from Burkina Faso

  1. makaibang planeta ka naman! hahaha, ngayon ko lang napatunayan na green-minded ako, natawa ako ng mga bente, hahahaX20 >:)

  2. That was hilarious! I thought this blog took a nasty turn there for a minute. hahahaha good play on words, i love your sense of humor. Sorry about the bad hit in work location. I am sure it had nothing to do with your work performance, you just got the sh*t end of the stick on this one. As for struggling with French do not feel bad. It is my grandmothers first language and I still can’t speak anything other than conversational french. It is a real throaty type of language unlike Spanish that just kind of rolls off your tongue. However, french, Spanish and Italian are the 3 romance languages. So look at the bright side after you conquer this it should be easy for you to learn the other two as well. Good luck!!

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