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Photographer's Note

From an alphabetization programme for women in Banfora, southwestern Burkina Faso. This photo is from 1982, when the country was still known as Upper Volta (Haute Volta). I spent a month there (and a total of four months in West Africa) doing freelance stories. This project was assisted by the UNESCO and its purpose was not just to teach women to read and write, but also to teach them about hygiene, health, nourishment etc.

So what about the Guinea worm refered to in the title? According to what I was told, the sentence on the blackboard, "segelen ye banajugu ye", means "Guinea worm is a dangerous disease" in the local language Dioula.

The Guinea worm is a parasite that enters the human body when a person drinks stagnant water containing the larvae of the worm. Through many years of education, resulting in changed behaviour, the Guinea worm disease is nearly eradicated and is today endemic in just four African countries, according to Wikipedia. Among those is not Burkina Faso, thanks to lessons like the one I witnessed 28 years ago.

Dioula is a language spoken in parts of Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire). It belongs to the group of Mande languages which are included in the large famliy of Niger-Congo languages (also according to Wikipedia)

This photo is an original b&w, scanned from an Ilford FP4 negative. In a workshop I will show a wider view of the group of women.

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3347 W: 298 N: 6963] (36989)
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