Chris Basham spent a year in West Africa. The Peace Corps mission trip provided medical assistance and education in small border towns around Diapaga, which is in Burkina Faso.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I will never forget,” said Basham, a 2003 Warren County High School graduate. “Working there was really something I wanted to do. Diapaga was in one of the most remote areas of the country. It is extremely remote. No plumbing. No inside bathrooms. I did have electricity when it worked. It went out all the time.”
Basham says he wanted a remote location after spending two months prior to this trip in India volunteering at two orphanages.
“You really get attached to the kids and they get attached to you,” he said. “It made leaving one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. It was heartbreaking. After that, I knew I really wanted to do some more development work and go from India, which is kind of second world, to something more third world and very, very basic.”
The trip to India ended in February 2012 and he left for Africa that October. In Africa, Basham worked with a host country association that worked in the area’s health centers. Their focus was on family planning, HIV/ AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and education pertaining to those.
“We educated in an effort to increase awareness regarding transmission and how to prevent diseases such a malaria,” said Basham. “There were a lot of superstitions on how people got these diseases, particularly surrounding malaria. A lot of people thought if you ate a green mango you would get malaria.”
When not working in his Peace Corps mission activities, he lent a helping hand in other areas such as offering polio vaccinations and distributing bed nets, which is an effective means of preventing malaria transmission from mosquitos, and creating humorous skits that were educational in nature for people to watch on their cellphones.
“People were starting to get smartphones,” said Basham. “They used their phones to watch videos. I wrote skits about malaria, hygiene and sanitation, and family planning. We filmed the skits and I converted those to be viewed on cellphones. We distributed them in the community. People watched them and shared them with others. They were humorous skits.”
Of the climate, Basham says the hot season starts in March and continues to June and temperatures run from 115 to 130 degrees, while the cool season is 85 degrees during the day and between 50-60 degrees at night.
Most Peace Corps mission trips last two years. However, Basham’s trip was cut short when he fell in January injuring his back and requiring him to return to the states for medical treatment and physical therapy. After treatment, he may be given an opportunity to finish what remains of his two years.
“I will go back, if given the opportunity,” said Basham. “I loved my time there.
Basham was in Warren County last week visiting family and friends.