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The consequences of the increasing insecurity in Burkina, due to daily terrorist attacks, are becoming dire. More than 2,000 closed schools have left almost 400,000 students on the streets and more than 9,000 teachers without a job this academic year. Added to that are more than 80 closed medical centers, leaving an extensive population of more than 600,000 people unattended and in a precarious healthcare and humanitarian situation, and the massive displacement of more than 500,000 people.
While we were designing one of this year’s new projects, the awareness campaign against FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) – a practice prohibited and penalized in Burkina Faso since 1986 but unfortunately still very active – none of us could have imagined how much impact it would have within 48h after launching it. This has me smiling as I sit at my computer.
We are in the middle of the busy period of granting school and university scholarships for the new academic year. You can imagine the feeling in the air: there is a lot of commotion, meticulously organized, but a lot of commotion nonetheless. There are happy and satisfied faces all-around: on the mothers, on the boys and girls receiving the scholarships, and, of course, on us, who have the privilege to bestow them. But the reason why one mother was four days late to pick up the scholarship for her daughter has triggered an anxiety that I’m having trouble overcoming.
It’s not that at FAR we are alarmists, or repeaters or shocking headlines. We have written and sent hundreds of posts over this past decade with the sole purpose of helping the Friends of Rimkieta make sense of what’s going on over there…
The start of the rainy season, around May or June, marks the beginning of the new tree planting. And like every year, when it’s over, Jacques – the project leader – reports on how it went. I love how he recounts it, with the depth and seriousness with which he works, and that all of us try to apply. I’m sharing it with you today.
The father of a friend of mine passed away a couple of days ago. I want to believe that an autopsy would rule out the reason why he – overnight, without any previous symptoms of illness – was said to have died: a “wak” (evil eye) from a family member with whom he was having a dispute over land-property.
We’ve been dealing with a very, very delicate case for the past few months: that of AK – a girl from our “Education for unschooled girls” project. She was sexually abused by a neighbor who ran the shop where she habitually went to buy the little daily purchases her family needed.
What a couple of weeks! Alyetou, a graduate of the maternelle nursery school and a current scholarship recipient, has suffered a terrible case of dengue that has left her with severe long-term neurological damage. One of our dear university scholarship holders, Ivette, has been diagnosed with glaucoma
On March 8, we ‘celebrate’ International Women’s day. That day, in Burkina, in the year’s 635 days, women are ‘granted the right’ to ‘shelve’ all their problems and responsibilities. The few who can afford it, due to its approximately 15€ cost, will dress with the commemorative and emblematic fabric that is designed every year for the occasion. They´ll go out, sit down at bars with their friends and spend time together; they will even dance… then they will go back home at nightfall, to the same anguish and problems that have been waiting for them all day, and that will accompany them until next year’s eighth of March.
In what we know as the developed world, a bicycle is a sports or leisure equipment. That was the use for which it was invented in 1817 thanks to Baron K. Drais’ ingenuity. But bikes aren’t used for fun or exercise everywhere. Three are places in the world where bicycles are the only possible means of transport.