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We are celebrating at FAR again because we have just provided bicycles to 5,000 people. Behind each of those 5,000 bikes is a person who has gone through our endless “waiting list,” which can receive more than 1,000 applicants in a single day.
I have been waiting for some time for an event that might provide me the opportunity to comment on the “auctoritas” (the real, although not legal power) of Burkinabé society’s traditional leaders. Today, one of the women beneficiaries of the FAR vegetable garden was expelled from the neighborhood for adultery, opening the door to this new post.
Following a recent case involving the sexual abuse of one of the girls in FAR’s “education for unschooled girls” project (the third… that we know of…), I discover “Out of the Shadows”, a 2020 report on child sexual abuse and exploitation by The Economist Intelligence Unit, which ranks Burkina 59th (alongside Pakistan) of the 60 countries ranked.
I had planned a juicy first post of the year about the microcredit project that we have reinitiated, but the coup d’état got in the way, and who wouldn’t be reluctant to write about that? A month after that blow, here you have it. Anyone who thinks that a microcredit is “just” financial assistance should read on… because, far beyond that, a microcredit is a bargaining chip for the status of the Burkinabé woman.
4 a.m. on Sunday, January 23 of the recently debuted year 2022. My sleep is disturbed by what I initially identify as drilling coming from construction on a neighbor’s house. Once fully startled from the REM phase, and after a few seconds sharpening my hearing, I clearly recognize – having heard it before on several occasions – the sound of the bursts of gunfire that set off a military mutiny that has become the 8th coup d’état in the 61 years of Burkina Faso’s “independence”
We are entering the final stretch of the year 2021, which has been anything but easy. The global COVID-19 crisis, again intensified by a new variant apparently resistant to available vaccines, and the expected downturn in global stock markets have been bad enough. This difficult background has been worsened by substantial insecurity in Burkina due to terrorism that has been “in crescendo” throughout the year. In the last six years, terrorism has been responsible for thousands of civilian and military deaths, and has displaced almost 1,500,000 people (7% of the population). Still, Uncle Pepe’s care from “Up There” has been unflagging during this first year without him here with us.
“Learning to read and write allows us to integrate into society, to leave ignorance behind and to improve our daily lives.” This is one of the answers to the end-of-year “satisfaction survey” from one of the women served by the “Mothers’ Literacy” project. It couldn’t sum up any better the greatness of this project, which is much more than teaching numbers and letters!
“I am very sorry to have to share the news that last evening, Amdiatou was admitted to the emergency ward of the hospital, where she passed away during the night. Tests were positive for malaria, which, though still unconfirmed, is the likely cause of death. Although we did not wish for her to leave us so soon, she has passed without suffering and has been happy once again over these last few weeks. Rest in peace
I’ve been short on inspiration for a few weeks. Nothing to be worried about; the accurate diagnosis being the heat of this time of year. Then, on Sunday, May 16, the World Day of Light was celebrated, and as if by magic, and appropriate to the cliché, “I saw the light!”
Organizing the elections for staff delegates always worries me. I’m not quite sure why, as I’ve organized quite a few without significant complications. Perhaps it is because the process involves a timetable of formalities, with meticulous deadlines to meet, or because of the difficulty of finding the candidates themselves. Yet, despite my fears, we have new staff delegates!