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God shapes the back for burden. It’s a fact. And we have to thank him for what has been, in sanitary terms, a minimal COVID-19 impact, for whatever reason – there are many hypotheses on the matter (none of them obvious). Unfortunately, what we are not able to avoid, because we are suffering it already, are the collateral damages that, regrettably, will drag the entire sub-Saharan region to its first recession in more than 25 years.
You can’t imagine how much your loving and supportive messages have recharged my energy, after my last post about COVID-19’s arrival to Burkina. Many of you ask me how we are doing. The straightforward answer would be that we are doing fine, because it’s the truth. But if I think about it for a second, I realize that, personally, I spend my days holding my breath, as if that would help what is only just beginning to be over soon
It was inevitable, despite my hope that some kind of divine justice would make this lousy (to put it mildly) virus leave unscathed this continent that suffers so much from other “viruses” – not only those that carry disease. But that didn’t happen.
A few days ago, the news of an alleged terrorist attack at a school in a neighboring quarter of Rimkieta spread panic amongst the parents of the children in our programs. All the parents, that is, except those whose children benefit from the street kids project.
This December 2019 marks the first 15 years of FAR’s presence in Rimkieta. We celebrated in style with our staff and their family (almost 200 people): a beautiful thanksgiving mass – where all of you were present – followed by a feast that finished with a spontaneous dance in which, if you’ll pardon the expression, “we went all out.”
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.