First trip to Burkina in 2012.
The mood on this trip is first sadness. We have been following and trying to help (mainly Eugénie) the health problem of a person close to us. We are now here and it is to find out that Arnaud(42) only has weeks to live. Two months ago, from The Netherlands with the bit of information we had, it was already clear that the cancer was too advanced to be cured, especially with the available therapy in Burkina Faso. What is really frustrating is the arrogance and the incompetence of some of the medical doctors here. We knew that it was difficult to find a doctor, so you cannot be choosy if you find one. Unfortunately it looks that it is better not to see the doctor than to see some of them. When one of those doctors is a “professor”, chef de Clinique and teacher of young doctors it is even worse. A lot of people we talked to know about this “incompetent” doctor, but nobody does anything about it. Anyway thanks to think about Arnaud and his family.
Eugénie is fully involved in helping Lydie and Arnaud and their 5 children (3 of their own and 2 from a deceased brother). By keeping busy with the ASAP activities I can balance the sadness with hope. May be one day some of the scholarship holders will be doctors who do not think that they are gods, but just normal people helping others?
First some general news about Burkina at the beginning of this year. The main news is that the chief custom officer was arrested for corruption. If you still remember, in April 2011 there was trouble with the army. They were braking into houses of important people. The chief custom officer thought it was better to transfer some trunks to a family house in the suburb of Ouagadougou. After a few months, his children living in this house decided to look into the trunks. Since there was a lot of cash, they started to spend it in the street doing crazy things which caught the attention of the police. They made a search of the house and found the trunks filled with worth over 7 million euro!!!! This was in cash, gold, valuable objects… This cash was coming from the corruption between the customs and large traders. The traders do not pay the import duties against cash in the pocket of the officers. Some of this cash is also used by the president to finance his election campaign. Some of the cash was still in envelopes with the names of the person who had given it!!!! This is probably only one example of many. Better stay away from the officials and hope you do not need them for something. This situation of corruption is becoming more and more a subject of discussion between Burkinabé. The government has to do something if it wants to avoid major unrest. I am afraid that it still does not have the will to do so.
Let's get back to things more positive. There are some. At least in our activities. This week we made 2 trips out of Bobo. The first one was to the LAP (secondary agricultural school) which we have opened in October 2011 with 70 students. Since the opening, we have completed some additional buildings on the school grounds: vegetable garden, hen house and a pigsty. The first grades have come out. It shows a clear relationship between children in their own family and children staying with a tutor: better for children in their own family. The living conditions for students with tutors are not very good: space, food, light to study at night… This makes us think very hard about opening a “foyer, a place where the students could have full board. The children look happy to be at the school and are motivated to learn.
The other visit we made was with the village of Fina. This is the first village where we started our projects in Burkina and we had stopped to work with them for 8 years. The main reason was a problem of bad leadership (corrupted). We have gone back slowly to the village and have seen some major improvement in the leaders. This visit was just to have some contact with the population and to clarify a situation between the men and the women. We had offered micro credits to the women and the men were not in agreement. Since the men still owe funds to ASAP from old credits, they did not want the women to take a commitment which they thought they could not meet. Before our visit, they had sorted out the difficulty between them and we received a list of 283 women who wish to have a small credit. We will give them a credit of 15 euro per woman for a period of 1 year with a 7% interest rate. This brings the total number of women with credit to close to 2.000 in the 10 villages we support. The interesting part is that we have 100% pay back since we started in 2003.
We asked them what does the village miss the most and they agree that work for the young adults during the dry season was the main problem of the village. Farmers here work 7 to 8 months of the year since there is only one rainy season. This is a problem in all villages. We have not found a solution for this problem yet.
The village chief then asks us: “What do you want from us?”. We told them that what we wanted is better leaders, more children in school, better care of their infrastructure, transparency in all their dealings.
A new pump was installed on this well which was not working for at least 5 years. The previous pump was from a model which needed a lot of maintenance and the villagers were tired to spend money for a pump whi
ch worked only two weeks before failing again. This “blue pump” is made in NL and was financed by the Fairwater foundation.
“Lorsque quelqu'un te blesse, tu devrais l'écrire sur le sable afin que le vent l'efface de ta mémoire mais lorsque quelqu'un fait quelque chose de bon pour toi, tu dois l'écrire sur la pierre afin que le vent ne l'efface jamais.”
“When somebody hurts you, you should write it in the sand so that the wind erases it from your memory but when somebody does something good for you, you must write it on stone so that the wind does not erase it ever.”
I hope that you are all well.
Have a good week.