BURKINA FASO: Sister Bernarda Garcia receives award from Manos Unidas for her work with at-risk women in Ouagadougou
(MissionNewswire) Sister Bernarda Garcia, with Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, recently received the “Walking Together” award from Manos Unidas (United Hands), a Spanish international nongovernmental organization for development cooperation. Sr. Garcia was honored for her work with young women in Burkina Faso and her commitment to working with poor youth in Africa for nearly 40 years.
For the first time in the history of the awards, Manos Unidas granted awards in 11 categories which represent the different areas of focus of the organization for the last 60 years. Receiving the award, Sr. Garcia said, “Together we can change the world a little.”
In a presentation at the awards ceremony, Sr. Garcia further added, “You (Manos Unidas) have saved these girls who previously roamed the streets and who are now dignified girls with a dignified life. Thousands of young people will continue to pass through our centers thanks to you, to your sacrifice. Together we can change the world a little, by feeding the hungry, but above all by giving them integral education, the basis of development.”
Sr. Garcia also delivered a batik fabric to Clara Pardo, president of Manos Unidas. The fabric represented the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, a miracle that continues to occur thanks to Manos Unidas. Concluding her speech, Sr. Garcia added, “This award will be given to girls who have become homeless in Abidjan because their homes and businesses have been demolished.”
Sr. Garcia works within a Women’s Center in Kouba, within the capital city of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. The center is operated by the Salesian Daughters of Mary Help of Christians as part of a vast socio-educational project in the region.
The Women’s Center offers apprenticeships and fosters literacy. It was developed to address the precarious situation experienced by many women and young girls, and it provides qualified skills and professional training in sectors such as catering, tailoring, information technology and hairdressing. The project includes courses of literacy, support for work placement, education in values and time management. The main objective of the project is to train girls and women so they can work and earn an income while breaking free from a life of poverty.
Salesian missionaries have been working in Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa, since March 1993. Missionaries first began their work in Bobo-Dioulasso, the second largest city in the country. They settled in a neighborhood known as Ouezzin, an expanding area of the city. The nearby area is crossed by several rivers. On those riverbanks, crops are cultivated then sold in the city and exported to the city of Ouagadougou. Salesian missionaries provide education and social development services designed to create a sense of family among the most vulnerable children and those most at risk of social exclusion.
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in Africa, ranking 185 out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index 2015. According to the World Bank, more than 46 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty on less than $1.25 per day. Burkina Faso has suffered from several serious droughts that have driven up food prices, affecting the country’s food supply and causing malnutrition among the poorest residents and children. Up until the 1980s, the country also dealt with devastating military coups.
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Salesian Missions – Burkina Faso
World Bank – Burkina Faso