BURKINA FASO/FRANCE: Salesian Students Facilitate Projects Helping Poor Youth in Burkina Faso
(MissionNewswire) For the last 10 years, students at Costa de Beauregard, a Salesian High School in Chambéry, France, have worked in partnership with Salesian Sisters in Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa. A project was initiated by the French students in 2005 with the goal of helping poor youth and their families from disadvantaged backgrounds in Burkina Faso. Since then, many projects have been launched by the students to directly impact those living in poverty in the country.
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in Africa, ranking 183 out of 186 countries on the Human Development Index 2013. According to the World Bank, more than 46 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty on less than USD 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.
One of the first projects initiated by the Costa De Beauregard students was a fundraising initiative to raise awareness of the food shortages in Burkina Faso and address the nutritional needs of its people. The students collaborated with Salesian Sisters at the Little Sisters of Holy Childhood based in Bobo Dioulasso, the second largest city in Burkina Faso.
“Projects like these between Salesian students in France and the community in Burkina Faso, provide opportunities for our students to pay it forward and apply the skills they are learning,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Our students have so much to offer the world. Creating these initiatives is a win-win for both the students and the recipients.”
In 2007 and 2008, the French students took two trips to Burkina Faso and met with Sister Therese of the Little Sisters of Holy Childhood to learn more about the country, its people and the needs of its poor. At that time, the Salesian Sisters were buying seven acres of land and, with the help of Costa de Beauregard students who had participated in a horticultural program, agricultural operations began on the new acreage, providing a sustainable source of nutrition for the local community.
The Salesian students’ collaboration with the Little Sisters of Holy Childhood in Burkina Faso has since been formalized to create the Bocage Foundation. In 2010, three of the students representing the foundation decided to start a training college in the city of Bobo Dioulasso to help increase the skills and employ-ability of local Burkina Faso youth. Despite a difficult geopolitical situation in the country, the foundation is also working to create a water distribution network in collaboration with Plumbers without Borders to aid the development of a reception center for young people at risk in Bobo Dioulassoa. For this project, the Bocage Foundation has recently committed to drill a 140 foot well and construct a water well enclosure.
Access to water is essential in Burkina Faso as women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the majority of households. Children in these communities are forced to walk for hours to collect drinking water—water that often proves contaminated and seriously sickens those who consume it. Many others are unable to attend school regularly because they must spend time searching for distant wells.
“The activities of this foundation, along with the work of Salesian missionaries around the globe, is helping to ensure communities have access to clean water for drinking and agriculture. Salesian missionaries are always looking to expand their services to meet the needs of the poor youth and families they serve,” adds Fr. Hyde.
World Bank – Burkina Faso Poverty