2017 Days 17 & 18

Thursday 26 and Friday 27 January 2017

This morning we headed off to a pilot school called Nonghen, where a member of Christian’s association of university women teaches. For five years now, we’ve facilitated an exchange between students in Burkina Faso and those in a middle school in our French village. The Director of the school in Ouaga, Jean-Pierre, retired last August, so we struck up a relationship with a different school this year. Nonghen received aid from Saudi Arabia, which is reflected in the style of the administration building.

Armata, the teacher (left), introduced us to her principal, The?re?se Noba-Kola.

Here there are less than 40 students to a class, and courses are taught in two languages, French and Moore?, the language of the majority Mossi ethnic group.

I used to teach kids this age when I was about 26 years old. It was all coming back to me now.

Armata thought I performed like a champ.

I passed on a proposal from Gwenola, the Middle School teacher in our village, that each class do a report on their country, explaining what is special about it. Armata was cool with that.

We then picked up Ursula and went to the US Embassy, where we met communications director Brenda Soya. Brenda administers the Fulbright program for the Embassy, and for the first time in seven years I have a candidate—Ursula. She’s studying English/French interpretation. Brenda informed us that they get about 500 applicants a year from Burkina Faso, and only three to five get a fellowship, which incudes all expenses paid for two years of graduate study in the US. To help Ursula polish her English, I’ve asked some friends in Ghana to find her a family that she might live with this summer. (No photos allowed in or around the Embassy. Sorry.)

Friday, we started out early to visit an employment agency. He?le?ne, one of our first two beneficiaries, has finished her Master’s study in accounting and is on the job market. She has left her resume? with two agencies. I was curious and asked her to bring me to them. The first was Resources Humaines Afrique, headed by a Frenchman, Jean-Louis Serre-Combe, with 35 years experience in recruitment.

Jean-Louis Serre-Combe, right, and his assistant.

Jean-Louis explained that it costs nothing to leave a resume?. The employer pays him to find suitable candidates. There are jobs to be had, he insisted, though they may be hard to find.

The second agency was Consult Service Synergie Burkina, run by a Burkina woman.

I noticed the word “Formation” (Training) on their billboard. The President of the company was not in, but her staff were helpful and happy to meet with us. Yes, they do training—how to write a resume, how to conducte yourself in an interview. I asked if they would provide free training to our beneficiaries. “Of course,” was the reply. This was opening a whole new front in our efforts to help our people find jobs.

With me were Christine, left, and He?le?ne, foreground, meeting with the staff of CS.

I thanked He?le?ne for the tip, then headed off to UN headquarters to see Modeste, the communications director for UNICEF. I always enjoy talking to him. He is also the traditional Chief of Issouka, one of five such chiefdoms in Koudougou—a kind of weekend job.

Christine, left, accompanied me to meet with Modeste.

In the afternoon, I went to see Jacqueline. She rents an aprtment with a roommate, something we consider very risky. But we have confidence in her. She is finishing a Master’s degree in environment and sustainable development this year. Her apartment bloc is behind a secure gate.

She invited us in.

Her roommate wasn’t in. They cook on gas. The front room was tidy…

…as was the shared bedroom.

I think Jacqueline is going to make it.

The last stop was at Ine?s’s home. She is our only journalism student, and last year finished a 1-year Master’s degree with a respectable average of 12.02. She showed me her diploma—honorable mention.

She’s married a pharmacist, Pascal, and they have a four-month-old son, Melvin Nathan.

I gave Melvin Nathan a copy of Georgie Badiel’s book. He showed polite interest.

I think we have eight babies now; I’ve lost count. But my hope is that Ine?s won’t be satisfied with her nice home with television and stereo and will pursue a career. I hear that there are job openings in communication; she’s smart enough to get one. We said good-bye.




Email: info@chanceforchangecharity.org