2017 Days 8 & 9

Days 8 and 9
Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 January 2017

Abdoulaye returned to Ouaga with Christiane’s car, and I took the bus to Bobo Dioulasso.

As usual, I was the only non-African on the bus. Bobo is 282 km (175 miles) west of Koudougou; the ride should only take four hours on the well-paved road. But with speed bumps (installed to reduce the mortality rate) and security checks (after the terrorist attack in Ouagadougou in January 2016), it took us 5-1/2 hours—longer than the flight from Paris to Ouaga. Nothing to do but look out the window.

I’m always surprised to see water in this dry land. Lakes are created by catching rainfall from June to September, the rainy season.

In Bobo, I was again put up by Odile and Yves. Odile lives an active humanitarian life, helping about 100 children.

Yves and Odile in January 2016.

The next morning, Dr. Traore came to pick me up. For the last three years, since his retirement from the UN World Health Organization, he has been Director of our Health Fund on a volunteer basis. He offered to drive me around Bobo.

We went to the Ecole Nationale de Sante Publique, a nursing school where we have three beneficiaries—Rokia, Mouniratou and Sonia.

From the left, Mouniratou, Sonia and Rokia.

Rokia with Dr. Traore

Rokia was recommended to us by Odile, who helped her through secondary school. She’s in the second of a three-year program and has excellent grades.

Mouniratou came to us through our sister organization in Brittany, Solidarite. She too is in second year and is doing very well. I did ad hoc interviews in the corridor to catch up with each of them.

Sonia is a special case. We paid her tuition for first year law school, but then she passed a national exam for nursing school and received a full scholarship from the Government. So she dropped law school and began nursing school. She’s on our books for this year, but for the last time.


We went cross town to the Bobo campus of New Dawn University, where Anne-Geraude is enrolled in human resources management. Mosques outnumber churches about 20 to 1.

The New Dawn campus is new and well-tended.

Academic Director Joachim Ouedraogo gave us a positive report of Anne Geraude’s first months.

We then found a quiet corner to talk one-on-one. She is a member of the English Club and next year her courses will be bi-lingual. The English Club organizes summer vacation trips to Ghana; she wants to go!

Whoa! One thing at the time. She told us she lives 17 km (11 miles) from the campus. She walks four km on a dirt road to the paved road, where she meets a girlfriend with a motorbike who takes her the rest of the way. I made another executive decision—we’ll up her funding to buy a bicycle for the dirt road and pay half the gas costs for the girlfriend. We’ll decide on Ghana another time.

I had lunch with Dr. Traore to discuss our Health Fund. A three-year grant from the UN Women’s Guild in Geneva just ran out. We financed four major surgeries in 2016—a breast tumour, ovarian cysts, a leg injury and Marie-Therese’s intestinal tumour. I couldn’t imagine giving up the Fund. We decided to continue it out of our regular budget.

On the drive back to Odile’s, we passed the Bobo rail station—I love it.

I found Odile on her enclosed terrace tutoring some kids.

Her home town in France is Montpelier. For the past 30 years, she’s been with an association that collects things in Montpelier and sends them to Burkina. The volume of stuff that passes through her home required her and Yves to build a small garage to stock the aid.

She drove me to the museum, taking the kids along with her. They had never seen a museum before.

A guide who knew her well greeted us at the door.

This mask from the Bamba people in the Dedougou region represents a crocodile.

In a new display case financed by Odile’s efforts is a string of beads for following the menstrual cycle.

Out in the yard, there were reconstructions of different styles of traditional homes. This mud house had two floors; you can descend from an upper terrace to ground level by this ladder.

I can do this.

The guide walked us down to a stream.

The kids were fascinated by the sacred fish.

Things got even more exotic in the sculpture garden of Sidikiba, who wasn’t there but whose tools were at the ready.

A surreal landscape of wooden sculpture.

We also met Kalifa Dembele-Seydou, who makes traditional musical instruments. He let the kids try them out.

That was the end of our first full day in Bobo.


Email: info@chanceforchangecharity.org