2019 Day 1

Day 1: 9 January 2019

Christiane, Christine, Adissa, Josiane, Jeanne, Ursula, Haoua


It was comforting to return to Le Karite Bleu (Blue Shea Nut Tree) auberge. This is my eighth year, I think. The garden was so peaceful, dominated by the tall sculpture of a gold crested crane (of which there are two wild ones on the property).

Christiane, who handles our affairs here as a volunteer, once again loaned us her company car and driver. Abdoulaye picked me up at the airport and came around nice and early this morning to start our charged program. He got married last year and told me his wife is now six months pregnant. I gave him a bottle of Chanel for her as a gift, bought with my own money, of course.

Abdoulaye drove us out to the futuristic, half-developed neighborhood called Ouaga 2000. The President lives here, most embassies have moved here and Christiane has her offices here, shared with her husband who is a noted lawyer.

Christiane gives us office space here, where Christine, our only salaried employee, works five days a week.

I brought presents with me, as I do every year (paid by me)—a lovely leather satchel for Christian that perfectly matches her handbag, and a wallet for Christine.

Christiane is my anchor; I couldn’t do without her. She is a Managing Consultant who works for us for free, writing checks, balancing the books, sending us monthly reports and bank statements, all with the help of Christine.

After a full morning of consultations, during which we decided to raise Christine’s salary and turn her from a consultant to a full-time employee with benefits, I left to visit the UN offices. We passed a huge mosque under construction, financed by a Burkinabé billionaire, who died recently, and his children are continuing the project. Burkina Faso is about 60% Muslim.

I first stopped in to see Modest Yameogo, a friend who, during the week, is communications director for UNICEF, and on weekends is a tradition chief, or Naba. He was optimistic about the country, saying the terrorist attacks would eventually die out. “We shall overcome,” he said to me in English.

In the afternoon, we visited Adissa, the first of our candidates for aid in the school year 2019-20. She might want to study marketing. I had her fill out a “Declaration of Interest” form.

She is a Muslim whose father died ten years ago. Her mother lives in Koudougou and she stays with an uncle and aunt here in Ouagadougou. 13 people live in this modest house.

Adissa shares this bedroom with five siblings.

We visited her secondary school, which is private and non-sectarian. We spoke with the Director, who encouraged us to help Adissa.

From there, we crossed town to visit Josiane. We supported her for three years through a Licence diploma in law. We now offered her a loan to go on for a Master’s. This is a new policy; we feel that Master’s study eats up too much revenue but has a greater yield in salary potential. This year, we started asking our Master’s candidates to pay back their loan, once they earn a salary, so that other girls could be helped. Josiane seemed to understand.

We wanted to be sure she is housed safely. She shared this two-room flat with a roommate. There are ten apartments in a row, a sturdy door to the courtyard that is locked and a guardian on duty each night. The rent is 25,000 f CFA (38€) a month, divided by two, and is about 10 km from her university. She gets a ride on her roommate’s motorbike. She showed us the bedroom…

…and the living room/kitchen.

I returned to the hotel/auberge to meet with Jeanne d’Arc, whom we helped get a job with the Department of Education. On her modest salary, she was supporting a younger brother and a younger sister get an education. I told her we could help with her sister, which we are doing this year. Jeanne has had polio since age of 1 and is badly crippled. But she’s always smiling. Both siblings finish their studies this year. I asked her what she plans to do now, and she replied, “I’m going to start taking care of myself.” Bravo.

Then Ursula stopped by the hotel. We’ve supported her for three years for a Licence diploma in translation and interpretation. She is applying for a Master’s program in same at the University of Ouagadougou. About 500 take the application test and only ten are accepted. I told her she needs a Plan B. I suggested she apply to the University of Geneva, one of the world’s best interpretation schools. She said she would give it a go.

Then Anne arrived on a flight from Paris. She is one of the new generation of leaders I recruited in Geneva this summer when I set up the Burkina Women’s Education Fund (Geneva), the third association after France and the US. Haoua came by and we discussed a project she has put together concerning a rural agricultural initiative involving a women’s cooperative. We supported Haoua through a Licence degree in Project Development, but she’s been working as an accountant to pay the rent. We’re eager to see her get funding for this project. Anyone want to see the proposal?

Haoua was the first of our Master’s degree students to successfully defend her thesis. We think she deserves support.

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Email: info@chanceforchangecharity.org