Hello Community, LIFE
WANPOT has created a crowds funding for our project to make a big impact at the community and national level. We have pooled our resources and still have some ways to go. LIFE is an educational program that will inform girls and teachers in various life skill matters such as gender violence, and sexual reproduction health. However we have a peace building curriculum and after school activities that include clubs and the arts. All activities are for social and cultural building. The link for further information is: http://gogetfunding.com/project/life-3
I remember in my village and many other places where poverty exists (even in United States) people say a phrase that has now come to haunt me…”il n’y a pas l’argent” Translated: there is not any money. My village during my 2 years of Peace Corps service was in Tchériba 184 km west of the nation’s capital Ouagadougou. People dreamed of just being able to have the chance at money. They dreamed of how much better their lives would be with money. They discussed how all these material things would make their lives better and how small measures of development would improve their lives 10-fold. From lack luster to Luck lester
Well that day has finally come for the almost 12,000 residents of the village of Tchériba. In 2011 a village between 10-15 km from Tchériba was surveillance and gold was discovered. Once news of this broke out every day I heard people saying that soon gold will be discovered in Tchériba, Burkina Faso. Well they were right. Earlier in 2012 gold was indeed discovered in an environmentally protected forest in the village of Tchériba. Since then all those dreams of not living in abject poverty have deceased. People by the hundreds including children and women, even handicapped persons hike their way to the forest at night (the guards survey during the morning and day- it is illegal to dig etc. in protected forests) to dig tirelessly for the precious metal-GOLD! Some people have been lucky where they have found up to 20, 000 USD worth of gold. Can you imagine what 20,000 dollars translates to, to someone that gets by on 1 dollar if that a day. To put in clearer perspective, in Burkina Faso the currency is the CFA. Therefore 20 thousand USD becomes a jackpot of 10,236,690.42 CFA. What is someone to do with that kind of money? Piece of mind in the form of Gold
Well this is what people do when their prayers of money are answered. It is a scene of chaos. It is development gone wrong where children are no longer in class because they are attracted to the fast money of gold, high school aged girls have higher paying clients for prostitution, store owners can increase the prices of goods by 4 times as much. A plastic bag of water used to cost 25 cfa now costs 100. Due to the gold rush there are many visitors from neighboring countries such as Ghana, Benin, and Togo. The environment can not hold the share volume of people. This means filth in the form of human waste and manmade waste has tripled. Disease is more “abundant” as there is no running water in this village nor are there sufficient latrines. Moreover, even if there were sufficient number of latrines people are not disciplined enough nor trained to use the latrine. They are conditioned to relieve themselves anywhere in nature. This gold rush as increased and added to the slew of socioeconomic problems not to mention added health and hygiene risks. There is the introduction of high profile prostitution, drug and alcohol addiction, the eventual collapse of work and organizations. The heath risks are no lesser, with the inhalation of dust and amateur handling of chemicals the population is vulnerable to bronchitis, skin diseases, asthma, and other diseases that affect the lungs and heart. Because people are mining for gold in the darkness of the forest, they are susceptible to snake bites and scorpions. In addition there is the socio- cultural aspect of the “Great African Gold Rush.” People can now “afford” the “finer” things of life such as motos and cell phones. With that comes increased theft. Crime and violence have doubled in just a short few months. Crime against women and children are also on the increase with rape and other physical violence on the rise. Children and Gold
My parents always say be careful what you pray for. People in this village always cried about not having money as the reason they couldn’t send kids to school, feed their families, and progress. However, since the gold rush the exact opposite has occurred; with school enrollment at the lowest point in 5 years. The ones that have found gold have used their newfound wealth for everything other than sustainable progression and development. What they have prayed for has arrived and with the high rates of illiteracy, not many know how to use this to their sustainable benefit. Rushing to gold, Killing to mine
I guess the moral of the story is (or one of the morals) you can’t wait for money to do something. In this village just picking up trash and putting your own trash in a waste bin was impossible. They would tell me since there is no money the government has not sent anyone to collect trash. Meanwhile that has nothing to do with each person throwing their trash in an identified place rather than anywhere in nature. Now what is worse is that strangers from other countries come and support the same behavior because if you don’t respect your own house than how can you oblige someone else to?
Posted in Upcoming Projects
Tagged benefit, benin, Burkina Faso, cell phones, children, crime, culture, development, disease, drugs, education, ghana, gold, government, health, high school, hygiene, illiteracy, latrine, money, people, poverty, prostitution, rape, sustainable, togo, trash, village, wealth, west africa
A great association which I had the pleasure to work with briefly last August 2011 approached me to help them launch a camp for teenagers. This concept of the camp is created by the Association of Jeunesse en Mouvement. They are a local NGO that specializes in youth and mobilizing youth and communities. Last year they started a pilot program in which they had Burkinabé and French volunteers run a camp in a village 1 hour and 30 minutes from Ouagadougou. They invited me to watch, participate, and contribute ideas. The camp was with primary school students boys and girls between the ages of 7-12. Students had lesson in the morning from 8 am – 12 pm. While in class they learned the phonics of French, math, and science. From 12- 2 pm there would be the break for lunch and rest. 2:30 – 5 pm there would be outdoor games that promoted teamwork, and imagination. From 5- 7:30 pm there was the dinner and break. At 7:45 pm until 10 pm at night the students and the volunteers would do cultural exchanges showing dances, and singing songs from french and burkinabé culture. Since I was the only American I of course did an exchange of American folk songs and primary school games. During the evening sessions there would also be the playing of instruments, and exchange of folklore. The kids were never tired and loved participating. This was a big step for this village as typically children are sent to help out in the farms during the summer. They have to help their families cultivate as what they farm is what they live off of. For a village to allow their children the future of the country participate in enrichment and extra curriculum activities is a great example of how Africans are ready to make the change and invest.
This June the founder of Association of Jeuness Gaspard Ouédrogou asked me to help him launch the same summer camp, however targeting teenagers between 14-19. I quickly accepted. The summer camp will provide only topics and activities the community identified as a need to have. Therefore, the teens will participate in tree plantings, health awareness campaigns, and classes. With my experience with youth, Gaspard told me that he could not think of any one better to help with this initiative. My first task is to recruit girls and boys to participate. The camp is from August 2- 17 2012 In the following locations Basnéré, Dahisma, Tangassogo, and Niangado. These are all villages of Kaya (a city 1 hour 30 mins from Ouagadougou.
Thank you Gaspard for the invite.
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