BURKINA FASO — With approximately 18 million inhabitants, 45 percent of Burkina Faso’s population lives on $1.25 a day. Envision empowers Burkina Faso’s poor, teaching English and helping build their communities.
As one of the top five poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso has inadequate infrastructure and educational services which impede economic development and quality living. Envision, a ministry of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, gives equal opportunity to those in the most vulnerable areas. The ministry takes short term teams from the U.S. to Burkina Faso, innovating and strengthening communities.
Tori Gallaway, a junior at Nyack College interned at Envision this summer for three months. During her time in Burkina Faso, Envision built hangars and distributed handicap trikes. Their team also taught English classes and started a one-year school tuition scholarship program for children.
While access to education and enrollment rate has improved in the last years, the youth literacy rate is 28.7 percent as of 2010. Envision empowers Burkina Faso’s poor with its tuition scholarship program, sponsoring 200 children for school next year.
“They [the Burkinabe]work any job they can find and they highly value education. So many people can’t go to school since they can’t afford it… I am in college, which is something only a very small fraction of the Burkinabe experience, so I have learned that I need to value my education more,” says Gallaway.
Pan Bila: Women’s Home for Girls
Gallaway visited Pan Bila, a women’s home for girls who have been sex trafficked or raped. Since Burkina Faso is a source and destination for sex trafficking, many women and children do not have the opportunity to earn an education. Envision empowers Burkina Faso’s poor by supporting struggling women and their families. By and large, most families can only afford to send one child to school, hoping their child will have a good job someday and support the family.
Gallaway remembers a girl chosen to go to school now living in the women’s home:
“The tutor raped her and she got pregnant… She had her child and started working at a restaurant, where one of the customers took advantage of her and she got pregnant again. She ended up at Pan Bila, where she will be cared for and taught different life skills so she will be able to support herself and her two children.”
As a low-income, landlocked country, Burkina Faso has limited opportunities for economic and social development. Ninety percent of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture, yet production remains unreliable. Harsh climatic conditions, fluctuations in the prices for exportation, and political instability hamper international trade and export diversification.
Developing Life Skills
“Many people believe that if they can make it to America or partner with an American business, then things would be better. But what the Burkinabe need is the opportunity to learn and use their skills they already have to create businesses and make money,” says Gallaway. According to Gallaway, Burkina Faso’s long history of corrupt presidencies have not provided the Burkinabe opportunities or freedom to cultivate their knowledge and grow skills; as of yet, they have not lost hope.
“I have learned that I need to be more thankful for the things I have,” says Gallaway, “They are more thankful for the things they have. When we give gifts, they are so thankful but they feel as if they need to return the favor and they always give us something too.”
With about 65 site workers serving around the world and in the U.S., Envision helps the poor by growing leadership and development in key communities. Envision’s work in Burkina Faso has paved way for economic stimulation and personal growth.
Overall, Envision empowers Burkina Faso’s poor by giving children access to education, encouraging poverty-stricken families and uplifting women.
– Sarah Dunlap