Hello to you all! It's been a rewarding year thanks to the interest and help of so many of you! FITIL and ACLEM (ASSOCIATION POUR UN LENDEMAIN MELLEUR), our local partner, began work in 2014 in the comunes of KORDIE of the ethnic group GOURENSI and SAMBA of the ethnic group MOSSI : 10 kilometres one from the other. We held a meeting in each commune with village representatives of each of the 43 villages of these communes: – in Kordie and – of Samba, and asked each of them to tell us of a principle need in each village: projects which we could work with. Each one sent us a request. These included building mills to grind grain, major repairs on closed wells, solar panels for schools, fencing for women's garden projects etc. THIS YEAR FITIL/ACLEM HAS COMPLETED THE REQUESTS FROM ALL THE VILLAGES... and NOW WE BEGIN A SECOND ROUND !!
This is of course apart from our projects with the communes themselves. We sponsor 80 students for 4 years of middle school in each commune, sponsor a vocational training school CBNF, long distance adoption, birth certificates for women, football for girls and many other projects.
This all began about 4 years ago at a meeting with the parents of our sponsored students of the Commune of Kordie when they suggested building a community centre. They would make the bricks and construct the building and FITIL/ACLEM would supply the roof, doors, windows etc. It took quite awhile before this marvelous idea was translated into action but it was finally completed last year. In the meantime, the commune of Samba got wind of Kordie's idea and quickly built a centre as well. These two centres are now up and running with equipment such as projectors and many programs organised by teachers and others from both the central commune and the villages. These have generated so much enthusiasm and are much used by the entire community. There are also two libraries which we are in the process of equiping and are in contact with various organisations interested in this. We have also appointed a librarian for each centre. Each library is a reference centre for agriculture, water, scholastic interests,art, dance, music, novels. Many students, teachers and others have given us lists of books they would like to see in the libraries. The centres have caused a lot of interest. Some teachers and others of the community have volunteered to give classes in art, theatre, dance, music etc.
A small example of community participation and enthusiasm: Just before Christmas I arrived to spend the holidays in Kordie at the house of our coordinator with my daughter, her partner, their child and a friend. On our arrival we were greeted by a troup of traditional dancers, painted and in costume, with accompanying musicians, all organised by a local teacher. In the process we were all invited, one by one, by the dancers to participate with them!! Later, when the video of us dancing(or trying to) was shown to our students, it provoked much prolonged (and justified) hilarity!
In the past years we have been contacted by 4 women's groups and have been working with 3 of them. Our first contacts and interactions seemed strong but over time none of the three of them have lived up to their initial promise. This year we have talked in depth to them all and they have told us various difficulties which range from having a dynamic leader go to study in Ouagadougou leaving them with no one who was literate to having grand ideas but in the end no firm abilities of how to translate them into realities. ACLEM (Fitil's partner in Burkina) has now appointed an educated woman from the community to work as trouble shooter with each group, helping them to find solutions and to realise their initial plans.
We are continuing to work with Action Sociale on their project with women accused of being witches (Mangeuses d'ames) These women are accused and after various “tests” exiled from their villages under the worst possible conditions. They often make their way to various Catholic refuges in the biggest cities. Action Sociale has been running a campaign for more than a year to educate the village populations against this brutal practice. They have had some success but have also met with strong opposition in some villages. This year they are begining to create centres where these women can go and be reintroduced to a normal type of life and a means of supporting themselves. A personal friend of mine was accused more than a year ago, though the village has now changed their idea and asked her to come back. She has refused and FITIL/ACLEM is helping her begin a new life by putting doors and windows and a roof in the house her brother has built for her..also lending her money to begin a small business enterprise.
In late Febrary of 2018, Mary Angela Schroth, director of the Gallery Sala Uno of Rome, organised for the second time a show and auction of artists works to be sold for the benefit of FITIL/ACLEM!. 43 artist participated and Mary Angela organised fabulous opening and closing events. A great success with many wonderful artists participating. A big, big thank you to them all. These are only some highlights of what we have been doing. If you have any questions or comments, we would love to hear from you.