January 31st, 2024

Burkina Faso: Hope Amidst Hardship

A Glimpse into Burkina Faso’s Spirit Amidst Adversity

Danny Morris, the Executive Director of International Needs UK, reflects on his trip to Burkina Faso at the start of 2024. The British government advises against all travel there (apart from travel to the capital, Ouagadougou) as the security situation remains volatile after deteriorating significantly following the military coup on 30 September 2022.

Danny ventured to Bobo-Dioulasso, located 220 miles from the capital, to connect with our partners and friends. “It was lovely to be back with the team,” says Danny. “Although it has been five years since my last visit to Burkina Faso, the warmth and friendship of the people is just as great.” Acknowledging the challenging times faced by our partners, Danny notes, “The family are reeling from the loss of Dieudonné, a beloved son, father, brother, and husband. Yet, they are carrying on so well with the work.”

Dieudonné’s brother, daughter, son and sister, Tabita.

“Burkina is currently suffering from the worst crisis of terror since International Needs started working with them. Islamist terrorists are murdering people in villages and churches who are going about their daily business in rural areas. They escape to Bobo in to find protection provided by government forces,” explains Danny.

Danny met many individuals who shared their personal stories with him. One of these stories was told by a pastor. “The pastor lost 26 of his congregation, they were murdered as they were trying to leave their area. This included his son.”

A pastor speaks about his traumatic experience of loss, including his own son

The distressing circumstances faced by internally displaced people were made so real for Danny as he listened to their stories. He describes a particular snapshot of three women he met who were found sleeping outside the International Needs medical centre in Bobo. “These three women all fled after their husbands and children were attacked, they ran so hard that one lady is now unable to walk properly.”

The three ladies found sleeping outside the medical centre (pictured second from the left, and two on the right)

A few years before, trees had been planted around the medical centre which has created a shaded canopy for locals waiting for treatment, which is where the three ladies had been found sleeping. The medical centre was built in 2009 and the maternity unit added in 2017. Owing to the increase in people fleeing to Bobo it treated 49,000 people last year, an increase of 58%. “In 2022, 1,398 babies were born healthy and safely delivered in our maternity unit with a team of nurses and extremely skilled midwives like those on the right,” says Danny. “Maternal mortality rates are extremely high in Burkina Faso, so this resource is a lifesaver for thousands of mothers.”

The medical centre

During his visit to La Bonne Nouvelle school, Danny had said to IN Burkina Faso prior that he was hoping not to disturb the students who have been studying hard for their exams. In true Burkina Faso fashion, however, Danny was instead greeted by over 750 children cheering and waving. “As we entered each classroom there were many dreams shared of those studying to become engineers, medics, midwives, policewomen or soldiers.”

A warm welcome: students at La Bonne Nouvelle

Highlighting the impact of International Needs, Danny mentions that 300 children at La Bonne Nouvelle school, who fled violence in the countryside, have found peace, restoration, and a conducive learning environment. “For those deeply traumatised by the shocking events that have happened to them, or to people they love,” says Danny, “we have been able to provide trauma counselling and therapeutic activities to bring some peace to them, re-establish their lives and help them learn.”

Ladies dancing at church

Another aspect of Danny’s trip that must be immortalised in text is his visit to the local church. “Church in Burkina is always fun, even exciting, and full of joy.” Danny describes pictures he took of a group of ladies dancing during the service. “Here these ladies are worshipping with song and dance as they celebrate the goodness of God in their lives.”

What strikes Danny is just how vividly real faith is for those he has met in Burkina. “Faith is so important to these people, and it shows through their devotion,” he shares.