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Mission Report – October/November 2009

Four enthusiastic members of the HAMAP EDUCATION team arrived at Koudougou on October 21 2009. The primary focus of their mission was a campaign to prevent malaria, but they were also in the country to partner Camelia Burkina in improving literacy, hygiene and health in the village of Gundi. One of the two directors of HAMAP EDUCATION joined them on October 27, with the objectives of:

* participating in the campaign to prevent malaria,
* making contact with the relevant local and state authorities, and international organizations,
* ascertaining what authorization was necessary for HAMAP EDUCATION to operate in the area, and obtaining that authorization.

The campaign to prevent malaria, which took place under the auspices of Jean-Jacques Cruchant, went well. This is his report on it:

In the course of the mission, the Preventative Healthcare wing of <b<HAMAP EDUCATION succeeded, as we had hoped, in conducting a campaign to raise awareness of malaria.

The target area was the Goundi region alongside Koudougou. In this area alone, we had contact with some 1500 schoolchildren, 22 teachers and 4 headteachers.
A short lesson was delivered, structured primarily around dialogue with pupils. This allowed us to present simple facts about malaria: what causes it, and how it can be prevented and treated.

Our cartoon reinforced the points that emerged in discussion, and showed pupils what they needed to remember. We involved them further by asking every group to draw their own illustration of the key points, once the lesson was over. This made the awareness campaign more fun for them, and the schoolchildren always went about the task with great enthusiasm. Every class received laminated A3 copies of our cartoon.
All the schools that we visited are going to put on plays about malaria next February. The best play will receive the 2010 HAMAP HEALTHCARE PREVENTION prize: 100 000 CFA francs towards the purchase of school equipment for the winning institution. Musical interludes and local dances will add extra appeal to the performances, which will take place on market day, to make it easier for parents to attend and so raise awareness of malaria still further. As a result, malaria should be a topic for discussion in both schools and families for several months.
Monsieur Seydou K. Zagre, the Mayor of Koudougou, was very interested in our initiative, as was Monsieur Patrice A. Combary, the Regional Director for Healthcare in the Centre-West.
Some timely awareness-raising on the subject of malaria also took place in the Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres (CREN), orphanages and religious communities of Boulsen, Kokologo and Koudougou.
HAMAP provided our partner-association Camélia Burkina with new artemisinin-based combination drugs to fight malaria. These will be used, in particular, to treat small children with the disease.

Cathy Flament showed mothers the benefits of preventative healthcare and hygiene by bathing children, lovingly, herself, and washing heads that were often riddled with ringworm.

Louisette Le Fers, Marie Line Fernandez and Nadine Estelle helped children at the Camélia Burkina school with their lessons. This school opened on the 26 October, and there are local teachers to take the classes. Standards vary wildly between pupils, and members of HAMAP were able to give some timely assistance by spending time with the children in greatest difficulty.
A partnership has been set up between this school and a school in the French city of La Ciotat, whose pupils sent pictures, messages and drawings. In return, pupils at the Camélia Burkina school did some magnificent drawings for their friends in France. HAMAP is the link between the two instutions.

Clothes and books donated by parents of children at Le Beausset school were distributed.

The married men of Gundi took on their single counterparts in a football match that saw both teams wearing kit donated last February. The married men were the victors!

The mission team also spent a day in Boulsen where a project to create a street school is under way. The Naaba Koom was waiting for us, and received us with full ceremony. He asked us, as we had agreed, to finance the final building works at the school. At Louisette’s request, he telephoned different suppliers on the spot, and gave us a quote for the works. He then recommended a local man to serve as teacher at the school. The latter will be trained for a week during a future mission.

After an interview with the mayor of Koudougou, we received permission to open the school. The regional inspector for literacy and elementary education (both formal and informal) informed us that he will make trainers from his department available to help train the new teacher.
The situation in Boulsen is such that only someone native to the area could live and teach there. <b<HAMAP EDUCATION will limit its activities to training him, paying him, monitoring his work from time to time, and providing the educational equipment necessary for children who have hitherto been deprived of anything of this kind.
We also visited a small orphanage, whose director would like to set up a literacy centre there. We felt it would be difficult to do so, as the children are too young. We were, however, extremely moved by the plight of the orphanage, which is very short of resources, and by the destitution of the children, who clung to us, so we decided to bring them clothing and 100 kilos of rice.

Finally Cathy, Jean Jacques and Louisette went on to Kokologo where they were welcomed by the priest, Father Vincent. He took us to visit schools run by nuns. Both the children and the classrooms at these schools were impeccably clean, and the teachers seemed to be doing a very competent job. Despite the existence of private schools like these, and state schools, many children receive no education, because their parents cannot afford to pay for it. (Even state schools are fee-paying.) Vincent would like us to be able to set up literacy and elementary education centres for them.

He would also like to build hutches for a dozen rabbits, whom he could breed and sell, in order to help the needy. Profits from the sale of rabbits would allow him to buy grain when prices are low, and sell it at reasonable rates when prices are high, as well as supplying it to the very poor at almost no cost. We decided to make a small contribution to his cause, and see what it might be possible to do for him in February. Louisette stayed on alone in Ouagadougou on November 5, and was able to make contact with the embassy, UNICEF, AFD (the French Development Agency) and the DEF (the Department for Education and Planning). By the end, a large proportion of our objectives had been achieved. The Burkinabé had given us a very warm welcome. Burkina Faso is a poor country, and malnutrition is common: children in the villages have distended stomachs, and their clothes are sometimes in rags. Both children and adults, however, can rarely be found without a smile, a good mood, and even a touch of humour. They are a true example to us. We now have only one wish: to go back to them, and do what we can to help.

Article by Louisette Le Fers

Publication : November 2009

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