Burkina Faso - HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES IN SECTOR 24 OF BOBO-DIOULASSO

We are writing to share with you something about an activity that began here in August 2012, just a year after our arrival.

Being constantly harassed by the requests from the children and teenagers to "do something together", we thought of the time during the holidays when their parents go to work in the fields. Our concern was for all those very small children who are there discovering the world in the streets of our district, who do not go to school before the age of seven or more, either because the parents cannot afford it or because they are not aware of the value of schooling. 
 
So, the LSA community got down to work, with support from the Christian community, the head of the state school (at that time there was just one school in our sector), the parents and, above all, a good group of teenagers and young neighbours who took charge of this project from the beginning – like a "common treasure", a "school of life" . 
 
Similar experiences that we had seen in our home countries, the training at the infant school in Kinshasa, the presence of a Spanish laywoman (Marga Luque) among us – all this encouraged us. But managing a whole crowd of children (a large number enrolled) without knowing the language, the educational methods etc. – it was all quite a challenge. The monitors were always there to talk with the parents and with the children, to help us in deciding on the activities, the timetable, the organisation etc. With them, the difficulties were overcome in a family spirit, with joy… we were conscious of our limits but also of our little contribution to the life of these children and their families. In the afternoons we offered the monitors a time of training for themselves, for being together, an amusing English-language workshop, etc. 
 
The party we had prepared for the children and parents, with very limited means and in difficult conditions, was a time of shared emotion and of discovery for all concerned. A young mother said to us: "Oh, we are being spoiled…. we, the women, we are not used to being invited to sit down during a morning to enjoy our children and be with them… and even to taste some little goodies without having to do the cooking!!!" 
After a very tiring month, a thanksgiving prayer with all the monitors, men and women (Muslims, Catholics and Protestants), brought to a close an evaluation that had been joyful and full of desires for the future. That was how the holiday activities in sector 24 began. 
Today, the situation is still precarious with regard to the means, the uncertainty concerning participants, the premises to be used etc., but at the same time many things are being consolidated. Also, the preparation began in January so that the young people may be able to concentrate on the exams before August. 
A programme is gradually taking shape … and each year is a continual invitation to our collective creativity. A structure is being put in place. 
 
Our shared VISION:
  • In the midst of the working and poor families we wish to promote together development projects that would help them to improve their living conditions. 
  • Through a presence, acts of solidarity and of service to the families, we work to promote among them the health and dignity of persons by actions that include care, socio-educational and family work, depending on the different contexts.
  • We wish that all those who are not heard may be enabled to take their place in society and that all may recognise themselves as belonging to a people. (cf. Rule of Life, no. 9) 
Our shared MISSION: 
 
Creating "common houses": places for hospitality and harmony in diversity. Living spaces where each one is called by name, invited to be creative and gradually to take part in the building of the world, in a family spirit. 
 
Our shared VALUES:
  • Take into account the reality of this people: culture, language…and of each ethnic group.
  • Have as reference the good of the poorest.
  • Give priority to the value of the person, to her/his right to have their dignity respected.
  • Further collective work, in a group.
  • Promote the values of justice, peace and respect for Creation.
Our PROPOSITION: 
We have drawn up a Holiday Programme that combines out-of-school support, non-formal learning activities and leisure and relaxation activities. This has been under way since 2012, during the month of August, the winter month during which the families go to the fields to sow during the rainy season. 
 
General Aim 
To create a setting for encounter, conviviality and learning for children aged between 4 and 12 years and for adolescents and young adults, during four weeks in August. 
 
Specific aims: 
  • To learn in an atmosphere of joy, respect and mutual assistance. 
  • To enable the families, who continue their activities during school holidays, to have a place that is reassuring and educational for their children. 
Main lines of action:
  • Out of school support 
  • Co-operative sport 
  • Corporal expression: dance, theatre, storytelling, games 
  • Manual expression: drawing, modelling, weaving, decorating, gardening
  • Audiovisual expression: singing and cinema
  • Knowledge of the surroundings: outings 
  • Road Communication: knowing the highway code according to their level 
  • Celebration: Organisation of a final party with the families 
We do not want to have massive activity so that we may avoid losing personal attention to each child. But the demand is increasing and that is why, since last year, we have increased the team of monitors and the time given to training. 
We will not take more than 200 children from four to twelve years, with priority for those who have not yet been to school or who have difficulties at school. 
They are divided into groups by age and according to their learning level. 
 
Since 2012, each year we develop a theme around which all the activities are programmed…. Each year a hymn is composed and learnt by the children, each year there is a slogan to be drawn, and each year there is content to be communicated through formal and informal learning activities. 
In 2012: "Planet Builders
A theme that was spread over four weeks to approach the question of water, the earth, air and fire.
In 2013: "We, the children, are here!"
The rights and duties of the children at home, at school and in town. 
In 2014: "Communication is a world!!!.
 
The means of communi-cation, ancient and modern, enabled us to build in the course of a month a real communications village (post office, telephone, information technology room, newspapers, but also to learn how to interpret the messages sent by tom-tom according to the sounds, the use of smoke etc.) 
 
The monitors speak… 
 
 
"In the name of all the children who have taken part in the activities during August 2014, as well as of all the monitors, and not forgetting the Little Sisters of the Assumption who are the root and the cradle of this union of different ethnic groups and religions, I wish to thank all the persons and groups who have helped to make this latest edition possible.
   A third experience of exchange, sharing and learning with the smallest children (numbering 175) and the youth of the neighbourhood (33 monitors), was yet another universe, one filled with emotions and discoveries. 
 
   Throughout the month of August we worked on strengthening French, and on sport, dance, theatre and the making of certain objects for which we had chosen a theme – for this year: communication (’Communication, it’s a world!’) – so as to help the children to know their past better and to understand the present." 
 
For the year 2015 the theme proposed was that of the family … The "ideas box" is open …. It is a good way of inviting you to participate in the holiday activities in Burkina, from the place where you are. 
THANK YOU.
The community of Bobo-Dioulasso
28/04/2015
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