Burkina Faso - Life as a gift
"Go everywhere, because everywhere you will find the poor…."
It is with much joy and great pleasure that I am taking this means to be in touch with you and to share with you my brief experience and discovery of the new mission to which I have been sent and which has been confided to me.
On the 9th of January I arrived in Burkina Faso, in the capital Ouagadougou, where Maria Teresa Vintro was waiting for me so that, the following day, we could continue the journey together to Bobo-Dioulasso.
After a five-hour journey we shared "the water of welcome" in the middle of sector 24. From my arrival I began to become aware this country which was new to me…
Even though the rainy season had just ended (the winter here), I was looking at countryside that had a yellowish colour because of the lack of water and the proximity of the desert. It is rare to see the colour green here… the people of Burkina do not lose hope: as history shows, it is a nation composed of "persons of Integrity".
It is something that can be observed each day when one sees how the cultures and religions meet so naturally … and that it is possible to make the journey together and to live together.
With the community we looked at the mission field where I might be involved, above all to be able to give a response to the needs and the requests made by the district. So, in collaboration with Maria José Vallejo, I participate in the "FONISYA association", at the assemblies of the association and the committee meetings. I also participate in the various association workshops, like the one for making soap; here, I bring what I know but I also learn a new way of making the soap, a more elaborate one. This time is valuable in making it possible to get to know the women and I am discovering also a way of doing things that is different to the one I was used to, and of organising the work together. Organisation is a very marked characteristic of theirs.
Another group was formed to prepare the work in the fields by gathering the leaves from the trees and other waste, as well as the animal excrement; so, when the rain comes they are ready to cultivate the maize, without using chemical fertilisers…
With a few women from the district we had an awareness campaign for the literacy classes. Above all we visited the homes of the Moslem women to explain to them how important it is to learn to read and to write the local language, Dioula. The women explained to them all the advantages for the future and some were motivated enough to come.
In addition, the Salesians had asked us to give some training to their pre-novices, training in decoration and creativeness so as to improve the community quarters and places of worship. This takes only two hours a week and it enables me to get to know a different reality and also to make my financial contribution. Other proposals for continuing the project with the street children followed… We’ll see. We try to go gently at first, especially as the climate is not easy and one has to adapt little by little.
This experience is a rich and new one for me; I am happy that I can begin to settle in amongst this people and in this way. It is true, for me it is a stroke of fortune and a grace to be able to know this corner of the world where the poorest and the most deprived, the women and the children, are those who suffer the most… and I think that it is for this that they want to learn and know so as to be able to help the family because it is always the women who carry the weight of their children and of the house. I am discovering a characteristic that is very important for all of humanity… and that I find very evident here: it is freedom. It is lovely to see that, apparently, this intermingling does not hinder life together nor even the celebration of mixed marriages between Christian and Moslems. It is extraordinary to see that, to take decision and conclude agreements, the presence of one witness suffices for a person to remain faithful to the word that has been given.
I am discovering a people where the seal of confidence is engraved in their life and their being, a people that is open, that lives the Gift of gratuitousness, of sharing, of solidarity, without looking for a reward. The words "THANK YOU" are born with the person and, from the time they are very small, it is part of their vocabulary …
With this Burkinabe people I am also learning to say "thank you", to the God of Life in a different way: "I ni ce. " (Thank you)
Maria de Lurdes