Sunday, 4 August 2013

60th Anniversary and Child Sponsorship

This year, International Service is celebrating its 60th birthday - that’s 60 years of empowering the world’s most marginalised people to achieve lasting, positive change. Handicap Solidaire Burkina (HSB) is a big part of that and we all went to Ziniaré to help celebrate the diamond anniversary in style.

Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Kabeela, also supported by International Service, hosted the heartwarming and memorable day. As well as presentations and speeches, we were treated to traditional music, dancing and food.

Freddy, HSB Programmes Coordinator, speaking about International Service in Burkina Faso.
Behind, traditional dancers.

In spite of the heat of the sun everyone was up for a dance. One lady with a baby on her back and wearing the International Women’s Day material would not take no for an answer. Thrown into the dancing circle I tried to shimmy my hips and dance to the beat like all the friendly locals were trying to teach me, without a look of deep concentration.

Ziniaré felt a world away from the traffic-fumes and dust of our Ouaga home. It’s a town with more open space and many fewer motorcycles; between traditional earth-coloured homes are fields used for crops. But this is no sleepy town. This is where the current President Compaoré was born and as a result is known for being a town that’s going places. A number of developments projects have found their way here; building and agriculture projects, and notably the NGO Kabeela.

The Ziniaré celebration magnified the impact of development work in every corner of the globe and happening right now in Burkina Faso.

On my first day at HSB, during our handover meeting, standing out to me was a new project: child sponsorship. HSB supports disabled children as much as it can, but needs to find more sustainable funding. Setting up child sponsorship began as a light-bulb moment a few months ago. Now was time to see it realised. At my first Espace Bambino I had lots of fun playing with the children, but it opened my eyes to how needed sponsorship is.

A day at Espace Bambino with the children and their mothers.

The children suffer from a range of disabilities, malnutrition and lack of education. Without funds, these are incurable issues. Many of the families live in extreme poverty and can’t afford more than one meal of millet a day, never mind essential medical care and basic education. 7-year-old Abdoul cannot afford the daily medication for epilepsy; 6-year-old Hamidou can’t even afford a doctor’s appointment; another story is of a little girl who had been succeeding in primary school but has now had to drop-out, as there isn’t funding for future years.

HSB has a unique close relationship with the families. Nathalie, who runs Espace Bambino and the drop-in centre, visits the families each week, is available each day to provide support and, where possible, has each child’s needs assessed by specialists.

The sponsorship process is transparent. The amount required for each need is shown with each child’s story. Sponsors can see exactly who their donation is going to, what towards and the results. From just £3.50 a month Hamidou can wear orthopaedic shoes, meaning no more running in bare feet. Just £9.30 a month will send Faridatou, who loves maths and drawing, to school.

Two children with learning difficulties have already received sponsorship for a remarkable special-needs school in Ouagadougou: Association des Parents et Amis d’Enfants Encephalopathes (APEE). One of the remarkable things about APEE is that it is a ‘normal’ school around the original special needs one, providing integration. The two children have thrived at the school, growing in confidence, and equipping them with skills that will help them support themselves when they finish.

Sponsorship has the potential to make a lasting impact on a child’s life. Visit the HSB webpage to find out more.

ICS team working hard towards the launch of HSB’s Sponsor A Child campaign.

Watch out for the launch in September 2013.

- Zena

1 comment:

  1. Great to see this idea is starting to become a reality I look forward to hearing more :)