Ben* lives in Burkina Faso and he loves to read!
Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in western Africa, can be a challenging place to grow up in. 90% of its people are dependent on subsistence farming. Families battle drought, difficult growing conditions & regular water shortages. Further economic growth is limited by lack of access to a global port, something which discourages growth in the manufacturing sector. And in recent years internal terrorism in the north has created havoc.
But, living in the more stable but still struggling south, Ben and hundreds more children like him are discovering reasons to believe in a stronger future for themselves because of holistic community outreach through the Gampela Centre.
Here, a caring church community operates the Gampela primary & secondary schools, a medical clinic, a vocational school, and even food relief outreach. Children in this under-served community are being given the basic building blocks to life.
Ben is shown here at age 12 in grade 7. He has developed a real love of fiction at school but there is no local library in his isolated village. When Ben’s dad, a hard-working subsistence farmer with just a grade 6 education himself, can scrape together some extra money he buys Ben a new book.
Ben’s mom makes & sells a local food made with rice and leaves to add to the family income and usually the family just ‘gets by.’ Too often there is not enough food for three full meals a day. The hearty school lunch Ben and his siblings receive at the Gampela School is made with rice and the addition of proteins such as fish or legumes, and peanut butter. In a country where 1/3 of children are malnourished, this one simple addition to Ben’s life helps to fuel hope.
Without the school, the church community, and the encouragement of his teachers, it might be difficult for Ben to envision a life beyond ‘getting by’ in a community where poverty is simply accepted as the norm. But he has plans! Once he finishes high school, Ben will have the option of attending the new Gampela Vocational School to learn a skilled trade, though his big dream is to go on to military college eventually and become a soldier to help protect his people.
We are encouraged to see kids like Ben learn that life holds options for them.
*Child’s name has been changed to protect his privacy