The AMPO orphanage for girls is just opposite the orphanage for boys, with the advantage that the women employed in the kitchen can cook for the girls and boys at the same time, which means cooking a hot meal three times a day for 150 people. Breakfast consists of the traditional rice- or cornmeal soup. At midday and in the evening there is rice, pasta or “to”, a type of polenta, with lots of vegetable sauce and very little meat. The AMPO girls help the cooks to prepare all the meals.
The orphanage for girls was opened on 15th September 1999. Here too there are about 60 socially underprivileged girls whose relatives have no means whatever to feed them and send them to school. It is more difficult to assess the difficult situation the girls are in than the boys. If there is a family dispute, the boys simply leave the compound or they are thrown out, to be found later on the streets of Ouagadougou. Usually if her parents die, the girl is passed on to relatives as a kitchen maid and is often treated worse than their own children. The domestic income is often not enough to pay for schooling and the food is often poor and meagre.
Having seen this situation at first hand, Katrin Rohde decided to set up an orphanage for girls. The admittance criteria are carefully examined the same as for the boys’ orphanage. The girls leave the orphanage at the age of eighteen and continue to be financed and supported until they can fend for themselves. In the orphanage and in all the other facilities set up by Katrin Rohde there is absolute freedom of religion. Unlike in Europe, churches and mosques in Burkina Faso are packed to the brim. Everyone believes in God and everyone practices his or her own religion. The country is more or less evenly divided between Catholics and Muslims. They cheerfully accept one another. They may be poor, but in this respect Burkina Faso is the last peaceful paradise on Earth. We all celebrate our festivals together. For the AMPO orphans it is important to feel at home in their respective religious communities after they leave.
Part of the AMPO annexe is the training restaurant, Mam Dunia, which is also open to the public, offering both traditional African food and modern European cuisine. The restaurant is strictly managed by Adama whose reputation for a squeaky clean kitchen as well as good food reaches far beyond the city boundaries. Many Europeans come and enjoy the food served by the cheerful girls from our orphanage. Alcohol is only available in the form of beer and the gates to the restaurant are closed in the early evening. The object is to keep it going as a training restaurant.
There is another training facility in the AMPO annexe, this time for tailoring. The young people can learn the trade here from our two master-tailors, a trade that is so important in Burkina Faso.
The small weaving shop is also here. All the trainee girls also attend the AMPO prep school or go to evening classes outside.
The AMPO annexe team is so successfully led by Christine Adamou, a psychologist. She has been with us since the orphanage was first set up, this wonderful, generous and argumentative woman who knows each and every one of her girls inside out.
In general the girls perform well at school and in their training, and in many cases they are able to overcome their deeply traumatic experiences within a very short time, thanks to the care and counselling of the director and her staff. The girls acquire self-confidence and can prepare themselves for inclusion into Burkina society.
Parts of the compulsory extracurricular activities are karate and swimming; participation in ladies’ football is voluntary.
In addition, the girls have many hobbies which are mainly pursued on Sundays owing to the tight schedule during the week. These include dance, theatre, handicrafts, not to mention weaving each other’s hair – again a compulsory activity – into incredibly lovely, complex hair patterns, not only for reasons of hygiene, but also because natural hair dries out due to the effects of the sun. The girls really enjoy this and it adds to the sense of competition.
Apart from these activities, the AMPO girls take part in the theme nights organised by „P.P. Filles“. Counselling and family planning are very important factors for the future of Burkina Faso.