The AMPO orphanage for boys was one of the first projects opened by Katrin Rohde on 3rd March,1996. When we took it over, the site was a rubbish dump and before it could be used we had to dig out and replace the topsoil.
At the time, the property in Sector 29 was on the outskirts of Ouagadougou, but today the growing inner city is encroaching nearer and nearer and people have been flooding to the capital from the countryside, so that the unofficial population count has tripled to 2.5 million with a current annual rate of increase of 10%.
At present there are about 60 kids aged between 6 and 18 in the AMPO orphanage for boys. All of them are orphaned or semi-orphaned, abandoned or abused children. It is usually their impoverished relatives who apply to have them taken in, but sometimes the kids just turn up at the gate and ask AMPO for help. The actual need and the background of each child is thoroughly checked by social workers. In many cases the children are deeply traumatised and they then undergo long-term, one-on-one psychological counselling.
In terms of education, the new children are given extra lessons on site, so that they can catch up on lost schooling to prepare them for easier integration into the regular school system later. All the other kids attend neighbourhood schools and most of them perform extremely well. There is also the possibility of further education, depending on the talents of the individual. All of the children are given vocational training.
The Director, Mathias Zoré, also grew up as an orphan. He manages the house with a firm but loving hand and is constantly implementing new ideas.
Time spent at AMPO is marked by many socio-cultural activities to create awareness and to develop learning and playing skills. Football and art, dance and HIV / Aids education, family planning and basketwork, their own kitchen garden including animals to look after, all contribute to confidence-building and self-sufficiency.
The AMPO kids are particularly good at football. In 2008 the junior team won a major competition and as a reward they took part in the Africa Championship in Ghana.
When they reach the age of majority, the young grown-ups must leave AMPO to make room for newcomers.
This does not mean however that they no longer benefit from the assistance of their teachers and tutors. Living with their relatives, they are provided with a modest sum of money for support and a bicycle. They are accompanied and supported on their path to independence and inclusion into the labour market. We help them look for jobs and finance training schemes. Those who are best at school are supported to go to university. Those who successfully complete their apprenticeship in an AMPO training facility are given at least donations in kind to help them stand on their own feet; every trained tailor, for example is given his own mechanical sewing machine.