Dear friends of our orphans in Ouagadougou,
We’re back to our daily routine here in the far south, as no doubt you and your families are too.
The festive season is long since over and this time the Christmas celebrations went off very well here in Africa, although I was not around. For the first time in 25 years I celebrated Christmas in Germany with my grandchildren – wonderful! On the evening of the 24th of December my telephone rang and at the other end of the line were all of the children from the orphanages, ceremoniously singing “Oh Tannenbaum” for me in German as they do every year. With the loudspeaker and microphone switched on I was able to join in from Berlin, with tears running down my face. Why can’t I be in two places at once?
All the parcels sent from Germany to the children with sponsors arrived safely, much to everyone’s delight. I’m sure the sponsors have all received their thankyou letters, duly translated and with the latest photo of the sponsored child.
Now we have settled back into our strict daily routine – as I’m sure you have too – punctuated by a few nice experiences and amusing events. Every morning my husband drives me to work at AMPO around 6:30. On the way we usually meet about 100 AMPO children with satchels and safety vests, caps and anoraks, faces freshly creamed to ward off the dust. They stand out among the other schoolkids simply because they are all coming out of one house, their tutors there to make sure that they are ready to go. I am so proud of our tutors.
Our three smallest girls recently took me aside and whispered timidly in my ear: “Can’t you take us to school?” “Sadly, no“, I replied. “It’s not all that far, but you know that I have a bad leg.” The impish response was: “We were thinking we could go by car …” Two days later the opportunity arose. We packed them in and drove them to the shabby, dusty, dilapidated state primary school. No one ever drives their kids there, they all come on foot. Now there we were – three beaming, giggling girls stepped out of my husband’s smart, shiny, bright yellow car at the school gate and they are still the talk of the entire school.
Meanwhile the Directors are busy planning the future of this year’s leavers. We would like to include you in this process and ask you to help, because the former AMPO children, now young adults, will continue to receive AMPO support for at least another two years, depending on their training, and we have never had so many young leavers as we will have this July.
Starting in autumn we therefore need a considerable amount of money for their training. Today we have calculated that the average annual cost per person is around €1,200, depending on what they want to do. There are 47 trainees and they may want to become a nurse, primary teacher, assistant pharmacist, secondary teacher. Or they may wish to attend fashion school or train to be a cook. Do you think you could help us? It amounts to €100 a month. Training varies from one to three years and the amount would cover student and university fees, apprenticeship premiums, food, accommodation, hygiene, medical treatment, notepads, books, etc.
Who can help us? If €100 per month is too much for an individual person, it might be possible to link up with friends or find others to join in. This request is also addressed to legal chambers, doctors’ surgeries or partnerships who might find it easier to raise such a sum. Our AMPO children simply deserve a positive future. They all arrived at AMPO hungry, afraid and often traumatised by their previous fate. And they all learn, are eager to develop to make something of their lives, look after their younger siblings and if possible do some good themselves, something that every AMPO child wants and something we try to show them every day by example. So please help us to put them on the right path by simply calling our office in Plön and you will be doing a good deed.
We were able to do another good deed here too. There is a very good German institution known as TuaRes caring for 1000 schoolgirls here in Burkina Faso. One of them, a sixteen-year-old girl in an advanced stage of pregnancy sought help from the social services, but they had nowhere for her to stay. Having fallen out with her family and with no means of support, Larissa was contemplating suicide. Just in time, one day before she gave birth, I was able to rescue her. At every pothole in the road I was thinking “This is it!” We brought her to the MIA/ALMA House where she was welcomed by positive-thinking tutors and 48 other girls, young mothers in a similar situation. The baby was born – a girl (of course!) – with the lovely name of Judith. Mother and baby are doing well. Larissa is able to smile again and she does now that she is in a safe environment.
We were delighted to receive a visit from Switzerland by our partners and sponsors from Zurich. The Dear Foundation has been funding our large clinic for many years. They are true professionals, working all over the globe in Israel, Gaza, Columbia and India and of course with us. We were able to learn a great deal from them and they too from us. One of the surgeons with the party wrote a comprehensive travel report which is well worth reading and can be found on our AMPO website. Together with the Foundation we are in the process of setting up a new project to fight breast cancer.
On another note, a huge amount of work has gone into restarting our agricultural college project. You will find details of this in a separate report by the project coordinator, Andrea Reikat, who has done a great job, particularly in view of the stringent requirements for applications to the Luxemburg Foreign Ministry, which she dealt with like an expert. I’m more practically inclined, having more to do with repairing, clearing, pruning trees, painting, so that everything was ready in time for the arrival of our new students. We are happy and relieved as are our friends from the Luxemburg Dr. Elvire Engel Foundation, who attended the opening ceremony.
We are never short of visitors at AMPO: trainees, helpers, friends can be put up in our simple guest quarters and are more than satisfied with the great food in our restaurant next door. The clinic is on the other side of the guestrooms, if anyone should need immediate care – it doesn’t get better than that! Two board members of the Sahel Association also spent about a week at AMPO visiting various facilities.
You too are always welcome. At the moment we have a visiting sponsor who came to see her AMPO child and she lends a helping hand wherever she can – a win-win situation for all concerned.
I wish all of you a wonderful springtime, gratitude in your heart for each day we are given, time for a little fun and a smile or a laugh out loud. Do as we do in Africa – if all else fails, laughing helps!
Katrin Rohde and all the AMPO children in Ouagadougou
Life again at last on Tondtenga
Things were very quiet for six months on Tondtenga, AMPO´s Agricultural College. There was a six-month gap between the departure of the last trainee students and the new intake. One of the reasons for this was that the application procedures with the Foreign Ministry of Luxemburg through the Dr. Elvire Engel Foundation, our donors, had become more complicated. Added to that, after 10 years and 5 training courses we took time to set up a new team and breathe some fresh air into Tondtenga.
Our targets however have remained unchanged: young men from the country are trained in biological, intergrated farming methods, so that they can return to their villages and earn a living without recourse to environmentally damaging methods that may endanger health and that are on the increase in Burkina Faso.
The new team consists of acknowledged agricultural experts, led by Antoine Konombo, the Director, who has had almost thirty years‘ experience managing many agricultural projects. He is in charge of 4 technical trainers and 3 tutors, all of whom were trained in good agricultural colleges. The difference between the trainers and the tutors is essentially that the former have more professional experience than the latter.
This time we have selected the 50 trainees from one province. This simplifies the training and will also facilitate subsequent follow-up, when they return to the villages on completion of their training to set up cooperatives.
We also have a new member of staff to support these cooperatives, Olivier Bado, who previously worked as a consultant to cooperatives in various parts of Burkina.
Led by this new team, the students at TT will spend the next one and a half years learning not only about biological farming and animal husbandry, but also studying in greater depth subjects such as “Living in a cooperative“, “Marketing my products“, “Rehabilitation of overexploited soil”, “Producing animal feed, biological manure and biological insecticides”.
The new trainees arrived on the 5th and 6th of January and were welcomed by Katrin, Andrea and the AMPO Directors on the 7th of January. On the 31st of January the official opening ceremony took place attended by a large delegation from the Dr. Elvire Engel Foundation and coordinators of the Luxemburg and German Development Cooperation in Burkina. Now that the festivities are over we have resumed our daily routine, which means laying out fields and beds, vaccinating and feeding animals, milking cows and goats and making Tondtenga once more the green oasis it has been for many years.
Dear friends and supporters,
we are sure you are just as happy with the beginning of spring as we are, and with all the colour it brings. The past year was also bright and eventful and together with you we succeeded in financing the diverse AMPO projects and securing their continuation. Each institution makes its own particular contribution, thus supporting specific target groups: a home for orphaned children, training for young adults, essential nutrition for undernourished babies, assistance for underage mothers and mobility for the physically handicapped – each success, large or small, is made possible by your continuing support.
Two members of the Sahel Association staff were able to gain their own impressions on a visit to AMPO. In November 2016 they set off for the warmth of Ouagadougou, returning 8 days later full of memories of happy encounters, touching images and laden with new products from Burkina. A brief impression is given in the short extract from the travel diary attached to this newsletter. The detailed report is available on our homepage.
“It is good to see how the AMPO institutions engage with each other, how each institution knows what the other is doing and can do in a particular case, how we don’t only think of today, handing out a bowl of rice to a hungry family, but we also keep an eye on tomorrow and the day after.“ (Ricarda Walzel)
The travel report appears on our homepage
„Wir sind dann mal bei AMPO – Reisetagebuch“
We have prepared and sent out your contribution receipts for 2016 over the past few weeks. If you have not yet received them please inform the office.