At the start of 2012 I had the fantastic opportunity to visit Burkina Faso in Africa. I was inspired to raise money for an orphanage and maternity clinic with a good friend who is currently living over there. It’s been almost 4 months since I went but I had such a fantastic trip, I truly enjoyed my 2 weeks in Africa.

My first impression was ‘it’s hot!’. Most days averaged at 33 degrees and coming from a cold england was certainly a change . I’m glad I didn’t go in the hot season! When I looked around at all there was to see I was surprised to realise I wasn’t shocked. Poverty in every direction from an elderly women with a 4 month old skinny baby begging at the side of the road to a truck jammed packed truck full of upside down chickens, people, cows and goats. It certainly wasn’t a dull drive to the orphanage. I can only guess going to India in 1995 prepared my heart for a desperate world. That, and all you see on TV.

Life is simple over there. They know how to survive and the children learn straight away. Whenever we would stop whether on the moto or in the car, people, mainly children would gather round you trying to sell anything from food to mobile phone top ups. I often wondered how much they make in a day and whether it’s ever enough for them to eat that night. I certainly didn’t live in poverty while I was there. I was in a lovely house, a comfortable bed with my own bathroom, good food, internet, movies and great company. Things I never would have expected when flying to one of the poorest countries in the world.

When I first visited the orphanage it was worse than I had first thought. A fairly large main room but dark and lifeless. The shutters were often closed and the walls were drawn on, scraped and lifeless. There was 1 mattress on the floor, 7 old looking baby bouncer chairs, a wooden bookshelf, a small table, broken dirty toys and various other random bits and bobs. The 2/3 bedrooms had several cots crammed in and not much else. Clothes were piled high on the floor and the nappy changing area is in need of some special attention.

     

It took me a little while to realise there were children right in front of me needing some love and attention because my mind was already ticking away with all that needed doing. By the 3rd day the kids had warmed to me and I was able to play and giggle with them. I would often give the newborns a bottle. The poor little ones spent the majority of the day by themselves in their cots. I thought about how normally when somebody has a baby they spend their days showing off their bundle of joy and constantly cuddling them. They get so much attention but these babies are desperate for a cuddle. It’s not that the staff don’t get care, they work so hard but there are too many children and not enough time.

The good news is we were able to take lots of new clothes and toys and it was so much fun giving them to the children. The kids are absolutely desperate for attention and each child queued to have their turn trying on the new clothes. We took a couple of puzzles for the older children and were able to spend a bit of time showing them how to do it although i’m convinced they will never do it again. The kids were more concerned about holding as many pieces as they could rather than making the puzzle come together. I’m sure by now the pieces are scattered all over the place!

   

I was naive to think we could get more done while I was there for only 2 weeks, especially with Africa timing but we were able to purchase new cot bedding and covers, witness the new mosquito netting go up all around the windows and doors, paint the walls and put up wall stickers in every room to brighten the place up. The work is ongoing but it’s a great start.

     

One morning Hannah & I visited the maternity clinic. It was similar to the orphanage in many ways, very basic and need of some new things. When the women are in labour, there is no where in the room for them to sit or lie down, it’s dark and dingy. I didn’t get to see the delivery room but I presume it’s much the same. Hannah & I were told to put on overalls and help with the morning routine of weighing the babies, recording the data and help with giving injections & medicine. It’s a simple clinic but effective. I helped 30+ babies that morning and although I felt intimidated with all the women just staring at me, probably wondering if I knew what I was doing, I enjoyed it.

      

Thanks to the community in and around B@titude we were able to raise over £2,000! The money stretched well and we were able to purchase new delivery tables for the maternity clinic, small tables and chairs for the kids at the orphanage, mosquito netting, a heart monitor, build temporary accommodation for new mothers, and take the older children on a day out to the local park, and more. Part of the money was also spent on medical expenses for a young baby who most likely had Down’s Syndrome with resultant heart and lung problems. Sadly he has since died but suffered very little due to the treatment he received. A tragic reminder of the difficult circumstances in Burkina.  The money was used to cover and buy much more than we had planned and expected and has made a huge difference to the orphanage and maternity clinic in Burkina Faso. It was such a privilledge to have the opportunity to visit Burkina Faso and take with me the finances to impact the mothers and children in the orphanage and maternity clinic. Thank you for all your support.

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