Mar 7 – Seeing Burkina Faso

I have just returned home from a 10 day trip to Burkina Faso, Africa. I saw hunger, disease, hope, joy, generosity. I felt hot, dusty, thirsty, loved, appreciated, encouraged, hospitality, inspired. I was filled with heart-breaking experiences that consumed my heart with compassion. I wish I could put it into one simple post and tell you what what all this means. But I cannot.

The children at Tabitha House are excited about Legos given to them by their FaithWorks! friends!

The children at Tabitha House are excited about Legos given to them by their FaithWorks! friends!

I had one post all written in my head for today but then popped on to facebook while I was waiting for my coffee to finish brewing. I came across this picture, and well, it put a smile on my face!!

These children come to Tabitha House with their moms, who are widowed or abandoned. Tabitha House is a ministry teaching these women a trade so that they can support themselves and their family. Currently they are making beaded jewelry and dolls, that are sold to missionaries and visitors, and the meager profits are shared with the women.

These women and children live in Sector 30, which is the poorest area in the nation’s capital, Ouagadougou. Spending 50 cents a day to live on would be a lot. Their first pay day, placed more money in their hands than many had ever held before at one time…and it was maybe a dollar or two.

These grins are beautiful, aren’t they?! And sometimes hard to find in pictures! The children in Burkina Faso LOVED getting their pictures taken, but when you would snap the camera, they would have this stoic, serious look on their faces. And when you turned your camera around to show them their pictures, they would break out into these fabulous smiles and laugh out loud! I even said to someone, “We need to tag-team so that one gets the serious photo they think we’re taking and the other snap it when they break out into laughter!”

We spent hours and hours and hours taking pictures and showing them to the children over the course of our trip. They loved it. And they never tired of laughing and pointing at themselves and their friends.

Laughter is universal. And I’m thinking comes naturally. That first time a baby laughs is something parents look forward to when their babies are little. It’s not something you’re taught, it just happens. And then makes those around you laugh, too. But as I look at this picture, I remember that not all things come naturally and some things our children do every day, we take for granted.

Before coming on this trip, I asked Dee Dee Sterling if we could bring some paper and markers for the kids. She told me…they wouldn’t know what to do with it. She tried drawing with the women one day and they didn’t know what to do. As she tried to demonstrate, “You could draw a sun, like this…” they would copy it exactly. By the time she was done, every drawing looked identical. They had never had the opportunity, or luxury??, to take the time to do anything like this before. 

Not only that, but when Dee Dee Sterling said, “You can take this home with you!” They weren’t sure what to do with that either. It’s not like they have a fridge at home with magnets waiting on it.

Here’s Dee Dee’s blog post about two rocking horses that were made for these children and their reaction to those. It’s really, actually, sweet.

But what I love about this picture, is that the FaithWorks! children and families donated these Legos!! Our team carried them to the other side of the world so they would have something to play with while the moms were working. I knew by my conversations with Dee Dee that they might need to be taught what to do with them, but we collected wooden blocks and Legos to share with these kids. She thought simple, colorful, sturdy toys would be something they would enjoy and be able to learn to create with!

And here they are.

FaithWorks! kids: thank you for being kids who help other kids. Your smiles bring smiles. And I think make God smile, too.

About Karen Grant

Children's Minister - FaithWorks! is the children's ministry of Clay Church in South Bend, Indiana.
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