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.
Over the course of our two night stay at the Bible school, we saw loads of children. I think I already mentioned that the men who come here to study and be trained, bring their families. I think I also already mentioned that they bring their own food. So once a year, they head home to plow and plant their field, cultivate it, and wait for harvest time. It’s after harvest time that the Bible students arrive and the new year begins here.
Many of these children are not in school.
The school year begins before the harvest is in. Which means the families coming to Bible school have missed the school entry date. For reasons unknown to me, you cannot start school there if you are not there at the beginning of the year. Unless a family is able to arrive at Bible school early, their children do not have an opportunity to be educated during those four years.
Also, for reasons unknown to me, there is an age limit for entering school. Once a child reaches a certain age, they cannot go.
Depending on their age, they may not have much of a chance to receive an education. And remember, their father has had to attend literacy school for three years before Bible school as many could not read prior to that. I cannot imagine there is much education being done at home. Parents just don’t have much time for that with their days being consumed with dads in the fields and moms spending most of the day preparing meals.
I connected with one young girl, if you can really say “connected” with such a language barrier. She was maybe ten years old? It’s so hard to know their age there. They tend to look older than they really are. Her name is Josephine. She would show up whenever the little ones did and would encourage them to sing with us and dance with us. She even joined in on the fun and did a dance for us. Josephine was very sweet and had a beautiful smile. After passing out pillowcase dresses, where I put a bright green one on her, she found me and brought me to meet her mother. A lovely woman with an smile to match her daughter’s!
Josephine even showed up in our camp that night. It was dark. At first we were worried something was wrong. But through the help of John, our only translator awake at the time, we learned she only wanted to be with us. She just wanted to hang out and be around us. We walked her toward home, because we didn’t want to encourage others to show up!
She happened to live next door to the family with the newborn twins, so I got to see her once more before leaving. But as we were walking away, this comment was made:
We did see some children leaving for school on Monday morning before we moved on to our next destination. They would stop by to shake our hands before heading off with their lunch pail. But there sure were a lot hanging around for the rest of the morning as we packed up our camp.
One dream our team had after spending time here, was to develop a school of some sort for these children. A means to give these them an education during their four years here. Some math skills, reading skills, writing skills. There are a lot of details to go into something like this, but it’s something we came home talking about. It’s something we’ll continue praying about. It’s something we’ll continue dreaming about. It’s something I think we’ll continue working toward.
Until that heaviness in my heart is lifted.