2016 Burkina Day 17: Thérèse, Juliette, Sonia, General Meeting

Day 17, Thérèse, Juliette, Sonia, General Meeting

23 January 2016

 

Thérèse came to us through another association in Brittany working in Burkina Faso. Dr. Traoré drove me to the ends of the earth to find where she lived.

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Thérèse is one of those who’s been dangling for months while the government decides who will get a state scholarship. Originally, it was all women with an average of 11.5 or higher. Thérèse had an average of 11.80. Happily, we set aside full scholarship money for her in our budget in the event that the scholarship didn’t come through. In the results announced just this week, state scholarships went to those with an average of 12.30 or higher. In my country, we call that moving the goal posts.

We finally arrived. Thérèse showed us her bac certificate with the grade of 11.80.

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We were given the name of Sister Vitaline who knew the family well. She had studied at Loudeac and at Saint-Brieuc in our corner of Brittany from 2007-2010. It was she who had recommended Thérèse. She joined us.

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So she was now our charge and Sister Vitaline was there to help. What did she want to study? Law. Aaaarrrgh. With Sister’s backing, I convinced Thérèse to study English. l’ISIG (New Dawn University) had a branch in Bobo. The US Embassy had given l’ISIG money for a good English language program. There were more job opportunities. Thérèse was convinced.

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She has no bicycle; she has no electricity. How are we going to do this? I decided to risk a Board revolt and buy her a bicycle. I gave her Dad the money. I will also try to buy a solar lamp. Mom, Dad, Sister Vitaline, Thérèse and her three sisters all posed for a photo.

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Next stop, Juliette’s internship at CAMEG, a state company that sells generic medicines.

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Juliette came out to greet us. She finished her Master’s coursework in accounting and was now doing the necessary round of internships for up to two years. She finished strongly, with very high grades. Last year, she was smiling with a dash of red dye in her hair. I’m happy to say, she looked very much the professional woman today.

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Years ago, Dr. Traoré had helped set up CAMEG. The Branch Manager, Rèma Rande, below, right, came down to greet him. Juliette works with the Chief Accountant, Pascal Banze, second from the right. I said that I hoped they could one day offer Juliette a paying job. “We’d love to,” they said, “but….”

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Juliette is in a financial bind. Her roommate of several years has finished her studies and is returning to Ouaga. She has to find a place to live. To eat, her mother sends her farm goods and she has money left from a small stipend we gave her. But she will need financial help to survive. A question for our Board.

In the afternoon, we visited the parents of Sonia, the accounting student whose father wanted her to study medicine.

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Sonia and her Dad don’t see eye to eye.

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Her Dad told us they never received their tuition check. He had to borrow money from a neighbor to make the first two installments. Gak! I phoned our Ouaga office to authorize immediate payment.

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We discussed Sonia’s need to hunker down. Her dad drives her to school on his motorbike, picks her up for lunch, drives her back again. She’s carefully supervised. We’ll have to see if she gets her act together at school.

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Dr. Traoré had invited all our beneficiaries as well as candidates for aid to his home for a general meeting. Thérèse had no difficulty getting there on her new bike.

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We sat around the well-appointed living room and exchanged.

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Here is the next generation of professional women in Burkina Faso.

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Left to right: Pélagie (her sister couldn’t attend because of her scooter accident), future judge; Mouniratou, future nurse; Rokia, future nurse; Sonia, future accountant, Thérèse, future teacher of languages.

New York, New York

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