My name is D.J. Brooks and I am currently a third year student at Harvard University and am interning with the BARKA Foundation this summer in Fada N’Gourma, Burkina Faso. I have been asked to give you all an update as to the work the Foundation has completed over the past several months with the FADA WASH project, and I would be remiss to think that I could include it all in detail in this update. In these few months past, the Foundation has been engaged in truly inspiring and impressive work here in Burkina Faso and we want to share it with all of you.
For this project, the Foundation has been working with five different communities: Koaré, Bouguy, Boungou, Kanougou, and Natiaboani. In each of the communities, BARKA is working to mobilize and engage the people around water, sanitation, and hygiene through sustainable community involvement. In four of the communities, BARKA is working directly with the local schools to promote sound sanitation and hygiene practices. Through the financial support of Rotary International, BARKA has given essential materials to each of the schools,, including hand-washing stations and soap, brooms and dust pans to clean classrooms, plastic water transport containers, fruits trees to be grown at the schools, and animation cards intended to reinforce good sanitation practices. Teachers from these schools, as well, have been trained in hygiene and sanitation techniques for the classroom, further encouraging the adoption of sound WASH practices. In these communities, gender-specific latrines are being installed at the schools by local, experienced masons to enable the villages to begin to manage their sanitation needs. Each of the villages will be facilitated in the coming months by an experienced BARKA staff member who will be able to aid the teachers in finding the best, most effective ways to maintain and promote good hygiene in the schools.
At the same time, BARKA is working with the BESER enterprise and the Regional Direction of Water and Sanitation to install four wells in four of these same communities. In each community, BARKA has helped to organize and train a Water Point Committee (WPC) to guarantee exemplary water service and to collect funds from the association of water users to allow for future well repairs. In addition to the WPC, BARKA has trained two women from each village as hygienists whose charge it will to be to teach and reinforce to the villagers the practices of proper sanitation and hygiene. In “teaching the teachers,” BARKA is able to maximize the number of people receiving this information. Currently in progress as I type this update is a workshop, also, to train a mechanic from each of the villages in how to repair the well when it malfunctions. In doing so, BARKA is able to help the community safeguard their access to this essential resource. Like with the hygiene and sanitation efforts in the schools, these WPC’s and hygienists will be guided by BARKA staffers who will aid them in the management and accounting of funds collected as well as in creation of a robust list of users of the water source.
Over the past few months, BARKA has engaged as well in a major Social Art collaboration with the OneDrop Foundation and the Espace Culturel Gambidi to reinforce the hygiene education component of the FADA WASH project. In particular, this "spectacle" imparted effective social messages on the issues of improved sanitation, basic hygiene, the need for collecting funds for sustainability (future repairs), the importance of good governance of the water committee, and the key role women play in the management of water resources. The diffusion of the theatrical performance has been realized in each village where the FADA WASH project is being implemented, as well as 14 other villages plus 13 high schools in the region. More than 10 000 people have been sensitized through this social art project.
I have come to work at BARKA during a period of explosive growth for the organization. I myself have been a BARKA supporter and fundraiser for many years. In 2010 as a student at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor, ME, my close friend Christina Long and I organized the first annual Peace, Water, and Wisdom 5k Race to raise money for BARKA and to raise awareness about WASH issues plaguing many around the globe. This year’s race will be our fifth annual event and has been continued by the Student Environmental Action Committee at the school. Over the past five years, the event has raised thousands of dollars for BARKA and I now find myself in a unique position. I have fundraised for the foundation without seeing first hand the impact and the in-country work that has been happening. Here now, I am able to observe and contribute to the incredible and life-changing work in which they engage and from it have gained a new perspective that will most definitely fuel my support and love for this organization. It is a joy to share it with you and hopefully to provide a more tangible sense of the impact your support is having on the ground.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your financial support of The BARKA Foundation, without which this work would not be possible. On behalf of the thousands of rural Burkinabè who are gaining access to sustainable clean water, improved sanitation, and hygiene education through your personal involvement and generosity, I wish to say thank you. Barka!
Best wishes from Burkina,
Today marks the 22nd annual World Day of Water and regardless of the strides that have been made to make water accessible to everyone, 783 million people still do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. When the BARKA Foundation was established in 2006, founders Ina and Esu had one goal: to address the dire water crisis for the people of Burkina Faso. Today, in 2015, their hard work and vision has come a long way.
BARKA is currently implementing a holistic water, sanitation & hygiene education project in 5 villages simultanously. In order to do this successfully, BARKA has established a system of "water accounting", a comprehensive and hi-tech methodology using smartphones and GPS to determine the place where a well is most needed within a community. Right now, BARKA is conducting in-depth surveys with each household in each hamlet, gaining valuable information about how the water needs for people, animals, and economic activities compete against each other. This method analyzes how best to deal with these competing factors and to determine how best to meet a community’s holistic water needs. The data BARKA collects is then uploaded to a cloud server where it can be filtered for specific results. Not only has BARKA’s work taken a quantum leap through the use of this tool, but this data and analysis has become accessible to the villagers, other NGOs, and the Burkinabe government, in an environment where accurate and up-to-date information is a rare and precious commodity.
Also in 2015, BARKA established a partnership with One Drop Foundation, an NGO founded by Guy Laliberte, the CEO of Cirque du Soleil. One Drop will enable BARKA to form a troupe of actors which will be trained by Burkina’s top theatre artists, Espace Cultural Gambidi. After five weeks of training and rehearsal, this troupe will take the show on the road and perform 35 times in 9 villages and 18 schools in just two months, teaching families and students about clean water and proper hygiene and sanitation techniques. BARKA will also be able to purchase professional light and sound equipment to strengthen its future social art efforts and coach the people on how they as a community can create change.
All of this work signifies how much BARKA has grown over the years. Its unique methodology creates a positive change in the lives of the Burkinabé while preserving their culture – something much easier said than done. Ina & Esu's patience, gratitude, and admiration of the people have allowed them to grow in a direction that many other organizations cannot. Not to mention that after 10 years of joyfully working side by side, they have chosen to marry in Fada N’Gourma! Their spirit and open-mindedness have given them the capabilities to mobilize and motivate the Burkinabe to work with them to create change – proof that BARKA will continue to grow.
In light of World Water Day, the large achievements BARKA has made and in joyous celebration of the union between the two people who have made all of this happen, I would like to invite you to join me in making a financial contribution in honor of Ina and Esu’s marriage. There is no better way to show our appreciation of their hard work than providing BARKA with the capability to take its projects to the next level. Together, we will be able to positively change the lives of the Burkinabe by providing them with the clean water and necessary knowledge of hygiene to help them increase their standard of living and live long, healthy lives.
US Volunteer Fundraising Coordinator
Right now we are in Burkina with our brothers and sisters and you are here with us.
BARKA has begun implementing the largest and most complex project in our history- providing water, sanitation & hygiene in 5 villages which will benefit 30,000 people. You help make it happen. We can't do it without you. Thank you for all your support. Barka!
To give you an idea of how BARKA's work is changing people's lives for the better, you need look no further than Tantiaka, the very first village where BARKA drilled a well in 2012. When we arrived, the community grew crops individually and only during the short rainy season. Now, thanks to the new community well which nearly 1000 individual donors like you helped to manifest, Tantiaka grows fresh green vegetables all year long! This not only prevents hunger, it also reduces malnutrition which is rampant in rural villages of Burkina Faso, especially in children under age 5. Villagers of Tantiaka were able to do this only after months of working with Kadidiatou "Tanti" Thiombiano, BARKA's field worker who speaks the local language of Gulimanchema, and who motivated the village women to take their own initiative and work together. When we visit Tantiaka as part of BARKA's ongoing monitoring and evaluation plan, the women gather to greet us with song and dance and always ask us to thank and bless the people from far away who cared enough about them to help their situation.
As BARKA stretches and grows, Rotary clubs from 4 continents, USAID, Winrock International, and One Drop Foundation have joined with us for this next project. We are gathered here in BARKA's new office space in Fada and for the first time in our organization's history have hired fulltime staff-- Pauline Ducreux, Peace Sarambe and Yoni Idrissa to help BARKA succeed in achieving the project's goals and objectives. What all this means is that BARKA is on new ground. Thanks to you we are seeing what began as one well in one village become many many wells in several villages with more on the way. In the coming months, our staff will be trained in a wide range of technical areas including more comprehensive monitoring & evaluation and "water accounting", a holistic measure of a community's true water needs for drinking, agriculture and animals.
Our success to this point has been based solely on determination. Persistence pays off! We are now reaping the rewards of years of hard work and laying the groundwork for what lay ahead. It began with support of family and a few friends. Today, our family of supporters is worldwide and people we've met along the way who have been touched by this work have stepped in beside us.
As BARKA grows and takes on more responsibilities, our financial needs grow. With 2014 at an end, let us come together, all of us to ensure continued growth in 2015. The impact we're able to have is directly proportional to the financial support we receive. Since its inception, BARKA's work has been almost entirely supported by donations from individual donors. Please give as generously as you can in order to help the rural population of Burkina, often referred to as "the poorest of the poor", have a chance to thrive like we all deserve. Help us continue to grow our impact with a financial contribution today. Barka!
To make a secure online donation visit the BARKA project page on GlobalGiving
Or to mail a donation, write a check to BARKA Foundation
and mail to: P.O. Box 2, Burlington, ME 04417
With love and gratitude,
Ina, Esu and The BARKA Foundation team
Fada N'Gourma, Burkina Faso
Dear all of you remarkable supporters of BARKA,
Thanks to your dedication and passion for bringing clean water to the people of Burkina Faso, The BARKA Foundation is the strongest it has ever been since its founding. Every day, BARKA has been reaching new milestones. Ina and Esu are currently on the ground in Burkina Faso and asked me to update you on the latest news. My name is Kim Abuelhaj, a BARKA volunteer based in NYC, working on social media and philanthropy development. For 3 years I served a US Peace Corps Volunteer based in Fada N’Gourma—the capitol of the Eastern Region where BARKA’s Burkina HQ is based.
We would first like to thank Rotary International, which has approved a $100,000 grant to deliver clean drinking water, improved sanitation, and hygiene education for the community and schools of five villages in the commune of Fada. Not only is this BARKA’s largest grant to date, but such generosity just proves how we are in this together and that one day, those communities of Burkina Faso will have a better life.
Subsequently, when USAID’s WASH program in West Africa heard news of such a grant, they were inspired to match the $100,000 gift in order to expand BARKA’s impact. Not only will this kind of assistance provide BARKA with essential technical assistance to increase our work’s efficiency and effectiveness, but it also symbolizes the name BARKA has created in Burkina Faso. That would never have been possible without supporters like you!
In other news, Cirque de Soleil has an NGO called One Drop Foundation, which focuses on Water & Sanitation projects. Their work is similar to that of BARKA’s as they too focus on water, sanitation and hygiene, and also use theatre and cultural arts to get their hygiene messages across. One Drop will be working with BARKA to bring our theatrical presentations to new heights.
Last but not least, your support has allowed BARKA to finally hire three full-time staffers in Burkina Faso. This is such big news as BARKA has been entirely all-volunteer since it began in 2006! Find out who they are and what they do below! They will give us the capacity to branch out to new communities and further develop our water and sanitation projects.
And get this—BARKA needs just $421 to go from being a Global Giving “Leader” organization to a “Superstar”, the highest ranking an organization can receive on the GG website. Help us make it happen with a donation today. Again, thank all of you for your generous support. We are so grateful to have you on our side to bring clean water to the people of Burkina Faso. Your steadfast commitment will help us win the fight against dirty water and poor hygiene and sanitation.
Kim, Ina and Esu and the BARKA team
Dear BARKA Supporters,
BARKA has been hard at work these last few months preparing for its most ambitious project to date: to provide water, sanitation and hygiene for 5 villages which will benefit the lives of 30,000 people. Project partners include The Rotary Foundation, USAID, Winrock International, and One Drop Foundation.
This project is a testament to BARKA's increasing maturity as an organization, and its growing reputation within Burkina Faso as an outfit that does things right. Through technical assistance provided by Winrock and USAID, we will be working at an even deeper and more comprehensive level to create sustainable and transformative change for villagers through the provision of water. BARKA staffers are being trained on a technique known as "water accounting" which takes an entire village's water needs into account, plots all village water points through GPS coordinates and analyzes the optimal way to balance out water needs for drinking, for agriculture/livelihood, and for animals.
We're also very excited about working with One Drop. This is the water NGO formed by Guy Laliberte, the founder of Cirque du Soleil. Like BARKA, One Drop uses theatre and the cultural arts to get across vital messages of basic hygiene and the need for hand washing. One Drop will be training the theatre troupe BARKA already works with, and helping us to reach more people with performances that will be supported by lights, costumes, set design and other spectacular production values.
To help make all this possible, we're hiring our first fulltime employee on September 1st to help coordinate the project and would like to introduce you (see photo below). Her name is Pauline Ducreux, she is from France and recently graduated from BioForce, one of the world's leading schools focusing on water, sanitation and hygiene. Pauline worked with BARKA in Tantiaka and Lampiadi previously and has proven herself as a tremendous asset to the BARKA team on the ground.
We look forward to keeping you abreast of our progress and will be back in touch again before we leave for Burkina Faso.
Thank you for your continued support, understanding and solidarity. We couldn't do this without you!
Ina & Esu
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Founder of BARKA foundation