Dear BARKA Foundation Supporters,
My name is Alleigh VandeMerkt and I am a new intern for the BARKA Foundation this summer. I am a sophomore, business major at Endicott College and have been working to bolster BARKA's social media. Recently, BARKA has been preparing for its annual strategic retreat which will take place in Maine during the last weekend in June. Just hours after the retreat, Ina and Esu will leave for Burkina to lay the groundwork for several projects on the ground in Burkina Faso.
BARKA will continue its hygiene education program in the village of Tantiaka and will meet with the village of Lampiadi to prepare for the water and hygiene project there later this year. Rotary International recently granted BARKA and the Marblehead Rotary Club $36,000 which will cover the cost of drilling the new well and hygiene program for the village. We are thrilled to receive the single largest grant in our organization's history, however it covers only project costs. There are still many expenses that go into implementing such a project which we need to raise. We appreciate your continued support to help make that possible!
In other news, BARKA is creating new ways to connect with our community. For the past few weeks, I have worked closely with Ina & Esu, BARKA's co-founders, to be able to share latest news and new photos regularly on Facebook and Twitter. We also now have a presence on Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest. I encourage you to check out the many new photos that have been uploaded including: pictures of the BARKA Headquarters in Unorganized Territory, Maine, pictures from the village of Tantiaka, and photos from the Peace, Water, and Wisdom run that was organized by John Bapst High School and more. Please connect with us on any of these websites. We would love to hear from you.
We look forward to keeping you updated on the work being done in Burkina this summer through our social networks and newsletters. As always, we are incredibly grateful to be on this wonderful journey together.
Alleigh VandeMerkt and the BARKA Staffin US and Burkina Faso
Dear BARKA Foundation Supporters,
For the past several months the BARKA staff has been hard at work planning the details of Phase Two of the project you've already donated to here on Global Giving. BARKA's new Country Coordinator, Pauline Ducreux (see photo below), is forming partner relations on the ground in Burkina Faso and helping us to detail the expenses for the project's forthcoming activities which include:
BARKA's two award-winning country-based partners include Association Chant de Femmes (The Association of the Song of the Women, which works with over 250 villages in eastern Burkina) and Tin Tua (which runs literacy programs in local languages and distributes the Multi-Function Platforms).
We anticipate returning to Burkina later this year to begin implementation on this next phase of the project. We are estimating its impact to reach beyond Tantiaka and positively benefit at least 2500 people.
We look forward to keeping you abreast of the latest developments and give thanks to you for your continued support of this important work. We can't do it without you! Together, we are changing the world.
Ina & Esu and the BARKA staff
Dear BARKA Supporter,
We wanted to reach out to you to share some wonderful news: BARKA has received two major gifts totaling $5000. We'd like to specifically acknowledge an anonymus donor and The Frederika and Wardner Gilroy Foundation and its Trustees Glen and Lesley Niemy for their generous contributions and unyielding faith in the work of The BARKA Foundation.
The situation in Burkina Faso has worsened since our last project report. Political instability to the north in Mali, increased climate variability, a rapidly growing population, declining soil fertility and rising costs of agricultural inputs have led to predictions of catastrophic famine and food insecurity in the Sahel. Your support of BARKA's work in Burkina is now more important than ever.
After the successful implementation of the WASH project in Tantiaka earlier this year, which you helped us to accomplish, we are preparing for next steps. Phase 2 of the project in Tantiaka involves the women of the village. They asked BARKA to help them secure a machine to grind the millet which will save hours of labor each day. Not only is this a time-saving technology, it will also lead to the creation of many small sustainable businesses providing social and economic independence to women for the first time in their lives.
In addition, we've identified a new village which desperately needs a well. Women of Lampiadi, a rural village close to Tantiaka, walk 7km every day for water. Can you imagine?! The village is so determined to address this dire need that villagers organized a water & sanitation committee on its own and even raised $1000-- an enormous sum in a village where the average income is roughly $.50/day.
BARKA is currently raising funds to return to Burkina to implement Phase 2 in Tantiaka and Phase 1 (clean water & hygiene education) in Lampiadi. Won't you join us as we move forward and deepen our work and commitment to the people of Burkina?
Meanwhile, there's lots going on at home in the US:
Thank you for walking this sacred path together with us. We are honored to walk alongside you. We send early holiday greetings and blessings for vibrant health and deep peace for the new year. Barka!
We are settling back in the rhythm of life here in the USA after three grueling, swelteringly hot and productive 3+ months in Burkina. Here is an update of the miraculous work that took place on the ground between March and June:
It is hard to describe the joy of the reunion with the villagers of Tantiaka after being away more than two years. This has become our family and although it was hard to be gone from them for so long, we wanted to make sure we had the financial resources to complete the first phase of the project-- to drill the well and build composting latrines for the village. With your steadfast and patient support, we were able to do exactly that.
Working hand in hand with the local governmental authorities (Prefect and Mayor), the traditional authorities (particularly Lompo, the king of 44 villages), and the local water & sanitation steering committee (consisting of and appointed by villagers themselves) we met with the entire village numerous times. These meetings were conducted in the local language (made possible by BARKA's fantastic local partners) and focused on the need for improved sanitation, as well as teaching the principles of basic hygiene. In a community where open defecation is the norm, behavior change is the name of the game and doesn't come easy. Thankfully, the village was with us and understood the need for these changes to sustain the benefits of clean water and to improve overall health for all.
From the moment we arrived in Burkina we began searching for the best local partner to drill the well. When we found OCADES we knew we had found the right one. They guarantee their work for a year, have an optional training program to teach people how to troubleshoot problems down the road, and were meticulous in finding the perfect spot to drill for water (working with the village committee at every step). By Earth Day on April 22nd, the planet had its newest borehole in the ground. The well drillers said it was among the best they had ever seen in terms of its depth and flow rate. The water was tested and proved to be good drinking water. Over the next 6 weeks, a concrete platform was built, the wheel pump was installed (we opted for the wheel because it makes for easier and less laborious access), and a reservoir was constructed where animals will be able to make use of any excess water from the well.
Simultaneously, project partner ONEA (the national sanitation company) was working with villagers to construct the gender-specific composting latrines. These latrines make use of a simple and innovative technology that successfully transforms humanure into agricultural fertilizer. This embodies BARKA's commitment to low-tech sustainable solutions that are appropriate for rural communities. ONEA also hired specialists to lead village meetings which focused on how to use and maintain the latrines, and why improved sanitation is healthier than open defecation.
By the end of May we were ready to inaugurate the new well and composting latrines. By this time BARKA had successfully made several new relationships with potential future partners and they all came to see the results of our efforts in the field. USAID, the US Embassy, heads of international NGOs and country-based organizations traveled far (some almost 4 hours) to come and celebrate with us. BARKA's robust hygiene education program continued with a theatrical performance in the local language emphasizing how to make the best use of their new source for clean water and how to avoid health problems. And in keeping with BARKA's belief that local culture must be a strong component within development, a traditional dance troupe performed and electrified us all with its tam tams (big, deep sounding drums) and crowd-pleasing dance moves. Many VIPs spoke including the local king and Prefect. In addition, a BARKA partner from 2009, the National Lottery of Burkina (LONAB) which is a private company announced a generous donation to BARKA Foundation. Lastly, in a symbolic effort to unite indigenous Africa with the indigenous people of the United States, we sang the Native American Water Song as an official representative of LONAB turned the wheel of the well. We ended the Inauguration with a conference call to all US donors as a way to literally bring our supporters to the party. And of course, there was then a big feast. Villagers rose to the occasion by preparing enough food and local millet beer to feed the six villages which came to the blessed event.
In short, it was a high point of our lives. The fulfillment of this promise seems to have opened many doors both in Burkina and internationally and we're now preparing for BARKA's next steps which will include ongoing work with Tantiaka (more on that in the next project report) and plans for a new well in another village where women currently have to walk 7 kilometers every day for water. We are humbled by the knowledge that we could not have achieved this without you and are grateful beyond words. Please share this beautiful and inspiring story with your friends and family to garner more support for more successful projects in Burkina Faso.
On behalf of the villagers of Tantiaka, we say barka to you-- bless you, thank you.
Ina & Esu
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Founder of BARKA foundation