Students pose for photo in front of new latrines
Dear BARKA Friend and Supporter,
Our 84-year old advisor Bill is always telling us what we’re doing is extraordinary and asking us to bring more people around the table. We want you to know that you occupy a seat at BARKA’s table. You are here because you are part of The BARKA Foundation’s innermost circle of friends. 2015 has been a landmark year for BARKA and we could not have done it without you.
Here are some highlights:
- Completion of the largest projects we’ve implemented to date, with a combined project budget of $250,000, including working in 5 villages on three different projects simultaneously. These included: Drilling 4 wells in 4 rural villages, constructing latrines for boys, girls and, teachers in 4 primary schools, and sensitizing 14 villages in basic hygiene practices
- The Impact of BARKA’s water, sanitation and hygiene education projects in rural villages reached over 20,000 direct beneficiaries, and over 50,000 indirect beneficiaries
- The year's work also included capacity building for 4 villages to be able to maintain and sustain the wells, latrines and hygiene education. Over the course of months of meetings with villagers, BARKA provided technical training to village primary school teachers, water point committees, hygienists (village change agents), and mechanics to maintain the wells for sustainability
- BARKA launched a “Social Art” initiative designed to reinforce hygiene education through theatre sensitizement which proved highly effective
- We formed a 10-person professional theatre troupe which received training from the most renowned performing art center in Burkina Faso; the creative team, of which we were an integral part, created the play which contained social messages about hygiene, the need for good governance, and the importance of the role of women in water resource management
- The play was performed 32 times in 45 days at the hottest time of the year—often above 120F!
- This was one of the most rewarding endeavors BARKA has done to date and we intend to integrate this kind of “sensibilization theatrale” in all our future work
- For the first time in its history, BARKA established an office in Fada, ramped up from 4 to 24 employees at peak implementation, purchased a used 4x4 vehicle, and secured professional sound and light equipment and a platform stage for social art
- At the same time, we’ve created efficiencies that allow us to run the entire BARKA operation on the ground for under $5000/month that includes a staff of 9 + 2 interns
- BARKA had its largest operating budget ever: $150,000, a 40% increase from 2014
With such success comes an increased responsibility to be accountable, transparent and to measure the impact of our work in the field. This requires increased resources to achieve a new level of diligence we feel we must now meet. We’re also interviewing new people to focus on program development and administration, however we can’t bring them on yet because we don’t have the funding. That’s right, we’ve been so focused on the work on the ground, we haven’t been able to concentrate on raising funds. As you know, we’re the ones doing the work ourselves with the BARKA staff, and our attention this year was needed on management and implementation. However our sole objective now is to share this incredible story and to secure operational funds for the coming year so that we have enough resources to continue growing and to attract talented people on to the team.
On a more personal note, we’d like to share with you a little of what the past year was like for us. In 2015 we will have spent 10 months on the ground in Burkina Faso. The majority of those days were above 100 degrees F. To be frank, this work is not easy. We both got malaria- thrice for Ina and twice for Esu-- and typhoid fever- once for Ina and twice for Esu. We witnessed floods, crop failures, and increased effects of climate change. We were on the ground during a coup d’etat and marched in the streets with the population that rose up and successfully overthrew first a dictator, and later an attempted coup by the old regime’s presidential guard. We bore witness to the revolutionary flame that burns within Burkinabe that is giving rise to true democracy and recently the nation succeeded in its first fair and free election in almost 30 years. We are holding the hands of the people and walking alongside them, listening to the drumbeat of the culture. In the process, BARKA has created a family of committed and dedicated individuals who are deeply committed to doing good work on the ground and making a difference.
We want to remind you that Burkina Faso is one of the most impoverished nations on the planet, that clean water is most often completely unavailable, and that children often go to bed hungry. The hospitals, schools and other services are severely lacking in the most basic amenities. In Fada N’Gourma, the city where we live, electricity and water sometimes shut off for days at a time. And when water again flows from the tap, it’s brown or black. Yet despite the difficult challenges and sacrifices involved in living and working here, we truly feel like the lucky ones. We feel blessed to be able to do this work, to enable BARKA to be a link between the indigenous and modern paradigms, connecting people, raising awareness, and enriching the lives of some of the poorest people in the world.
We have a clear direction for 2016. BARKA is working deeper with the 9 villages with which we’ve already established relationships. With water and sanitation now secured in several communities, we are turning to other critical areas such as:
- A reforestation project which empowers women through small sustainable businesses
- A social enterprise to produce water filters to provide safe water and storage in the home
- A collaboration with UNICEF to assist girls in school with menstrual hygiene management
We need your continued support to fuel and expand this work. Our year-end fundraising campaign is setting an ambitious goal to raise $60,000 which would enable us to cover our operational costs for all of 2016. Won’t you please help us meet or exceed this goal by making as generous a gift as possible to ensure the continued growth and success of BARKA’s work? Donations to BARKA are 100% tax-deductible. Please consider being a part of the extraordinary growth and impact on the ground that awaits us all in 2016. Thank you for your support and for sitting around the table with us.
‘Barka’ is an African word of gratitude, blessing & reciprocity. BARKA!
Four more positive borehole wells drilled in 2015!