The FAVL-supported libraries in Burkina Faso have had several tough years. A civil war, which started in 2016, has grown rapidly, and has pitted various Islamist-oriented groups (whose first actions are to close schools and insist that schooling be in Arabic, a language that few people in the country speak) against the Burkinabè military (which overthrew the democratic government in January 2022, suspended local government, and then perpetrated another coup within military ranks late-September of this year). The upshot of the conflict is that 12 libraries have been closed. The FAVL representative in Burkina Faso, Sanou Dounko, continues to visit libraries that remain open, in secure areas. The office pivoted to a major initiative, the production of 10,000 copies of 50 illustrated books written and illustrated by residents of the town of Houndé. The books have been distributed to libraries that are open. This coming year our goal is to produce and distribute 50,000 copies. We are also exploring how we can expand the variety of books produced. We’d love to have a young adult science fiction series for readers in Burkina Faso.
This project did not received donations in 2022, and so consequently we carried out no trainings in the latter half of the year. We look forward to more computer-training workshops in 2023 should funding permit.
We would like to make progress in organizing computing classes for young women, but unfortunately the security situation in Burkina Faso continues to deteriorate. Over the past year the communities in the Houndé area have been attacked several times. The gendarmerie of Houndé itself, where our small computer center is located, was attacked just last week. This insecurity makes it hard for FAVL and partner personnel to carry out activities. Moreover, the military government, which took power in a coup d'état in January 2022, suspended local civilian leadership, replacing it with military appointed local leadership. These leaders have little legitimacy and authority, and are unable to act as good partners. So progress has slowed. We continue to regularly reach out to local partners, both informally and in government, to try to assess when we might be able to make more progress.
In the meantime, FAVL has focused in Burkina Faso on our project to print 10,000 copies of 50 titles in our "local authors" series, many of them authoried by young women who have participated in our training activities in Houndé. These are short illustrated books for young readers, photocopied. We anticipate finishing these in September, and distributing 250 copies to each of the libraries in Tuy province, around the Houndé area.
We thank you for your continued support during these troubling times for Burkina Faso.
This project has not received many donations over the last three months, so we have not done a regular training in the Hounde multi-media center recently. So there is nothing to report on that front. We hope you will continue to donate however and we at FAVL look forward to more trainings.
We did instead have a training in how to protect books using transparent plaasatic sticky book cover material. This is available for purchae in Burkina Faso for about $2 per meter, enough to cover 6 books. So reasonably cost-effective. The team learned to cover the books in a training in Bobo-Dioulasso, and then applied it in the office in Ouagadougou. They are looking forward to training librarians in how to do this work.
Young women from Karaba village continue to be trained on Saturdays in basic computer usage at the Houndé Multimedia Center. They are also working on documents that they hope to turn into books that are then locally printed and illustrated. One of the photos is of a young woman in Karaba Library reading one of the CMH books. She told the FAVL animator she wanted to join the group and write her own book. We look forward to continuing to support these young women as they acquire skills and self-esteem for the 21st century. We would like in future to hire a full-time staff person to be doing training every afternoon.
Activities at the Multimedia Center continue with regular training sessions for young women from neighboring villages.
Our coordinator writes (translated from French):
The multimedia center of Houndé completed its training of a second group of young women from Karaba in computer tools. It was June 26 at the Houndé Multimedia Center. They were 10 young women to participate with assiduity in this training which lasted 8 days. It was also an opportunity for them to learn how to write children's books. It is with great joy that they receive their training certificates at the Karaba community library. According to the young women they plan to continue working on the book texts they have been developing so that FAVL might eventually print and distribute them to village libraries.
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