Burkina Faso's Migrant Sons and Daughters Return

Burkina Faso's Migrant Sons and Daughters Return

By: George Gitau, Compassion Burkina Faso Country Director   |   Posted: January 20, 2006

Compassion Offers Stability and Hope

Taonsa Adama (right) stands with his sister and mom outside the Burkinabe family's one-room shanty. A government official recently explained why Burkina Faso is the most stable nation in West Africa: "We have nothing that anybody would want to fight for -- no diamonds, gold or oil."

Editor's Note: Compassion began ministry in Burkina Faso in July 2004. In this West African nation, six out of every 10 families live on less than $1 a day and 37 percent of the children suffer from severe malnutrition. HIV/AIDS and recent civil strife in neighboring countries, particularly Cô´¥ d'Ivoire (the Ivory Coast), have compounded this destitute nation's woes. Thanks to faithful Compassion sponsors, hope and stability are bringing healing to the nearly 4,000 children registered in Compassion Burkina Faso's program. 

Taonsa Adama's story is one shared by thousands of Burkinabe children. He is a refugee, recently returned to the land of his ancestors -- Burkina Faso.

For years, Burkina Faso's high population density and few natural resources compelled some 3 million Burkinabe to migrate to neighboring countries to find work, mostly in Cô´¥ d'Ivoire. Since 2002 when civil war split that country, however, thousands of Burkinabe have had to move back to their destitute homeland. The Adamas are among these recent returnees.

"Burkina Faso may not be embroiled in wars, but its people are hard hit with the bullets of despairing poverty," a Compassion Africa staffer explains.

A Nomadic Existence  

Taonsa's father was among those who migrated to Cô´¥ d'Ivoire years ago, desperate to build a better life. Tragically, he died before Taonsa reached his fifth birthday. Following his father's death, life became miserable for Taonsa, his two sisters and their mom, Ouedraogo.

In 2002 it got much worse following the civil war in Cô´¥ d'Ivoire. Ivoirians began attacking foreigners from neighboring countries, believing they were responsible for their nation's troubles. As a result, thousands of families were forced to return to their homelands, including the Adamas.

Wearing only the clothes on their backs, the family of four made the long, arduous journey to Burkina Faso on foot. But instead of their relatives welcoming them with hugs and home-cooked meals, the Adamas experienced added grief. None of the relatives wanted to host the widow and her three children.

Thankfully, Ouedraogo found temporary shelter in a squatter's community in Burkina Faso's capital city, Ouagadougou. Her shelter is a single room constructed of red mud bricks with a leaky tin roof and no toilets or potable water. To make ends meet, the hard-working mother began to gather and sell sand from the city's dry riverbeds.

Compassion Arrives

Stability and security finally knocked on the refugee family's door when, in July 2004, Compassion Burkina Faso opened a child development center not far from the Adama's home. Taonsa was immediately registered.

"The Compassion program has been wonderful to me," says Taonsa. "Before I joined, my sisters and I used to spend all day without food. I couldn't attend school either. But with the blessings of the Compassion program, I am able to attend school. With my sponsor's help, I know my future is now secure!"

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