Two young girls entertain each other as they wait their turn for water at a public well near Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.
Unlike most poor countries in West Africa, Burkina Faso is relatively stable. That's one of the reasons why Compassion has chosen this Colorado-sized country for ministry expansion. It is also one of the world's poorest countries. According to the United Nations' Human Development Index, only Niger and Sierra Leone are more impoverished.
George Gitau will be heading up the new country office. For the past six years, he has served as Compassion country director in Kenya. Describing the situation in Burkina Faso, George says, "The children are deprived of even the most basic education and health care. More than half are forced to work, many in exploitative situations, suffering physical and sexual abuse. In fact, Burkina Faso is a source, transit and destination country for internationally trafficked children who are sold into slavery."
Although 50 percent of the people are Muslims, the evangelical Church is growing and desperately needs to partner with Compassion to bring assistance to the country's children. "The church leaders are very upbeat and excited about working with us," George says. "Finding church partners will not be a problem."
Wess Stafford, Compassion president, says, "Enabling those churches to reach out with the gospel will touch the hearts of West Africans and build the Kingdom of God in exciting ways." Having recently secured office space in the capital city of Ouagadougou and begun the process of hiring country office staff, the expansion effort in Burkina Faso is on schedule for launching initial projects in July 2004.
"To start, we plan to open seven projects and register 1,400 children in the Ouagadougou area," George explains. "God willing, by July 2005, we will have 4,000 children."
We appreciate your faithful prayers and support as we strive to bring the hope of Christ's love to Burkina Faso's hurting children.
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