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Burkina Faso Fall Update

In March 2020, schools, public transportation, and markets shut down. A 7:00 pm curfew was established. In late April, grade nine students were able to return with safety measures to write essential exams. As of October, we are happy to report that all children have been able to resume classes, while the church was allowed to reopen in July.

Yet, the impact of the shutdowns on the community of Gampela has been major. Many families found themselves facing severe hunger. Inflated food prices exacerbated the risk of famine, driven primarily by COVID-related market and trade disruptions, but also by terrorism activity which has created, according to the New York Times, “a sea of jihadist insecurity.” About 1,000,000 people have fled their homes. Many of these escaped to the north of the capital city, not far from Gampela.
John was fielding regular requests for help and saw the writing on the wall.
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The centre put out the call, and Hope Story supporters like you provided an emergency food relief program this summer. The chief of the Gampela region and councillors in the local government helped administer the aid. Thousands of families were surveyed across a total of 9 neighbourhoods in the area.

In total, over 500 vulnerable families were identified and supported with food relief.

Families paid 50% or 25% of market prices, while others were completely subsidized. It was a massive undertaking for the Gampela Centre.
“When you see the joy on their faces when they get this food, it makes you realize the extent of their need – sometimes I couldn’t help it and I got emotional,” he said.
When the time was right, John often shared with the crowds why they were doing this work – that each of them was loved by God and by the Church.
“We distributed everything, but I held onto a bag of rice just in case,” John shared. It turned out to be desperately needed.
 
 
 
 
 

An August 2020 report of the Burkina Faso government indicates the displacement of families from such attacks has increased by about 100% from early 2020. The U.S. Bureau of Counterterrorism wrote that the largest attacks in 2019 were at the hands of jihadist groups JNIM and ISIS-GS.

We thank you for your prayers, and we can share that the Gampela community in central Burkina Faso has remained safe. In fact, by the grace of God, the Gampela School continues to grow. This fall, it has admitted over 400 children – up from 340 children a year ago. The school food program has resumed, bringing smiles to many children!

We thank God for the additional classrooms that Canadian donors built last year – if it were not for those classrooms, the school would not be able to accommodate so many students. This school year we will need to build three additional classrooms as well as a storage room to accommodate the Centre’s growth.

Although delayed, the Gampela Centre continues to push forward with its plans to establish a vocational school. Training has resumed for 15 adults in October in sewing and weaving, with more joining after their crops are harvested. We are seeking support to
grow this outreach, which requires building facilities and the hiring of staff to teach additional trades. A masonry program that the Centre hoped to launch has been put on pause due to a lack of space and will have to await a dedicated vocational skills training building.

Meanwhile, John and his assistant pastor Matthew have begun offering church services on Sunday at a new second location in a nearby village, after noticing that more than a dozen individuals wanted to attend from the area but struggled to travel.

Please pray for the safety of the students and teachers, for the adults embarking on new skills to earn a living, for the growing congregation, and the Gampela leadership – that they may find the strength, wisdom, and resources to continue on this outreach journey and to grow where the need is greatest.

 
 
 
 
 

Read our latest story from Burkina Faso about a 7-year old girl who walked 250km

John encountered a mother, Elenne, and her three children, aged two, four, and seven. They had travelled 250 km by foot over 20 days after terrorists attacked their remote village. She shared that the terrorists killed her husband, and her 14-year-old son fled – she does not know where he is. The mother and her younger children survived only by handouts from strangers along the way.

As she shared her story, John was brought to tears. He asked how she walked so far with the children. The youngest went in a wrap, Elenne explained, while the toddler sat on her shoulders, and the seven-year-old walked on her own. The young boy was disguised as a girl to keep him safe.

Elenne was en route to find her parents, in a village east of the capital, and still some distance away. John and his family at the Gampela Centre brought them into their home, fed them, gave them food for the weeks ahead, and bought the family bus tickets to reach their destination.

 
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Read our latest stories from Burkina Faso, Gampela Centre

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