It's hard to imagine letting your sick child wait to see a doctor because it simply was too much of a hassle to get them there. By morning, the fever, vomiting and dehydration kills them. Why would a parent ever wait to take their child to the hospital when they are that ill?
Unfortunately, in Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa, this is the daily reality for many families.
According to Katy Cornell, CEO of Walk in the Light International (WITLI), a nonprofit dedicated to transforming Burkina Faso through community development, the lack of access to health care and even health facilities makes death a regular visitor in the villages.
Cornell, who spoke at the Sept. 1 Rotary meeting, said the people living there often become "hardened" to the sight of death because of its daily occurrence. For many villagers, a trip to a health care facility is a long and hard journey, and even upon arrival, there is no guarantee the staff can help with the medical issue.
"When you see it all the time, it is not pressing to them," she said. "They wait until tomorrow (to see a doctor), and then they die."
But Cornell and her staff at Walk in the Light International have been working in the country since 2009 to lead communities to easy access to health care and education. In a country where literacy rates hover right around 22%, that hasn't been an easy feat.
At the meeting, Cornell also introduced three guests from Burkina Faso, including left to right, Viviane Ouedraogo, sponsorship director, Gerard Ouedraogo, the in-country director; and Adama Ouedraogo, village director. All three thanked the Silverdale Rotary for donations that helped fund much-needed facilities in their region, and told of how WITLI has made a difference in their own lives.
Silverdale Rotary provided a nearly $6,000 grant in October 2015 to the nonprofit to assist in medical needs. The funds provided a hospitalization room, which included 4 hospital beds, 4 patient stations, a medicine cabinet, wheel chair, supplies, etc. The grant also paid for a patient room (1 exam table, mattress, desk, exam tools, etc.), and an overnight nurse room (1 bed, closet, desk, etc.).
"You guys have made an amazing difference in Burkina Faso," Cornell told the Rotarians.
Throughout the presentation, Cornell offered an update on how the organization's first group of students recently graduated, ready to move on to secondary education. With the school Walk in the Light International funds have built, more than 700 students in the region now attend, and the students have a 98% passing rate. The country's normal passing rate is about 60%, Cornell said.
Cornell answered questions from Rotarians, including ones about WITLI's micro loan program. Since starting the program, many women have discovered how to support their families through various businesses, including soap making, pig breeding, spice sharing, and more. As the women make enough money to support their families, they also slowly payback the loans, which in turn get rolled into a new micro loan for another woman, Cornell explained. Along the way, Viviane Ouedraogo coaches the women to help them stay on track and motivated.
Silverdale Rotary funded the soap-making business, which has done quite well, according to Cornell. Samples of the shea butter soap — large, lumpy balls with a yellow tint — were passed around for Rotarians to see.
As of today, around seven loans need funding, Cornell said. On WITLI's website, http://www.witli.com
, anyone can donate and see a running tally of how far each loan is from being fully funded. Donations are also accepted at Lisa Stirrett's studio in Silverdale.
Background: On September 1, President Cindy announced that all items for the Burkina Faso School - Cindy's President's Project - will be presented to the Walk in the Light team at Rotary on September 22. So there is still time to donate cash or French books. See below for the list of titles. Also, see photos of items already purchased using donations from Rotarians - thanks to Mechelle Hoerer for doing some awesome shopping!
Also at the September 1 meeting - Katy Cornell, founder of Walk in the Light in Burkina Faso, and her visitors from Burkina Faso described their life changing work.
Thanks to those Rotarians who have donated French children's books and cash for school supplies for the President’s Project a school in Burkina Faso, West Africa. It was established by the organization Walk in the Light International. The Vatao School has 160 students and they desperately need back packs and specific school supplies. The Community Service Committee is using cash donations to leverage the price by buying in bulk.
Here is a suggested list of French-language books needed for the library. Amazon is a great resource for books in French. The students are 2nd-4th graders, but books can also be read to the students by the teachers. See the suggested list below:
Little engine that could Make way for ducklings
Because of Win-Dixie Narnia books
Bridge to Terebithia Dr Suess books
Amelia Bedelia books Eric Carle Books
Curious George books Peter Rabbit Series
Charlotte’s Web Millions of Cats
Blueberries for Sal Magic Treehouse Series
Winnie-the-Pooh Series Stuart Little
Railway Children series Frog and Toad series
Swiss Family Robinson The Secret Garden
The Wind in the Willows Holes
Black Beauty Treasure Island
Peter Pan Olivia Series
Strega Nona To Kill a Mockingbird
When you give a mouse a cookie series
Charlie and Chocolate Factory
Madeline Books (for sure, about a French girl!)
Matilda Little Bear Series
Amelia Bedelia The Snowy Day
The Giving Tree Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series
Good Dog Carl series All the “I Can Read” books
Babar Series Richard Scarry books
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
Corduroy series Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Wizard of Oz series Caps for Sale
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible No Good, Very Bad Day
Posted by Mechelle Hoerer on Facebook on September 4:
For more information about Walk in the Light International, visit:
Facebook: Walk in the Light International