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Saturday, August 31, 2013
Seeds of Brotherhood. “Teens4Unity” project that combines concrete support and an educational approach guided by principles of solidarity and reciprocity

Burkino Faso, “the land of upright people,” is a country in West Africa. It is one of the poorest countries in the world. The population is concentrated in the south centre of the country but, due to the high rate of unemployment, many migrate seasonally to neighbouring countries. A great part of its economy is financed by international aid.

Bobo-Dioulasso is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural city due to its historical role as a crossroad of the Saharan commercial routes. Since 2005 the Teens4Unity Association has been promoting the Seeds of Brotherhood project in Sarfalao, one of the poorest quarters in the city, which is geared towards youths and teenagers. The project, which is inserted into the partnering project (Schoolmates), involves teens from the North to the South of the globe, offering after-school scholarships to anyone who is unable to attend school due to cost and conditions of poverty.

Over the years, the project was then expanded to offer an ever growing number of teens the possibility of scholastic support and social training courses by academic level. Some needed help in English, some in Mathematics, some in French, and so on. The goal: to help them pass their final examinations.

Thanks to the scholarship, two students attended a professional training course; one is learning sewing and another is training to be a professional hair-dresser.

The poorest youths, along with their families, are provided a daily meal that for many is the only meal of the day.

In the area of sport, with help from the Registry of Sport in Austria, they have been able to construct a canopied playing area, a fence and a storage building for equipment.

Through the project teachers are able to purchase the costly school materials that are then sold to families at a reduced price which they can afford. This allows the parents to feel part of their own children’s education.

Everything is carried out in an attitude of deep respect for the human dignity of each person, in a reciprocal exchange of giving and striving to create relationship among teachers and students and families. Some mothers, for example, willingly cook for everyone each day. They are given a small stipend that helps them to care for their families. One boy, who receives assistance through the project, wanted to offer something in return and built a swing for the younger children.

There are also many moments for play and being together, cooking, learning to make paper flowers, eating sweets, cakes and jam . . . having a great time together!

During one meeting with the young people, there was a discussion about the rights and duties of the children and youths. When someone asked if anyone could name one right that young teenagers have, one boy immediately answered: “To love!”