ABAPE, Burkina Faso

Playing a part to the harmonious development for burkinabè autistic children.

by Anastasie Obi

 

Abape

Somewhere in West Africa, there is a region characterized by the particular kindness of its inhabitants. A people so little ill-intended that even the crocodiles in the Bazoulè village, not far from the capital, live amongst them for centuries without ever attacking them. Not even once. A country that inherited its improvement and integrity willpower from the bravery of its historical figureheads. It's called Burkina Faso. Even now, the Burkinabè are still inspired by this impetus to hardly but surely spur its development. Although regarding mineral, natural and agricultural resources this country is one of the most important in the world, it’s still one of the poorest. Its resources mainly contributed to the development of Western countries as for all rich former colonies. This has probably helped to make laborious the setting up of an environment conducive to the evolvement and development of children with disorders that expose the obscurantism of their society, such as autism.

Burkinabè's understanding of autism is strongly related to their culture, based largely on "magical-religious" beliefs. For instance, some say that a child is born autistic because its mother didn’t respect the rituals during her pregnancy. She washed inter alia after 8:00 pm, exposing herself to jinn and other evil spirits. This analogy between autistic children and jinn stigmatizes them within society. A stigma that explains why some parents tie their children at home, so that nobody knows they have one. This disorder is barely known as a disease in this region, which has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world. Then it’s a huge issue to integrate these children into the education system in this country. Nevertheless living up to their reputation exemplifying their revolution willpower, increasingly Burkinabè parents are orienting their children for care to some few institutions that are established. Concrete steps that foster the integration and inclusion of these stigmatized children are led by deeply committed local organizations. Among them, the NGO ABAPE’s autistic center, located in Ouagadougou.

Abape

This center takes in children diagnosed with autism from 2 to 5 years, who are in kindergarten. It also supports those aged 7 to 13 who cannot enter a standard school due to the severity of their behavioural disorders. They thus provide psycho-educational, socio-educational and learning care. Since they don’t have standard schools where they can integrate these children, they have built a partnership with a private school and trained an AVS's (School Aids) to monitor the children. They also benefit from the expertise of institutions such as PSF (Psychomotricité Sans Frontière) and ODM (Orthophonistes Du Monde), for the capacity building of the center, whose team is made up of psychologists, instructors and volunteers. Like all local non-profit organizations, ABAPE faces huge difficulties that limit access to such initiatives to far too many children, whose over 90% are from very poor families. This requires resources mobilization that isn’t unfortunately just financial regarding the care of these children. The country lacks specialists. Even in the medical profession, the resources to diagnose autistic children are limited

The country doesn’t lack resources or opportunities for anyone who would like to play a part to improving the development tools of initiatives such as the ABAPE center. Maybe a genius, who will actively contribute in the overdevelopment of his country, will emerge among these special children. It’s enough to know that last year alone, the both smartest students at the second level of elementary school class, in the partner private school mentioned above, were children from the ABAPE center. They have been enrolled in standard schools this year. You may not even picture the joy and pride of their family. This shows that they are not working for nothing and comfort them in their actions. Actions they hope that the results will promote their program to benefit to more children with autism. You can take a first step by contacting Mr. Boukari Pamtaba, Promoter of the ABAPE center and psychologist. He will be in the best position to let you know how you can play a part in the improvement effort by supporting Burkinabè autistic children.

Contact M. Boukari: mail : [email protected], phone : (+226) 76561123

Future Stars, Ghana

HOPE AT THE BRINK OF HOPELESSNESS

future-starsBuduburam is a settlement in the central region of Ghana. It maintains a continuity with other towns along the stretch which opens into the capital city, Accra, located about 44 kilometres to the east. While its proximity to the capital is appealing for a location, it is rather famous for its breadth of hospitability. It is the largest refugee settlement in Ghana and provides a home for over 30,000 people. Buduburam was a positive reaction in 1990 by UNHCR, to the Liberian civil war and the subsequent arrival of survivors in Ghana, to ease away their memories of brutality and loss, in safety. Consequently, Buduburam is a buzz with a mix of lifestyles dominated by Liberian and Ghanaian.

Shelter and food are basic needs, but they are only part of the requirements for sustenance. Even though relief agencies provide support to sustain lives of beneficiaries, other deprivations mar the outlook of the Buduburam project. It is unfortunate to recognize that education is an alienation for a significant number of children in this locale. Parental neglect, parental loss, lack of resources and facilities, complicate this sad situation. The health burden is obviously worse, with health seeking behaviour limited by ignorance, financial constraints, and lack of resources and facilities.

At the heart of this humanitarian settlement, and out of this abyss of hopelessness from the prevailing situation, a charity innovation emerged. Future stars is a non-governmental organization, which was established in January 2010, and leverages reachable resources to house and school underprivileged children. While it appears as a story to just admire, this charity thrives beyond its control, on a sustainability which is shaking. It has had, and continues to have its fair share of struggles. It provides shelter and schooling for its beneficiaries in rented apartments. It also depends on volunteers to complement its limited staff, which strive to combine the roles of guardians, caregivers and teachers each day. At the brink of bowing to challenges, this facility continues to welcome and empower children from kindergarten to grade six. The current lack of facilities for grades seven through nine, adds an extra responsibility of sponsoring qualifying wards in other schools. The health burden is complicated. It relies on volunteer healthcare professionals to provide screenings and other modalities of primary care. future-stars1However, the lack of adequate housing and feeding facilities creates an obstacle. Volunteers are further burdened with the cost of accommodation and feeding, if they have to spend the night. This is potentially deterring for willing volunteers who are unable to manage the extra financial burden. Interestingly, the stakeholders keep their drive for humanitarianism awakened in another project, an advocacy for the elimination of child trafficking, which hinges on awareness creation and public education.

The touching part of the Future Stars story lies with the stakeholders’ undying drive for sustainability and expansion, to facilitate increased admissions and better living conditions for wards. This dream lingers, as the building project and plans for additional staff and resources cannot be realised due to lack of funds and support. Consequently, the future of 35 children currently being housed, out of the total of 135 being schooled, and many more children whose lives could be changed, dangles at the mercy of benevolent patrons. To help Future Stars in their endeavours to change the fate of these underprivileged children, you can visit their site and contribute using their Donate section. With $5, you can provide a child with educational material for a year. With $10, you can provide a child three meals a day, for one week. With $250, you can provide housing for the orphanage children for three months. With $500, you can sponsor twenty children in high school. The donations are accepted through PayPal, but you don't have to create a PayPal account; their payment system allows you to use your debit or credit card.

Links:

Donation (https://futurestarsorphanage.com/donate/)

Homepage (https://futurestarsorphanage.com/)

Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/futurestarsorphanage/)