M. Mathieu and Mme Fisch visited the club to present Chrëscht mam Sahel (CmS), a Luxembourg ONG which has been working in Burkina Faso since the 1980s. It was here that a home was built in 1999 for unmarried mothers who are often homeless or have been thrown out by their families because they don’t want to marry.
A few have been abused or are orphans. There is theoretically space for 15 girls and their babies, but at the moment they have 18 girls and 16 babies. The home has dormitories, showers, meeting and classrooms, workrooms and an office. They are planning to build a water tower in 2009 because working a hand-pump to get water from the well can be a struggle for young, pregnant girls!
The girls get three meals a day, a secure environment and whatever medical or psychological care they need. They are taught how to take care of themselves (personal hygiene, washing clothes, healthy eating) and their babies. The babies are given necessary vaccinations and they make sure they are properly registered and have a birth certificate. In addition, the girls are given training so that they will be able to earn a living when they leave.
Classes include reading, writing and mathematics, childcare, family planning, AIDS prevention as well as cooking, making soap, sewing, knitting, weaving, gardening. Fruit and vegetables grown by the girls in the garden are cooked in the kitchen, and any surplus (as well as soap, cloth, knitted good, etc.) is sold in a little shop.
The other aim is to help the girls be accepted back into their families, so they have a more secure future. They help make contact and find the babies’ fathers and mediate with the families where necessary. So far seven girls have bone back to their families in 2008. If it is not possible for a girl to return to her family, at least the training she has received gives her a chance to have a decent life being independent, and not end up on the streets.
Despite its name, has no religious preference or policy, and have a mix of muslim and christian girls. The ONG collaborates with 15 other organisations working in the region, especially those trying to improve conditions for young girls. Some of their girls are directed to CmS by these organisations.
The home employs 12 people: teachers, occupational trainers, child minders, an administrator, maintenance/night guard, etc. It is run by Soeur Michelle who is experienced and very efficient, and is everyone’s surrogate mother.
One or two people from Luxembourg visit a couple of times per year to audit the activites and discuss plans, and there is also oversight from contacts based in Ouagadougou.
Since 2001, the home has looked after 188 girls who had 139 babies (12 sadly died) and 142 went back to their families. There are many more girls in this plight in Burkino Faso – the ones who find their way to the CmS home are the lucky few.