From the 11th to the 18th of September, we were in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso (land of righteous men) to officially launch PEPE in the country. After years of prayer, sweat, tears, meetings, training, etc., this was the fulfillment of a process that began in 2018, when we started contacts with organizations in the country.
Burkina Faso is a country located in West Africa, with a massive young population, 45% of the population is under 14 years old according to World Bank data. The country borders Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Burkina is currently experiencing a considerable security crisis due to terrorist acts and internal disputes, the northern region of the country is the most affected by insecurity with entire cities dominated by armed groups. It is exactly in this context that the Lord is allowing us to start the work of PEPE in Burkina this year 2022.
And the beginning of PEPE in Burkina Faso could not be more special and blessed as it was. For the first time a country starts a PEPE with more than one unit, in Burkina there were 11 new units, with more than 200 children benefited. We had the participation of civil and ecclesiastical authorities, but also of brothers coming from the most different regions of the country. Some of these brothers traveled hundreds of kilometers, risking their own lives to participate in the training, we were very encouraged by their testimonies. We visited some locations where the new PEPE Burkina units will operate and we were touched by what we saw. Even being in the capital and surroundings, it is possible to observe many communities with great needs, most of the houses are made of mud, do not have piped water, no bathroom, open sewer, no waste treatment, etc. But what touched me most deeply was the number of children on the street begging for handouts, the war displaced people as they are called, exposed to all kinds of violence and without access to basic resources for their development, those children are the most fragile victims of the demeaning situation in the country. Despite these unfavorable situations, the brothers spared no effort to welcome us with lots of love and affection.
Pray for the educators and the national coordinator, Pr. Bélem Casimir, may the Lord give you grace and wisdom to welcome and work with each child, even in difficult circumstances. Pray for the children that we are going to receive at PEPE Burkina, there will be more than 200 children, coming from this context of traumatic war, that the love of Jesus through the life of the Missionary-Educators will bring deep healing to the wounds and marks that these children carry emotionally, physically and spiritually. Pray that the Lord will continue to guide the next steps in the development of PEPE in Burkina, that He will send the necessary resources so that we can reach more children.
Thank you so much for helping us reach this new country and reach more children and their families with the love of Jesus. May the Lord bless you and your entire family.
Fraternally in Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
Pr. Fernando dos Santos
Regional Coordinator of PEPE Western Africa 2
Translated by David Balmant do Espirito Santo