5-week service-learning program goes from Water Day to Earth Day
In the spirit of internationalism, environmentalism, and reciprocity, Wyoming Seminary (Sem) students, faculty, and staff collaborate with The BARKA Foundation (BARKA) to benefit over 400 students at the Namoungou Middle and High Schools in Burkina Faso, West Africa. The campaign began on World Water Day (3/22) and continues through Earth Day (4/22).
Students in Namoungou have been displaced due to terrorism and a rapidly deteriorating security situation that has led to one of the world’s fastest-growing humanitarian crises. Violence has led to the displacement of more than one million people in just two years and has left 3.5 million people in need of assistance, a 60% increase in the past year. (ReliefWeb, Feb 2021)
Wyoming Seminary parent Adam Ruderman, a BARKA Board member, connected Sem and BARKA, a UN-affiliated nonprofit based in the US and Burkina Faso. BARKA implements a wide range of projects in five strategic areas: water, sanitation, and hygiene; women’s empowerment; education; sustainable agriculture; and the cultural arts and media.
Ruderman introduced BARKA’s co-Founders Ina and Esu Anahata to faculty members Jill Carrick, Nicole Lewis, and Barbara Rogers, who felt compelled to act when they learned of the dire needs affecting displaced students of Namoungou. Many students are currently living without parents or any financial support, and sometimes without food and water, which must be paid for monthly.
Sem will engage both the Upper and Lower schools for five weeks in a robust series of activities including a penpal correspondence between Namoungou students and the Sem French Club, live discussion with a BARKA Board member about problems facing Burkina Faso, and discussions of age-appropriate videos created for this program depicting the lives of Namoungou students (see links below).
The program culminates in a Walk for Water which will be held virtually on Earth Day, April 22. The event will be open to all students and their families, as well as alumni and friends of Sem. For a donation of $6 participants will walk (or ride their bicycle) any distance with the option of sharing a photo of themselves on their walk. Each participant will be given the name of a Namoungou student to personalize the connection. Six dollars is symbolic in that it pays for water for one student for three months (the remaining time before returning to their parents over break).
“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Sem to inspire students to take action, become global citizens and develop their sense of planetary responsibility. This will greatly help their counterparts in Burkina Faso simply have clean water to drink and bathe, a fundamental human right,” said BARKA Co-founder Ina Anahata.
Two short films about the dire situation of the Namoungou school and its students will be released on YouTube on 4/19 along with a teaching guide to help facilitate discussion.
About The BARKA Foundation
BARKA empowers communities in Africa to thrive and builds bridges between schools, civic organizations, and individuals in Burkina Faso and the United States. For more information or to make a donation, visit the BARKA Foundation website at https://barkafoundation.org.