Burkina Faso


10 May , 2019  

A few weeks ago I met Fanta Yanna, a committed young African woman from Dedougou (Burkina Faso) who has lived in Nuremberg since the end of 2003.

Married for eleven years and now the mother of three children, she came through a sponsorship as a student to Germany in order to study electrical engineering and information technology at the Georg Simon Ohm Technical University. Since 2010 she has been working for a large international firm, initially as lead engineer for industrial projects and for the past three years project manager. I listen to her story with great interest:

Nine brothers and sisters and no father 

Born as the ninth child of a large family, I learnt early on to share and to help, sometimes against my will, until this became a matter of course for me. My father died when I was three years old. Looking back on my childhood I would say that it was hard, humble, but full of love.

The love of my mother and my brothers and sisters influenced and fulfilled my life.

An illiterate person fights for education 

Going to school was not a matter of course, particularly for financial reasons. But for my mother, herself illiterate, education was obligatory, especially for us girls. She made many enemies in those days in our Islamic land by insisting that we went to school.

Secretly she also encouraged other women to send their children to school against the will of their husbands. She was more than convinced: This was the only way to become independent and achieve a better future. Although illiterate, she checked our homework just to give us children the impression that she was interested in our achievements. This unfortunately only lasted until the end of the first class. It was then that we realised our mother sometimes held the books upside down and could not read at all.

But that did not matter, for through her commitment she gave us and many children from the neighbourhood a perspective for education. 

I did not have to search long for a role model, for she fascinates me to this day whenever I think back to this time.

Giving young people a chance 

It was not until after my first visit to my homeland in 2006 as a student that I realised I wanted to support education just as she did. During my stay I visited a former guest family where I had lived for a short time. I encountered a grieving family whose father had died the previous year. Because there was no money for school fees, the children had been taken out of school and had to work.

Initially I did not have the financial means to support this family, but I was aware that the situation would not improve if the children did not return to school. This is what I had always heard from my mother. I decided to send at least the two youngest children back to school and spoke to the headmaster the next day. I promised him I would pay the school fees within the next two months, without knowing how.

Back in Germany I found a student job in a fitness centre to keep this promise. At the end of the month I was able to pay the school fees and purchase missing school materials. Imagine how pleased I was when I heard of the children’s very good school grades at the end of the year.

My homeland must change 

Since then I have actively supported education, and in the time without external support I initiated many small projects in my home village to improve the educational standard of the children and enable children from families with no prospects to have access to education.

In 2017, together with friends, I founded the “Creuset d´Eveil Kinderhaus” association in Burkina Faso, which supports the education and social development of children particularly in rural areas. The association is involved in the form of homework supervision and information technology courses in villages, and also offers leisure activities such as music and instrument courses. This year we opened a children’s centre in Dedougou for infants and pre-school children.