We’re here!!!!! Had a great trip from Atlanta to Paris (it’s an 8 1/2 hour flight and I slept the whole way) Then after a 4-hour layover we had a 5-hour flight to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso where the whole team finally came together (we had all taken different flights). There was much much laughter, hugs, and high fives!
Our main local contact, Pete, picked us all up at the airport and took us out to eat in downtown. I have no idea what we ate but it was tasty. During dinner we learned about more of the details pertaining to our itinerary.
Our agenda for the week is very aggressive and I am not sure if we will be able to do everything we are planning on doing. I have learned many amazing facts about this country and the needs here are so great:
It is the 2nd poorest nation on earth (beaten only by Sri Lanka)
The capital city (Ouagadougou) is the only one in the world without a water source and as I have mentioned in earlier blogs, water is their greatest need
There are up to 160 children in one elementary school classroom with 1 teacher and since you must pay to go to school here, entire extended families get together to decide which child has the best chance of graduating, getting a real job, and then be able to care for the next generation (only about half make it through grade school, of those left,half make it through middle school and of what is left only 35%graduate).
There is much pressure on the child selected for education…at times the parent’s decision is made to send one child to school rather than buy the medicine to save another child’s life.
Poverty this profound puts people (especially parents) in impossible places to make decisions.
There are some non-negotiable activities that we definitely will be doing. The first of those is today (Sunday) as we worshipped with brothers and sisters in the Lord in a small local church. Even though we could not communicate with each other, we still shared a bond that was much deeper than language and they made us feel so welcome. I look forward to the day when language will not be a barrier that keeps people apart. This afternoon we will crash and try to get our bodies more closely aligned with African time and we need to rest up as we will head into the bush for a minimum of 4 days. Today is my son Logan’s 18th birthday and we are planning a big bash at the US Embassy tonight complete with hamburgers, milkshakes and a football game (the Falcons will kick-off at 9:00pm here).
Our plans for the bush include visiting a well that Dry Tears funded that has just been completed and is now providing water for an entire community. We will be sleeping outside near the well and, rumor is, the village plans on dancing all night for us! I can’t wait…hope they let small white guys dance with them!!! We will also visit several other villages where the need for clean drinking water is great and we will be looking for good locations for future drilling projects.
Next, we will be visiting a city on the Mali border which has the highest infant mortality rate in the world. 1 out of every 2 children born don’t make it to age 5.
Our travels will then take us to a church building project that, unfortunately, was unable to be completed by another group. We see this as a wonderful opportunity to show the body of Christ as a much bigger thing than just one group of visitors. We plan on taking at least one full day to finish the building (the roof still needs to go up).
I’m not sure how much time we will have after doing these things, so we’ll just have to wait and see if we can cram more in.
Well I better get to bed…oh, and yes, Tina, we are taking all of our medications.