“BARKA is more like a family than an NGO because the connections that are made through collaboration on this work run so deep.”
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Esu manages BARKA’s daily operations in both the US and Burkina Faso. He is a producer by trade, having produced television programming for CNN, CNBC and FOX, which he later applied to the internet at RealNetworks and Microsoft when streaming media technology was in its infancy. He has extensive experience working at the nexus between technology and media, and also worked as a video editor, an actor and theatrical director.
Esu’s career took a sudden turn in 2005. Together with Ina, his future wife, he traveled to Burkina Faso to work with shamans and indigenous wisdomkeepers. This powerful experience aligned his life and work with a deep sense of purpose to be of service to the planet at this time. This newly discovered sense of passion combined with his diverse skills from the corporate world gave rise to The BARKA Foundation. He has devoted himself to issues of sustainable development in Burkina Faso ever since.
In Burkina, Esu has been given the name Ninja (man from Fada) Yieni Ye (Light of the Sun) Thiombiano (the royal family name of those who first brought him to Fada). Esu’s birth name is Howard Ross Patlis.
Chief Officer of Gratitude, Maintenance and Sustainability; Co-Founder
Ina is BARKA’s heart & soul. She ensures the reciprocity of gratitude with the many hands that come together to propel BARKA’s work forward. She creates the inspiring environments at BARKA’s two offices, one in Africa and the other in the US, and is deeply involved in strategic planning and quality control across all domains.
Ina has a diverse background which informs her approach to communities and individuals in Burkina. She has had a hands-on healing practice for 13 years and created her own form of transformational bodywork. Ina has also worked extensively with shamans and wisdomkeepers from North and South America and Burkina Faso. She is a founding member of The Temple of the Feminine Divine, a spiritual center in ME, and is a nationally licensed reverend. Ina brings her boundless creativity to everything she does which most often involves working with nature. She has been a licensed hunting guide, gardener and landscaper, jewelry designer and singer/songwriter. Her song “Gratitude” is sung worldwide and is inscribed at the entrance of the Edith Ball Aquatic Center in Tucson, AZ. She is a mother of 3 and grandmother of 5.
In Burkina, Ina has been given the name Noumpoua (woman from Fada) Pochilo (Light of the Moon) Thiombiano (the royal family name of those who first brought her to Fada). Ina’s legal name is Anne Weglarz Moffett.
Burkina Faso Staff
Gaoussou “Peace” Sarambe
Director of Communications
Peace has been with BARKA since 2006 and has served as a translator to the Co-Founders for many years. He is often working all hours of the day and night for BARKA and has been a key part of its success. He manages the team on the ground, handles social networking, PR, filmmaking and photo documentation of BARKA’s work. Peace also teaches English at the local Fada high school Lycee Communal de Fada.
He was the recipient of the US Embassy’s International Volunteer Leadership Program which brought him to the US in 2013. Peace also works with several schools and organizations in France. He is a graduate from the University of Ouagadougou.
Director of Cultural Affairs
Karim has been with the team since 2005, serving as a cultural interpreter and Gulimanchema translator. He has served as a liaison between BARKA and the local traditional authorities of the Gour’mache culture. In 2015, Karim was appointed to the Ministry of the Fada Naaba, the traditional authority of Fada N’Gourma. Karim is a master of Gour’mache dance and leads Troupe Yendabili, a theatre and dance troupe which has traveled internationally. He is also a member of BARKA’s theatre troupe.
Finance and Administrative Advisor
Luc YODA currently works at the Regional Chamber of Agriculture in the East of Burkina Faso, as the chief of financial and administrative services since 2004. Luc, who is known by his professional title “Inspecteur”, is an experienced finance manager in the area of agricultural development. He graduated from the University of Ouagadougou and has volunteered with BARKA since 2015. He is married with five children.
Technical Assistant, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH)
Yoni has been working with BARKA since 2014, first as an “animator”, someone who works directly with beneficiary communities, and subsequently as a Technical Assistant in WASH. He works closely with villagers to form sustainable water and sanitation committees, trains teachers to establish basic hygiene programs in their schools, and is integrally involved in every step of a water project, from its conception to its monitoring and evaluation. Yoni is fluent in several languages including Gulimanchema and Moré.
Kadidiatou “Tanti” Thiombiano
Animator, Field Worker
Tanti has worked for BARKA since 2012 as an “animator”. She works closely with the rural communities to sensitize in areas of water, sanitation and hygiene. Tanti helps BARKA’s work to be long-lasting and sustainable. We’ve seen her enact transformative change in villages.
After graduating from the national school of journalism, Tanti became one of the first local language journalists for RTB, Burkina’s national TV network. Now she serves as the Executive Director of Fada FM, Fada’s local radio station. Her experience with other NGOs includes Helen Keller International, UNICEF, and Action Against Hunger where she worked to sensitize rural communities in areas of water, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition and education.
Animator, WASH consultant
Boly has worked for BARKA since 2014. Not only did he assist with water accounting and a local needs assessment, he also served as a “game leader” in BARKA’s effort to teach hygiene education through theatre, facilitating the post-performance debates.
Boly has worked as an animator and sanitation manager at EPCD, the local government’s technical office of water and sanitation. He has also been a teacher and opened a rural school. He is a radio DJ on FADA FM, and a founding member of FESDIG, an international cultural festival in FADA. Boly also worked at the Burkinabè NGO Tin Tua as a local language teacher, and with IGIP d’Afrique International and Helen Keller International in areas of water, sanitation and nutrition and health. He is married and has 2 children.
Office and Grounds Maintenance
Posibo is BARKA’s caretaker. She has been with BARKA since 2014 and maintains BARKA’s headquarters office in Fada N’Gourma. Thanks to Posibo, everything is always in the right place and looking good, both inside and outside. Before working with BARKA she worked at Sentinel, a French NGO working to support women with fistula.
Barkie has worked for BARKA since 2015 ensuring the security of the materials in the office throughout the night. He has a lot of experience in security. He worked for numerous households and NGOs as a night watchman. He is a trustworthy person and has shown a great interest working for BARKA. He is an adviser of the Traditional Council of his village and was eligible to be the chief of his village but turned it down to be of service in Fada. Barkie also raises animals and has worked as a shepherd. At BARKA’s office, together with Ina, he created a vegetable garden which produces food for BARKA’s staff. Barkie farms his own land in order to feed his family of 3 children and 2 wives. He has also planted many trees. Despite never attending a school, Barkie has many skills and holds much wisdom.
Maitre Bakary Tou
BARKA mascot, aka Le Roi Chat (King Cat)
Born in Burkina Faso, Mouss is now 5 years old and weighs 13 pounds! The Mouss spends half his time in Maine and the other 6 months of the year in Burkina Faso with the co-founders. He hunts squirrels and lizards equally well.
US Volunteer Staff
Assistant to the Board of Directors
Lindsay Clark has been volunteering with BARKA since 2012. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2011 with a MSc in Human Rights and International Politics, and from Williams College in 2010 with a BA in History. After studying human rights in theory, Lindsay was interested in engaging with human rights in practice, and was inspired by BARKA’s focus on sustainable, holistic approaches to poverty reduction, reciprocity, and cross-cultural relationships. Lindsay currently works in Boston, Massachusetts at the Cambridge Innovation Center.
Webmaster, Web Host
Matt is the founder of Svaha, an internet consulting and design service for artists, small businesses and non-profits. Through Svaha, Matt has been hosting BARKA’s site pro bono since 2011, enabling us to focus on projects and goals while he handles the technology behind the curtain. Svaha is a Native American word that represents the time between seeing lightning and hearing thunder.
Manager of Individual Giving
Melissa joined the BARKA USA team in October 2016 to help with individual giving and fundraising strategy. She has a long-standing relationship with BARKA: she and her work colleagues accompanied Ina and Esu on the first leg of 2009’s Peace, Water & Wisdom Walk at the United Nations in NYC. She has been a donor ever since. Furthermore, she and Esu have been friends since they were 12 years old! Melissa worked in the corporate world for 25 years, and is now focused on raising her two daughters. She is a Certified Health Coach and finds much gratification when she witnesses her clients make changes to improve and enhance THEIR nutrition and wellness. She relates to BARKA’s effort to procure water, sanitation & hygiene for Burkinabè so they too can live healthier and achieve their potential.
Website & Social Media
Bio coming soon.
Kim worked as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso from 2010-2013. She was stationed in Fada N’Gourma, (where BARKA is located) and focused on issues of women’s empowerment, gender equality and anti-violence training. Kim also works with amfAR the Foundation for AIDS Research where she is manager of Individual Giving. She has volunteered for BARKA since 2013.
Jenny Khalema has been working as a marketer and graphic designer for over 10 years. She has spent a majority of her career working on proposals for the architecture/engineering/construction (A/E/C) industry. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho from 2011-2013. Currently, she has her own marketing consultancy and runs an in-home daycare. Initially Jenny was attracted to volunteering for The BARKA Foundation because she could tell that Ina and Esu were serious about creating change and that any efforts to help the foundation would benefit people in Burkina Faso.
Sonia Erraud (Canada)
Romain Cazaux (France)
Genevieve Lamotte (France)
Kushi & Myers, PC, Accountant (Pro Bono)
Baker & McKenzie, Legal Counsel (Pro Bono)
Advocates for International Development (A4ID)
Beyond Capital Fund (Technical Support)
USAID WA WASH (Technical Support)
Menstrual Hygiene Project Leaders
Founding MHM Project Leader
Martine started the “Club of Awakening Girls” at Fada’s largest high school to ensure that menstruation does not interfere with a girls’ desire to continue her education. Club members range from age 11 to 18 and provide a much needed support network for each other. BARKA’s MHM project builds on the foundation they laid, and expands and further supports their efforts.
Martine was an English teacher at Lycee Diaba Lompo who was given a special assignment for the Burkina Ministry of Education and UNICEF to sensitize students about MHM in 40 villages surrounding Fada. Martine was trained about MHM by UNICEF and also has training to halt the traditional practice of female genital mutilation and cutting (FGMC).
She has twins (1 girl, 1 boy) who are 10 years old.
Salimata Weogo Zalle
Founding MHM Project Leader
Salimata Weogo Zalle is a professional teacher of biology at Lycee Communal, the public high school of Fada.
She has two children, a boy of 8, and a 3 year old girl. She’s been married for 13 years and has taught school for 10 years. Thanks to BARKA, she’s been trained about MHM by UNICEF. She also has training in women’s reproductive health issues and sensitizing girls and mothers against female genital mutilation and cutting (FGMC or excision as it’s known in French).
MHM Project Leader
Elvire Bonkoungou is a teacher of natural science in Lycee Diaba Lompo de Fada N’Gourma. She is a natural leader and joined BARKA’s MHM project in 2018.
She has received training in MHM, Reproductive and sexual health in schools, health and nutrition, and has participated in Deen-Kaan Clubs.
MHM Project Assistant
She has been involved in BARKA’s MHM program since 2019 and is responsible for mobilizing and guiding students to form MHM Clubs in each grade to provide a peer support network and maintain the MHM cabin at school. She also participates in the monitoring and evaluation of the program. She has received trainings in MHM, Reproductive and sexual health of teenagers in schools, health and nutrition.
Founding MHM Project Assistant
Madame Awa Sonder/Toe is an Educational Assistant in Lycee Diaba LOMPO de Fada N’Gourma. She is very passionate about girls’ education and human rights.
She became involved in BARKA’s MHM program in 2019 to strengthen the creation of the MHM clubs in the two largest high schools of the city. She has received trainings in BANFORA and FADA about the creation of student health clubs locally named ‘’DEEN-KAAN’’.
Girls Sex Education Specialist
Awa Traore is a teacher of science in NAMOUNGOU High school. She is a very strong and effective teacher of girl’s empowerment including issues such as MHM, FGMC, and teen pregnancy prevention. BARKA Foundation hired her after its co-founders and MHM Project Leaders witnessed her give a powerful training to her students in 2018 at a time when BARKA was teaching MHM and donating hygiene materials for girls’ health at Madame Traore’s school. Awa Traore is a voice of the voiceless.
MHM Youth Ambassador (USA)
BARKA Theatre Troupe
Souleymane Sawadogo "King Solo"
Solo is a founding member of the BARKA Foundation troupe since 2015. He trains school children to dance and directs their original plays. He is also a successful Poetry Slam Artist in Fada. He is always serious in whatever he does.
Mariam was born on December 2nd 1969. She has always been a happy and animated person. Her interest for theatre came from raising awareness on issues around her. She has been through professional trainings with many organizations and she has acted with TIN-TUA, an educational association based in the east of Burkina Faso.
Mariam is a founding member of the BARKA Foundation troupe since 2015. Then she became the lead representative of the actors because of her expansive experience and linguistic skills. She speaks Five languages.
Aoua was born on April 8th 1980 in Fada N’Gourma. She is a natural and strong actor. She acted with different theatre troupes in Fada and is a founding member of the BARKA Foundation troupe since 2015. Aoua is married and has three children.
Arouna Kalla is a professional dancer, singer and actor. He has been practicing these arts since he was a kid. He was born on April 15th 1980 in Yamoussoukro (Ivory Coast). He created his own Cultural Festival and association for the local arts. He is a founding member of the BARKA Foundation troupe since 2015.
Firman Dialga is a real comedian. He has been making people laugh since he was a boy in school. He started theatre in a local association called ACTP, a cultural training center in Fada. Firmin is a talented actor selected by the BARKA Foundation and Espace Culturel Gambidi. He is a founding member of the BARKA Foundation troupe since 2015.
Lucie was born on August 12th 1976 in Fada N’Gourma. Lucie has liked theatre since she was a child. She started performing with a local troupe in Fada. She is a founding member of the BARKA Foundation troupe since 2015. Lucie is married and has four children.
Germaine is a native of Fada. She likes theatre so much that she started acting with a local troupe in Fada going around villages to perform. Then in 2015 she was selected to participate in a training to become a professional actor. That same year, she became a founding member of the BARKA Foundation troupe. She recently gave birth to her first child.
Karim was born in Fada N’Gourma on April 12th, 1965. He is a natural actor, making people laugh and acting among his friends since he was a kid. He has been through many jobs such as butcher, mason, driver, and dancer. In fact he created a traditional tam tam dance and drumming group, Troupe Yendabili, which has become internationally renowned and toured West Africa. He is a founding member of the BARKA Foundation troupe since 2015, and also serves as BARKA’s Director of Cultural Affairs.
Boly Soumaye was trained as a game leader for the BARKA theatre troupe by Espace Culturel Gambidi. Game Leaders warm up the crowd before the play, set the stage and lead the post-performance debate, while monitoring and evaluating the whole time. Boly also works for EPCD, the Town Hall technical branch implementing water and sanitation projects for the development of the commune. He is an animator and water, hygiene and sanitation manager. Boly is also a radio show animator at Fada FM. He speaks four languages and he is good at animating the crowds before performances of all kinds. He is a founding member of the BARKA Foundation troupe since 2015.
Odette was born on February 2nd 1978 in Fada. She likes to share knowledge with communities. The first time she began working with BARKA was as an interpreter in 2008 to communicate with groups of women in Fada. She works in different positions in different areas of development. In fact Odette works as an animator and medical assistant, distributing first-need kits in communities for the Red-Cross in Fada and in Burkina Faso. Odette is FADA FM radio station primary animator in the local language of Gulmanchema raising awareness on diverse issues. She is a founding member of the BARKA Foundation troupe since 2015 and received training by Espace Culturel Gambidi to be a game leader and to lead post performance debates.
Issouf "Kodjo" Bance
Kodjo is a master drummer and experienced painter. He has trained hundreds of people to play to djembe, some of them professionally and has performed with dozens of drumming groups in Ouagadougou and Fada. He loves painting and his artwork is internationally known. Kodjo is well known in Burkina for his work for NGOs, schools and local businesses. He has been working for the BARKA Foundation since 2012. In 2015, after a theatrical training in scenography with Espace Culturel Gambidi, he became the founding artist and designer for BARKA’s troupe. Kodjo is married and has four children.
Ahmed "Chacho" Natama
Chacho is a great technician who loves sound and music. He is the technician for many artists in the city of Fada. He ensures the quality of the sound system when there are live concerts and other ceremonies in villages and in Fada. Chacho was born on December 1st 1984 in Kikideni next to Fada N’Gourma. He went through a technical theatrical training with Espace Culturel Gambidi as a founding member of BARKA’s Troupe in 2015, and is also a talented actor and dancer in his own right. He’s also a very high scoring striker in soccer! He is married and has three children.