“BARKA is more like a family than an NGO because the connections that are made through collaboration on this work run so deep.”Gaoussou "Peace" Sarambe
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).
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).
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.
Roman is a volunteer from CoMundo, the Swiss Alliance for Development . He has worked for BARKA since 2015 in a wide range of administrative and programming capacities, including a focus on strategic planning with the BARKA team. He recently led focus group testing on the ceramic water filters BARKA is using to create a new social enterprise to increase access to clean drinking water nationwide in Burkina Faso.
He has a BA in Social Anthropology from University of Berne, Switzerland, and a Masters Degree in Development Studies and Culture Change from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.
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
Bolly 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.
Bolly 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. Bolly 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.
Ida joined BARKA in 2016 as its accountant and bookkeeper. She is a 2012 graduate of Institut des Sciences de l’Enterprise et du Management (INSEM) and before working at BARKA worked with the Burkina Faso NGO Tin Tua since 2009 and cell phone company TELECEL.
Alassane “Nikiema” Yonli
Nikiema has been with BARKA since its inception. As its faithful driver, he’s transported the BARKA team deep into the bush to meet with remote villages and returned us safely despite heavy rains, extreme heat or the inevitable mechanical breakdowns. We’ve witnessed Nikiema take apart an engine on the side of the road and put it back together to get us to where we need to go. Since 2012, Nikiema has also stepped into the role of coordinator of live events.
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.
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.
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.
Maitre Bakary Tou
Bio Coming Soon
BARKA mascot, aka Le Roi Chat (King Cat)
Born in Burkina Faso, this “petite terrorist” is now 2 years old and weighs 12 pounds! The Mouss spends half his time in Maine and the other 6 months of the year in Burkina Faso with the co-founders.
US Volunteer Staff
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.
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.
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.
Social Networking Intern
Lauren Tenaglia is currently a senior at SUNY Old Westbury College. For her senior internship she chose to work for The BARKA Foundation as their social media intern. Lauren has always had a passion for helping people and by strengthening BARKA’s social media presence she feels she is able to make a difference in the organization. Although she has never met the people of Burkina Faso, through working and speaking with the BARKA team, she feels like she is a part of the community. Interning at BARKA has been a great experience.
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)