BARKA Foundation and Ministry of Education Distribute Face Masks to 2000 Students for Final Exams

BARKA Foundation and Ministry of Education Distribute Face Masks to 2000 Students for Final Exams

Working with the National Gendarmerie, BARKA also distributed 500 masks to prisoners in Fada N’Gourma and provided locally-produced soap for 5000 villagers and IDPs

Burkina Faso- July 31, 2020

For Immediate Release:

The BARKA Foundation, a UN-affiliated NGO based in the United States and Burkina Faso, collaborated with Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Education to distribute face masks to 2000 students as they begin their final exams on Monday August 3rd. This is part of BARKA’s continuing action to fight against the spread of COVID-19 within Burkina. In April and May, BARKA distributed locally produced soap and delivered sensitization about the importance of handwashing with soap to 5000 rural villagers and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the commune of Fada. In addition, BARKA is supporting the Gendarmerie Nationale through the distribution of 500 face masks that will go toward prisoners who are at increased risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. All masks were made locally by La Belle Epine, a professional training school for tailors which recently established a regional network of tailors to produce masks for the government and NGOs such as BARKA Foundation. The masks are made from traditional cloth, known locally as “Faso Dan Fani” with cotton grown in Burkina Faso.

“All of BARKA’s COVID-19 prevention initiatives were made possible through online grassroots fundraising. We are extraordinarily grateful to and humbled by the many individual donors in the US who generously contributed to this campaign,” said Esu Anahata, BARKA co-Founder and Executive Director. “We wish to thank our local partners in Burkina Faso: the Regional Direction of Education, the Gendarmerie Nationale, Belle Epine, and local women’s associations which produced soap for IDPs and BARKA’s partner villages. Their collaborative efforts have made these actions possible”, said Ina Anahata, BARKA co-Founder and Chief Gratitude Officer.

“The President of Burkina Faso called for solidarity to fight COVID-19 and this is exemplified by BARKA’s action to distribute face masks for students and prisoners who were among the most vulnerable and in need of such protection right now”, stated Koadima Boukari, founder of La Belle Epine.

“This year, the end-of-year exams are taking place in a particular context marked by COVID-19. To support the Regional Direction of Education in the East (DPEPS/Est) in the adoption of barrier measures by all those involved in the baccalaureate exam, the NGO BARKA Foundation provides invaluable support with masks made from traditional cloth produced here in the Eastern region with locally grown cotton. We send, on behalf of our hierarchy, to BARKA and to all its partners our most distinguished thanks. We wish them every success in their commitment to a more resilient education system”, added François Xavier OUEDRAOGO, DPEPS/Gourmand.

Click here to see coverage of this initiative in within Burkina Faso.

On May 28, Menstrual Hygiene Day, BARKA’s 3 top Menstrual Health Project Leaders took to the radio waves to sensitize the entire eastern region about menstrual issues, breaking the silence on this taboo subject.

The 3 women, Madame Salimata Zalle, Madame Awa Traore, and Madame Elvire Bonkoungou entered the radio Station of BARKA’s local partner Tin Tua Association and provided information about the menstrual cycle, and how menstruating women and girls can take proper hygienic care of themselves and their daughters. They answered questions and demystified a process with which far too many girls and women of Burkina Faso are unfamiliar. The program airs to over 50,000 people and will be repeated again later this month.

The radio program, conducted in French and hosted by Peace Sarambe, BARKA’s General Manager, is now available for on demand listening here:


Statement in Support of the Abolishment of Systemic Racism and Solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives

Statement in Support of the Abolishment of Systemic Racism and Solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives

We are witnessing the birth of something new. In the wake of the brutal and senseless murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, the world has said Enough Is Enough, Never Again. Ordinary citizens, young and old, all over the planet are saying that WE CAN’T BREATHE under an antiquated system of inequality and racial injustice.

The disproportionate impact of COVID-19, unemployment, and the loss of businesses on the Black population in recent months is a byproduct of this long history of anti-Black racism. This modern civil rights movement is shining new light on larger systemic issues of racial injustice beyond institutionalized police brutality. The recent mass protests are bringing with them hope for real systemic change.

This time feels different. The demographics of the protests are much more racially diverse than ever before. Have we finally realized that the time is now and that we are the Ones we’ve been waiting for? These protests are an outcry of all people who have been on the receiving end of oppression. BARKA’s work in Burkina Faso has enabled us to witness firsthand the pain and suffering of inequality. The struggle of the Black Lives Matter movement resonates with the oppression, domination and injustices carried out by colonization around the globe over centuries. The image of a knee on the neck is an apt metaphor for the way in which nations like Burkina Faso have been kept down and unable to thrive due to a global economic system that is rigged against them. The relationship of the colonizer to the colonized is all too similar to that of the master to the slave.

Yet the awakening of consciousness, the expression of outrage, the reflection among many whites and the taking of responsibility for the privilege they have benefited from is all cause for hope. We here at BARKA are inspired, fired up, and standing tall with our African-American brothers and sisters in this struggle (the literal meaning of Burkina Faso is the Land of Upright People – those who STAND TALL). This is not a black problem, it is a global problem, and collectively speaking, it is our problem. We know that the well-being of our society as a whole relies on ensuring justice and prosperity for all people.

BARKA’s work in all its iterations has been an attempt to make the world a better and more just place, to help meet basic human rights such as access to clean water, to co-create peace, and to build mutually beneficial relationships of reciprocity between Africa and the United States. We have actively engaged in building the future that is unfolding before our eyes and being the change we wish to see in the world. We thank our supporters for helping to make this possible. It is the incredible grassroots support from all who we have met on this journey that has made these actions a reality and will enable us to keep moving forward in this direction. We invite, encourage and thank you for joining us on this path to advance racial justice and systemic societal change.

In Solidarity,

The Board of Directors of The BARKA Foundation

Traduction française:

Déclaration à l’appui de l’abolition du racisme systémique et Solidarité avec le mouvement Black Lives Matter

Nous assistons à la naissance de quelque chose de nouveau. Dans le sillage du meurtre brutal et insensé de George Floyd à Minneapolis le 25 mai, le monde a dit: Trop c’est Trop, Plus jamais ça. Les citoyens ordinaires, jeunes et vieux, partout sur la planète disent que NOUS NE POUVONS PAS RESPIRER sous un système archaïque d’inégalité et d’injustice raciale.

L’impact disproportionné du COVID-19, le chômage et la perte d’entreprises sur la population noire au cours des derniers mois est un sous-produit de cette longue histoire de racisme anti-noir. Ce mouvement moderne des droits civiques éclaire d’un jour nouveau les problèmes systémiques plus larges de l’injustice raciale au-delà de la brutalité policière institutionnalisée. Les récentes manifestations de masse apportent avec elles l’espoir d’un véritable changement systémique.

Cette fois, c’est différent. La démographie des manifestations est beaucoup plus diversifiée racialement que jamais. Avons-nous finalement réalisé que le moment est venu et que nous sommes ceux que nous attendions? Ces protestations sont un cri de coeur de toutes les personnes qui ont été victimes de l’oppression. Le travail de BARKA au Burkina Faso nous a permis d’être le témoin direct de la douleur et de la souffrance des inégalités. La lutte du mouvement Black Lives Matter résonne avec l’oppression, la domination et les injustices menées par la colonisation à travers le monde au cours des siècles. L’image d’un genou sur le cou est une métaphore appropriée de la manière dont des pays comme le Burkina Faso ont été maintenus à l’écart et incapables de prospérer en raison d’un système économique mondial qui est truqué contre eux. La relation du colonisateur avec le colonisé est beaucoup semblable à celle du maître à l’esclave.

Pourtant, l’éveil de la conscience, l’expression de l’indignation, la réflexion parmi de nombreux Blancs et la prise de responsabilité pour le privilège dont ils ont bénéficié sont tous des motifs d’espoir. Nous ici à BARKA sommes inspirés, enflammés et debout avec nos frères et sœurs afro-américains dans cette lutte (le sens littéral du Burkina Faso est le pays des hommes intègres – ceux qui se tiennent debout). Ce n’est pas un problème noir, c’est un problème mondial et, collectivement, c’est notre problème. Nous savons que le bien-être de notre société dans son ensemble dépend de la garantie de la justice et de la prospérité pour tous.

Le travail de BARKA dans toutes ses itérations a été une tentative de rendre le monde meilleur et plus juste, d’aider à respecter les droits humains fondamentaux tels que l’accès à l’eau potable, de co-créer la paix et de construire des relations de réciprocité mutuellement bénéfiques entre l’Afrique et les États-Unis. Nous nous sommes activement engagés à construire l’avenir qui se déroule sous nos yeux et à être le changement que nous souhaitons voir dans le monde. Nous remercions nos supporters d’avoir contribué à rendre cela possible. C’est le soutien incroyable de tous ceux que nous avons rencontrés au cours de ce voyage qui a fait de ces actions une réalité et nous permettra d’avancer dans cette direction. Nous vous invitons, vous encourageons et vous remercions de vous joindre à nous sur cette voie pour faire progresser la justice raciale et le changement sociétal systémique. 

En solidarité,

Le conseil d’administration de la Fondation BARKA


Gearing Up for Menstrual Hygiene Day, May 28: It’s Time For Action

Gearing Up for Menstrual Hygiene Day, May 28: It’s Time For Action

BARKA Foundation and those fighting Period Poverty are gearing up all over the world right now in preparation for Menstrual Hygiene Day tomorrow, May 28. This annual event has been growing in popularity and impact for the past several years. This year, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, it is poised to become a major worldwide virtual event to create more awareness about this important issue than ever before.

The Bracelets: Bracelets are being locally created across the planet to symbolize an end to the stigmatization around periods and to provide a visual reminder of the 5 days of a period within a 28-day cycle. The bracelets above were made locally in Burkina Faso.

The theme of this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Day is: It’s Time for Action!

And in Burkina, action is what we’re seeing. At the national observance of MH Day in Ouagadougou earlier this week, an event that BARKA Foundation helped to organize and financially supported, the Minister of Education said that Menstrual Hygiene Awareness is now a priority for the new educational curricula that the government is developing.  In just 4 years, we have taken this issue from 0 to 100, put it on the radar of the Ministry of Education, and have done much to break the silence around the taboo topic of menstruation.

Pictured above are 3 of BARKA’s MHM Program Leaders, from left to right: Madame Zalle, Madame Bonkoungou, and Madame Traore. On May 28, they will lead a 1-hour radio program on the subject of Menstrual Health to sensitize listeners in the entire eastern region.

Here are some of the questions they will discuss:

  • What is menstruation?
  • Why do women menstruate?
  • How can you safely and hygienically manage your menstruation?
  • At what age do girls begin having their periods?
  • When do women stop menstruating?
  • How do you know when the date for your next period will be?
  • What symptoms may a girl have before or during her period?
  • Why do girls miss school during their periods?
  • What advice can you give a girl to be at ease, comfortable and healthy during her periods?
  • Why do we celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day?

Also, WASH United, a leader in the field of Menstrual Health has created a very informative infographic on periods during the COVID-19 pandemic. We highly recommend you check it out here. Periods don’t stop for pandemics, and neither do we! #PeriodsInPandemics

Have a wonderful, safe and action-filled Menstrual Hygiene Day 2020! Together we can end stigmatization and period poverty to empower girls and women around the world.

Response to COVID-19 in Burkina Faso

Response to COVID-19 in Burkina Faso

BARKA Foundation is closely monitoring the Coronavirus situation in Burkina Faso. We will continue to update this page with the latest news, updating the timeline below with significant events and information.

The healthcare system in Burkina Faso is already virtually on its knees due to an ongoing unprecedented humanitarian crisis, and most medical facilities in Sahel, Centre-Nord and Nord regions have either closed or are barely able to function. There is concern that a widespread outbreak of Coronavirus could have catastrophic results.

Please also check BARKA’s news archives The BARKIVES for the latest news articles about COVID-19 in Burkina Faso from the international press.

BARKA’s Response for its Partner Villages: During a Board Meeting on March 21st, BARKA’s Board of Directors determined to immediately focus its efforts to sensitize the population of our village partners and the more than 40,000 internally displaced people currently taking shelter in Fada N’Gourma on the critical importance of frequent handwashing at this time.

BARKA has joined a UNICEF-led response team of international and local NGOs and local government to create a more efficient and collaborative approach to combating the many problems our communities are facing. BARKA is also currently developing a major new project to ensure that displaced people in the city of Fada N’Gourma have clean water to drink.

In the past several months, BARKA supported several local women’s organizations in the Fada area by purchasing locally produced soap.  As markets, sales and revenue dried up for local sellers, this provided much-needed income for dozens of women in several women-run associations.

BARKA also raised funds through an online grassroots campaign to produce masks made locally from traditional cloth with locally grown cotton. Masks went to over 1000 students taking final exams in August, to over 1000 IDPs in Fada, and 500 prisoners who were most vulnerable.

See press release here and local news coverage here.

Number of people reached thus far with soap distribution, handwashing sensitization and mask distribution: 9900.

Click here to make a donation for BARKA Foundation to continue serving at-risk communities in Burkina Faso.

BARKA’s Response for its Burkina Faso Staff: Until further notice BARKA’s entire staff is prohibited from traveling to Ouagadougou or Bobo-Dioulasso. Currently we are happy to report that all staffers are healthy and no one has fallen sick. We are taking measures to protect staff with masks and gloves when they interact with villagers and other beneficiaries.

If you are in Burkina Faso and feel sick, call the Burkina Faso hotline at (226) 52-19-53-94 or (226) 70-95-93-27, or dial 35 35, if you suspect you might have COVID-19.


Number of Cases of COVID-19 in Burkina Faso (per Ministry of Health):  2381 (as of October 16)

Number of Deaths: 65

Number of Recoveries: 1774

News Related to COVID-19 in Burkina Faso:

Sept 15: 193 new contaminations were reported on 9/13, the majority of which were located in Bobo-Dioulasso, the nation’s 2nd largest city..

July 28: Authorities announce that international flights will resume as of midnight on Saturday, August 1.

July 11: First 3 cases of COVID-19 are detected in Fada N’Gourma, the city where BARKA’s base of operations is situated.

June 16: The Ministry of Health and WHO held a press briefing in which they revealed that Burkina Faso has seen 5 cases of polio in 3 different regions since January 2020. There is worldwide concern that singular focus on coronavirus will give rise to other diseases and epidemics.

June 13: On Saturday, June 13, approximately 700-1000 demonstrators gathered in Fada N’Gourma (Gourma province) to denounce insecurity and killings against the Fulani community in the region. Protesters demanded further action be taken to prevent the atrocities, including the restructuring of security defense forces. The demonstration was not authorized by authorities and took place in spite of the ban on public gatherings amid the ongoing fight against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

June 3: Following a presidential decree by Roch Marc Christian Kaboré on Monday, June 1, the nationwide curfew imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was lifted on Wednesday, June 3. The curfew between 21:00 and 04:00 (local time) had been in place since March 21. The country remains under a state of health emergency and the borders remain closed until further notice. All bars, restaurants, markets, and schools remain closed, and some public gatherings continue to be prohibited. Other restrictions, including the use of face masks in public places, remain mandatory nationwide.

May 30: Police used tear gas to disperse a demonstration in the southwestern city of Bobo-Dioulasso on Saturday, May 30. Hundreds of people, many on motorbikes, had gathered in the city center and planned to proceed to the Hauts-Bassins regional administrative office to call for the lifting of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions.

May 6: Burkina Faso’s football federation canceled the 2019/2020 football season due to disruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 4: Burkinabe authorities announced in a decree that the ban on travel between cities, imposed since April 20, would be lifted with immediate effect to stimulate the country’s economy. The decree further stated that all religious institutions would be allowed to reopen as of May 10, although certain ceremonies will remain prohibited.

April 30: Schools are being set to re-open on May 15th.

April 28: As of last week, there were over 19,550 confirmed cases in Africa. International media sources report Covid-19 cases have surged 43% in Africa during the past week.

April 20: The Government of Burkina Faso modified the curfew restrictions. As of today, a curfew is in effect between the hours of 9:00 pm and 4:00 am. Additionally, effective next Monday, 27 April 2020, the wearing of facemasks will be obligatory throughout the country.

April 2: Burkina Faso slashed its expectations of GDP growth for 2020 from 6.3 percent to two percent, in an nationwide address by President Roch Kabore. He also pledged that the state will “take charge of water and electricity bills” for some inhabitants and enforce price controls for essential products, with security measures to protect stocks of key consumer goods. The authorities have set up a recovery fund for companies in difficulty worth 100 billion CFA francs (152 million euros / $165 million), together with a solidarity fund to help workers in the informal sector. Also, President Kabore pardoned 1,207 prisoners in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

April 1: There are now 6 confirmed cases of government ministers, and the Ambassador of Italy has also tested positive.

March 29: Burkina Faso’s Minister of Transport, Urban Mobility and Road Safety, Vincent Dabilgou, has tested positive for COVID-19. He is the 5th minister to have contracted the virus.

March 26: The Burkinabè ministerial board declared a state of sanitary emergency in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. As such, authorities announced a quarantine in Ouagadougou, Bobo-Dioulasso, Boromo, Dédougou, Houndé, Banfora, Manga, and Zorgho, where cases have been confirmed. It remains unknown how long the quarantine will remain in effect.

March 25: Authorities in Burkina Faso have ordered all bars, restaurants, and markets in the capital Ouagadougou and its surroundings to close from Wednesday, March 25, until at least Monday, April 20, to prevent further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. All gatherings are also prohibited.

March 24: The Burkina Faso Ministry of Health confirmed 114 cases of COVID-19 in Burkina Faso, the highest number in West Africa. Martial Ouedraogo, National coordinator of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, said seven patients have been cured. Some 604 people have been traced and isolated.

March 23: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Monday for an immediate cease-fire in conflicts around the world to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The U.N. chief said: “It is time to put armed conflict on lock-down and focus together on the true fight of our lives… the world faces a common enemy — COVID-19 which doesn’t care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith”. He said women, children, the disabled, marginalized and displaced and people caught in armed conflicts, which are raging around the world, are the most vulnerable and “are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.” It’s time to silence guns, stop artillery, end airstrikes and create corridors for life-saving aid and open windows for diplomacy, he said. “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war. End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.”

March 22: The US Ambassador, Andrew Young confirms he has tested positive for Coronavirus.

March 21: Burkina Faso has 64 confirmed cases of coronavirus (29 women and 35 men), resulting in 3 deaths to date including that of a 62-year-old female legislator with diabetes — sub-Saharan Africa’s first fatality from the new virus. Four government ministers are among the latest cases including the ministers of foreign affairs, interior, education and mines and quarries. The vast majority of cases are in Ouagadougou, however cases have also been identified in Bobo-Dioulasso, Boromo and Dedougou. According to a government issued report, 5 cases of recovery, including the first infected couple who returned with coronavirus from France last week, have been recorded.

March 20: The Burkina Faso government puts the followings order in place:

  • All gatherings more than 50 people prohibited, effectively putting an end to church and mosque services and funerals
  • Nationwide curfew from 7pm to 5am
  • Airports in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Diouslasso will be closed for 2 weeks (renewable)
  • Land and railway traffic has also been suspended for 2 weeks (renewable)

March 16: All schools are shut down effective immediately until at least April 14th.

March 11: Al Jazeera reports that there are only 400 coronavirus test kits available in Burkina Faso, with only three health facilities in the country able to carry out the tests – two in Ouagadougou and one in the second city of Bobo Dioulasso.

March 9: Burkina records its first 2 cases of Coronavirus, becoming the sixth country in sub-Saharan Africa affected by the virus. Health Minister Claudine Lougue told reporters that the two patients, a husband and wife, had recently returned to Burkina Faso from a trip to France and went into isolation. Mamadou and Hortense Karambiri, considered celebrity pastors, lead a church of 12,000 members, and had held a service before coming down with symptoms. Their church, Bethel Israel Tabernacle, canceled its Sunday services.

Barka, St. Joseph Hospital

Barka, St. Joseph Hospital

From left to right: Dr. Kevyn Comstock, Esu Anahata, Ina Anahata, Issouf “Kodjo” Bance, President Mary Prybylo, Karim Combari, Spiritual Care Director Andrew Files, Primary Care Director Mya-Lisa King, Miki MacDonald N.P.

January 22, 2020

We would like to get down on our knees to express the depth of our gratitude for St. Joseph’s Hospital partnership with The BARKA Foundation and its incredibly generous gift of medical services to two members from the BARKA Delegation who visited the US from August through January. During their 6-month visit, Kodjo and Karim (pictured above) received thousands of dollars in life-saving medical care.

When Karim arrived he could barely walk and was in constant pain. Osteopath Kevyn Comstock diagnosed him with spinal stenosis. St. Joe’s donated an MRI which confirmed severe spinal stenosis and then offered to provide him with the only care that would offer a permanent solution to his medical condition- spinal surgery. Dr. Swartzbaugh performed the surgery and post-op care and the operation was a resounding success. Karim has his life back (no pun intended) and is walking tall and no longer in excruciating pain.

Kodjo had a dental emergency which unfortunately came late one Friday night- with no dentists available until Monday. St. Jo’s provided him with a pro bono visit to the emergency room to treat his pain, as well as vaccinations, osteopathic treatments and a steroid injection for his bad knee.

Needless to say, Kodjo and Karim were amazed at the level of the care they received from St. Joe’s. In Burkina Faso there is 1 doctor per 10,000 people and most clinics and even hospitals have barely any resources or advanced medical equipment. At St. Joe’s, Karim was even able to speak directly to his surgeon and team of medical practitioners through a real-time video translation service.

Karim, Kodjo, and all of us here at BARKA Foundation are truly grateful to St. Joseph’s Hospital for going above and beyond to help the lives of two people who will be forever changed. St. Joe’s willingness to put love into action through such charitable medical services embodies what we like to refer to as reciprocity.

From Left to right: Karim Combari, Dr. Joanna Swartzbaugh, Kodjo Bance, Ina and Esu Anahata (pictured in screen is the French interpreter).