Country of the Week: Burkina Faso


This week is all about Burkina Faso, the YALI Network’s Country of the Week! Andrew R Young, the U.S. Ambassador in Burkina Faso has a special message for you this week:

It is a pleasure for me and my staff to acknowledge your achievement as Young Leaders and for the Burkina YALI Network to be featured this week.

As the world sets its eye on Burkina Faso, we have an opportunity: to demonstrate our civic engagement (#lecivismecestmoi) through which we support a stronger democracy and improved governance; we advance peace and security; and we promote equitable economic opportunity and social development.

As we also commemorate September 11 this week, it is crucial that we join forces in the fight against terrorism. Terrorism puts the brakes on development. It feeds on the despair of disenfranchised youth. But, in stark contrast, YALI networks show the true spirit of the continent, and YALI is a tool to raise awareness for African youth in general and Burkinabe in particular. Together we form an international network of young people with whom we share the same dreams and ambitions.

Throughout the year, you have dedicated your time and action to the wellbeing of your communities. You represent the conscious youth of this country #YALINETWORK. Everything you do counts, especially the work already achieved through your workshops, seminar accomplishments on Mandela Day, and all the other service days dedicated to YALI activities.

In Burkina Faso, the YALI network covers 23 of the 45 provinces, and with creativity and elbow grease, you will be able to reach all regions of Burkina Faso. The concept of YALI is to build bridges between young people from different African countries and from the rest of the world and between different generations, and we can be proud of the achievement so far in Burkina Faso.

The resilient Burkinabe spirit is just one reason we’ve chosen Burkina Faso as this week’s
#YALINetwork #CountryoftheWeek! Keep reading to learn how three members are improving Burkina Faso’s public health, inspiring civic engagement, and empowering women.

Empowering Women With Words Of Wisdom

Sylvie Tougouma has a way with words. Not only does she inspire young girls by sharing her experiences, she’s an encouraging mentor who empowers fellow women through poetry and performance.

After participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Sylvie held an #Africa4Her workshop on entrepreneurship for women from the University of Ouagadougou. “I held a workshop about Understanding the Rights of Women and Girls,” she says, “along with two MWF fellows and other YALI Network members in collaboration with my church’s youth group.”

Sylvie Tougouma shares her experiences with girls from six different villages at the Let Girls Learn camp in Manga, Centre-Sud Region of #CountryoftheWeek Burkina Faso.

Sylvie Tougouma shares her experiences with girls from six different villages at the Let Girls Learn camp in Manga, Centre-Sud Region of #CountryoftheWeek Burkina Faso.

Sylvie has used her leadership skills and YALI trainings to encourage women’s’ participation in local politics, and has organized 35 training sessions for more than 500 men and women in two years, including for members of Burkina Faso’s transitional parliament.

These trainings, Sylvie explains, were eye-opening: “I realized how many women are constrained by their lack of access to education and confidence in themselves,” she says. “Stereotypes given to women by society limit their confidence, [and causes] them to feel that they will not do well in politics or that there is no room in politics for them.”

Sylvie has also collaborated with two other women to found a poetry performance group called Su Noong Koesse, which translates to “strengthening your talents with joyful words.” She’s now incorporated the group into the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn program, where she helps young girls “realize their dreams” through poetry reading and performance.

Says Sylvie, “The poetry group strengthens students’ public speaking skills through poetry performance, reading, and storytelling, and gives them a way to convey powerful messages to their audience. I was encouraged to see how creative they were when placed in an environment that enables them to reach their potential.”

And Sylvie’s impact doesn’t stop there. Since her return to Burkina Faso, Sylvie has mentored five other women who have also gone on to become Mandela Washington Fellows.

Serving Others

As an active member of the Burkina Faso Medical Students Association, YALI Network member Ismael Rachid Boro has organized numerous campaigns to raise awareness about HIV, Hepatitis B, cervical cancer, and cardiovascular health in his hometown, Ouagadougou. In 2017, he says, the Association collected 100 cartons of medicine and redistributed them to the local hospital for underserved populations.

Now, he’s using the #YALINetwork to protect other vulnerable populations, too.

Ismael Rachid Boro (bottom row, left) after leading a training about protecting human rights.

Ismael Rachid Boro (bottom row, left) after leading a training about protecting human rights.

To celebrate Mandela Day, Ismael Rachid organized a #YALIServes event in which participants learned about strategies for protecting human rights. “Over the course of the day,” he says, “we talked about human rights, their characteristics, and their importance.”

Ismael Rachid has also set the ambitious goal of completing all of the YALI Network Online courses, in addition to the seven he’s already taken. “These courses allow[ed] me to learn a lot,” says Ismael Rachid. “I can better organize and better serve my community. My desire to see change prompted me to organize activities for my community.”

Engaging The Next Generation

For YALI Network member Ibrahima Yaro, civic engagement matters. After completing five YALI Network Online Courses focused on civic leadership and business, he hosted three successful #YALILearns events to share his passion for the democratic process and to explain the importance of civic engagement to local community members.

Ibrahima Yaro (bottom row, fourth from the left) with members of the Youth Democratic Organization of Burkina Faso following a #YALILearns event.

Ibrahima Yaro (bottom row, fourth from the left) with members of the Youth Democratic Organization of Burkina Faso following a #YALILearns event.

At his most recent #YALILearns event, Ibrahima gathered more than 1,000 people in Sourou Province’s Lanfiera village, including members of the Youth Democratic Organisation of Burkina Faso—a national youth organization he leads. “We discussed democracy in Burkina Faso and talked about [how important it is] for community members to get involved in the country’s democratic process,” he says. “We showed them how they can control the actions of the local government.”

Now, he says, “people in Lanfiera are better organized and they have regular meetings with local community leaders to discuss issues they face in their community.”