Dear friends of our AMPO projects in Ouagadougou
hope you are enjoying a great summer with your families.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back in Africa after nearly three and a half months, despite being so happy to be in Germany for the spring. Apart from the success we had in fundraising, once again at the school in Torgelow for instance, I also celebrated my 70th birthday. I would never have imagined that so many people would remember me, pay tribute to my life’s work, congratulate me and give me the courage to continue into the next decade of my life. Thank you all.
I relinquished my position as AMPO Director a year ago and we started anew with two General Directors. However the second General Director left us rather suddenly early this year at her own request. Our African General Director, Denis Yameogo, gladly took up the reins, immediately assuming responsibility for AMPO together with all the other Project Directors. I am happy to say that the work is continuing in a spirit of harmony, mutual consideration and reliability. I am only there in the background to offer advice, working hard on a new fundraising strategy for Burkina Faso.
Back at AMPO I found the children happy and in good health and their welcome was very touching. Many of them reached the end of their school careers and were glad to be on holiday. Our workshops have started with favourite daily activities like dancing, cooking, soap-making, painting, reading, drumming and road safety. We do everything we can to expand the horizon of the children. I take some of them every day to the Tollsa farm. The farm belongs to my husband and we are in the process of creating a real eco-paradise where the kids play a major part. Each child learns how to plant a tree. At the moment we are building new stables. And so the children, many of whom are traumatised, can start to ride and it certainly does them good. They stand incredulous in front of horses twice as tall as they are. Apprehensive, they are hoisted into the saddle – and then that laugh that comes from a liberating sensation: I can do it! The result is a completely new feeling of self-confidence.
The same applies to the swimming lessons held every year during the hot season. Everyone here is afraid of water because in the rainy season many people drown in the large open rainwater ditches. There is a saying: “Water is good – in a bucket”. Before their first swimming lesson nearly all of the children are sobbing and trembling with fear, but afterwards they are bursting with pride. It is such a joy to see and it is confirmation that we are on the right track. A lost orphan finds happiness again, finds his own way in life. This is also reflected in the good school reports and in the positive atmosphere in all of the projects.
The annual traditional marbles competition is underway, girls versus boys in the orphanages. This is an art that has long since disappeared in Europe. Here however, the game of marbles is cultivated and is taken very seriously. This time the first prize is a top hat. It arrived in one of our containers and everyone wants to have it. It is indeed a coveted prize. Talking of containers, Thanks again for at least 40 boxes with knitted goods. The ladies in their knitting circles got out their loveliest patterns and sent us masterpieces of blankets, baby shoes, cardigans, hats for all the AMPO kids for the cold weather, pullovers for the older ones – we’re thrilled. Here is a photo of a very poor family who’ve just had twins. How happy they are to receive such support. Just one thing, however, it’s a lovely idea to pack sweets between the layers of knitted goods, but sadly everything melts in the heat here and we have to start washing sticky blankets sometimes. It is better to send sweets in bags, not individually. Unpacking the containers full of parcels so lovingly packed is always a source of joy because they are full of lovely things. This year there were lots of games. I’m sure we will enjoy them on rainy days at summer camp.
Poverty here is on the increase as we can see in P.P.Filles, our Women’s Counselling Centre. The President of Burkina Faso fails to keep his promises and corruption defies description. 95 out of 100 workshops have closed down, many building sites have ground to a halt. Just recently the Customs went on strike for 2 weeks and then the Tax Office, and all this in a country as poor as ours. Can you imagine the mass of containers piled on top of each other and mile-long queues of trucks? Hundreds of angry traders urgently waiting for their goods in front of the gates of the customs office with temperatures of 45 degrees in the shade (except there is no shade!). How can their families survive if they have nothing to sell? How can they pay the school fees that are due? AMPO also has a container standing there somewhere and 14 days later on top of all the hassle, we had to pay storage fees of EUR 10 a day. What a cheek!
The political situation is the reason why more and more poor people turn up on our doorstep. So please help us. Often we have to say no, we’d rather think of support in the long term, but faced with such extreme poverty, even we cannot turn a blind eye. A widow with four children and no income is someone to whom I have to give money for food, or pay her rent before she can be given a microcredit. Every month we give 10 sacks of maize or millet to poor people, especially widows with large families, elderly women or men without a family. It could be 30 sacks – we would manage this with your help.
We cannot do this without you. The need is simply too great. We want to help as many people as possible in a sustainable way and improve their situation in life in the long term. This is the only way to provide people with help to help themselves. All of you are involved in this and we owe you a debt of gratitude.
Wishing you all the best from Ouagadougou in the rain – only a month late. The first seeds dried out in the fields, but we haven’t given up. The second seeds have now been sown.
Hope springs eternal …
Katrin Rohde from Ouagadougou
Holiday workshops. Circus tricks are always popular with the boys – if not football!
Denis Yameogo, General Director of AMPO reports on the Projects
Dear friends of AMPO,
All of our children who didn’t have to sit final exams at school have been on holiday since the end of May. It’s time for everyone to enjoy our traditional workshops where they can choose among dancing, cooking, circus stunts, computer skills and soap-making, having fun and learning something useful at the same time. While some of them were enjoying being on holiday, others still kept a close eye on their school books, because they want to pass their primary, intermediate or higher leaving certificate exams. Congratulations are due to those who passed their exams already this year, including the 2 girls who passed their “A levels”. The ones who weren’t so lucky were consoled and given good advice, encouraged to do better next year.
The great highlight of activities in the orphanages is the passing out ceremony for those who have reached the age of majority and those who have completed their training. It is a day of sadness mixed with joy. One phase comes to an end and another opens up full of challenges and opportunities for these young people. However, the AMPO principle still applies: as long as we are here we will continue to provide unfailing support for all our former children. Those participating in the workshops were able to show off their talents to the audience and, as usual, it was a great party. After the celebration we start getting ready for summer camp. This year we are off to Sabou, a town famous for its sacred crocodiles. I’m sure the trip will be very eventful and we’ll keep you updated on our website. So much for the kids!
From the beginning of AMPO, Katrin Rohde has always been true to the maxim of “Africa for the Africans”. This can be seen more clearly than ever before in our Projects. Our Directors‘ Meetings are conducted in a spirit of harmony, differences of opinion are directly addressed and settled – usually with an African proverb and a shift from French to Mooré, another official language. The more the Project Directors become involved in AMPO issues, the more they identify with the projects. Being highly motivated, they produce great results and are proud of their achievements, not losing sight of the challenges to do even better. Thank you for your invaluable support, your donations, your interest and your committed work. You make it possible for us here to improve the lives of so many people so that the good is never lost.
General Director of AMPO
Sponsor a student – give them a future
Fifteen young people are about to leave the orphanages to take part in our Educational Support Programme. Most of them still have to complete their school education and the others will start vocational training. AMPO pays for their training and assumes the basic subsistence costs for these young people. Many of them will continue to receive support from their sponsors, but the cost of training is often much higher than the sponsors’ contributions and so we are in urgent need of patrons or contributors to offer additional educational support. We need your help.
Aida would like to become an interpreter
Zakaria wants to study law
Nadia wants to be a primary school teacher
Amidou wants to help the sick
Katrin Rohde: “My dear friends, I don’t know I can cope with all the good wishes I received on my birthday. I’m overwhelmed! A party in Hamburg, a party in Ouagadougou, more than 200 birthday cards, 50 texts, 50 emails, not to mention all sorts of letters and parcels. I’m lost for words. It is all so wonderful I would like to become 70 all over again. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Let’s meet again, who knows where, who knows when. I only hope it is sometime soon. Katrin in Ouagadougou.”
Ricarda Walzel and Babette Otto from the office with a garland of birthday cards for Katrin Rohde.
Sahel Open Day
For four years now we have been trying to add a bit of colour to the town of Plön with our Sahel shop. Especially in the summer months when a lot of tourists are drawn to Holstein Switzerland we meet new people we can talk to about our projects in Burkina Faso. Our shop now offers a wide variety of products from Burkina Faso: jewellery, home style articles, kitchen utensils, bags and clothing from our own workshops can be found among recycled products like lamps and small furnishings or shopping baskets made of plastic bags.
The premises are also home to the charity office. This is the hub of our administration. Once a year we invite people to get together and meet up with us in Plön. On the 5th Open Day on 26th May 2018 we had the opportunity once more to sample African snacks, try out a tricycle wheelchair and have a chat with the staff and Katrin Rohde herself.
What does the charity actually do? How can I help? Who can translate a letter to my sponsored child? How do products from Germany or donations in kind get to Burkina Faso? These are typical questions that our experienced staff respond to when chatting to our visitors at Open Day.
A gripping lifestory
There are many stories to tell in life. One very special story is that of Katrin Rohde. It is a story that has not only radically changed her own life, but has saved the lives of many children, young people and adults and continues to do so. It is a life between the red sand of the desert and the sand on the banks of the River Elbe. But why? What is she doing there?
Katrin Rohde travels around Europe giving presentations, rummaging through old photographs of the first days spent in a foreign country, telling about the people there and the valuable projects she created. The first orphans – what has become of them? What is the secret of her many years of success? Do you want to find out more? O.K. let’s organise an event with Katrin Rohde. Contact us and together we will find an opportunity to bring the extraordinary story of Katrin Rohde to other people aound you.