Fred's Story

WHEN I RETIRED AS SPOKESPERSON...

“When I retired as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Spokesperson in 2005, my wife Kathryn and I moved to Brittany, in northwest France. We found a dream house with a view of the sea. I thought I was in paradise. But I developed this gnawing feeling that it was time to give something back.

“And, as is so often is the case, circumstance came into play. The woman we bought our house from, Gilberte Saint Cast, had started a humanitarian organization in 2000 to help girls in need in Burkina Faso to finish secondary school.

“I travelled with Gilberte and her husband to Burkina Faso in 2009 and 2010, each time for a couple of weeks. What struck me most was, yes, these were among some of the poorest people on earth, but they were brimming with optimism and ready to work hard.

“I couldn’t help getting more involved. I worked alongside Gilberte, but I wanted to do more. Why not support girls at the university level, I thought?”

“I couldn’t help getting more involved. I worked alongside Gilberte, but I wanted to do more. Why not support girls at the university level, I thought?

“In the 14 years since I founded BWEF/Chance for Change, the charity has helped lift over 110 young women…, the charity has helped lift over sixty young women in Burkina Faso out of poverty by financing their higher education—at university, at nursing school and in teacher training. Since 2010, every young woman financed by Gilberte who passed the baccalaureate exam has received a grant from BWEF to further her education. 

“I know each beneficiary and her circumstances in detail and report back to donors during each trip so that they can understand the transparency of our funding system”

“Initially, to fund BWEF, my wife and I reached out to our local community. We live in a little fishing village, where just about everyone knows everyone. So with the help of our friends and neighbors, I organized a Car Rally and a wine tasting (I love wine). These events not only raised money, but also helped integrate us into our community. But also my former UN colleagues, as well as other friends and family members, have been very generous all along.

“I visit the country every year and try to see every young woman BWEF helps. I take photographs of them, their schools and homes to show donors how their money is being spent. 

“I know each beneficiary and her circumstances in detail and report back to donors during each trip so that they can understand the transparency of our funding system. In 2019, I met 52 young women in 16 days. Not only are they grateful for the help they receive from BWEF; they tell us that we’ve changed their lives.”

Frederic Eckhard

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