Here are the stories of some of our graduates, who overcame poverty and, in some cases, physical adversity to excel in their studies.
Pélagie is one of BWEF’s first students. She has completed her course work for a Master’s in hydrology, after being accepted at the prestigious International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (2iE) in Ouagadougou. The European Union funded one student per African country, and she won the scholarship for Burkina Faso. She is now working on her dissertation, while holding down a full-time job with the Norwegian Refugee Council in the town of Kongoussi, about 70 miles north of Ouagadougou. It’s a dangerous area. The Council works at bringing potable water to persons displaced by the violence in the north, and provides information on hygiene and water purification.
Pélagie was from a poor family in Koudougou. To save money, she bought her lunch at a little stand outside the gate and focused on her objectives.
After graduating, as is common in Burkina, Pélagie took on a series of unpaid internships and landed a contract working on water sanitation projects. And she got married and had two children. She visits her husband and children at weekends while working in Kongoussi.
Congratulations Pélagie. The future looks bright for this outstanding and determined student.
BWEF supported Natacha for two years from 2013 to 2015 while she earned a certificate from the prestigious agriculture school at Matourkou in Bobo-Dioulasso. She passed the civil service competition and has tenure for life. She had been advising farmers in the east of the country, but then terrorist activity in the area shut down her project. She’s been re-assigned.
Rita is a doctor now working full-time in a hospital. We helped fund her studies in medicine at a public university. She always had outstanding grades although her parents tried to persuade her to switch to another subject because of the financial burden. On one of Fred Eckhard’s visits, Rita mentioned her stethoscope was in bad shape. A neighbour of Fred’s in France, who worked in the medical supply business, found one for her, and she was delighted.
Haoua is a specialist in rural agriculture and obtained a degree in Project Management funded by BWEF. She was the first of our Master’s degree students to successfully defend her thesis. Her work was based on a sesame crop initiative involving a rural women’s cooperative. She’s been working as an accountant to pay the rent. In 2022 she also started her own NGO, Just a Smile. Its members contribute money and time to deliver food to the elderly poor and to give aid to orphan
Jacqueline completed a Master’s in environment and sustainable development while being funded by BWEF from 2012 to 2017. She successfully defended her thesis in 2019 with an excellent grade of 17.50/20. In 2022, she got a trial contract as head of a transborder project on social cohesion and peace funded by the UN Development Programme. It looks like the beginning of a beautiful career. Jacqueline is married with two children.
Hélène now works as chief accountant at a university and was one of our first graduates (2010-2015).
Her father died when she was six and her mother was ill. She finished her Master’s in accounting in early 2017, despite having serious health problems and overcoming a period of depression after her mother died. BWEF paid for her medical treatment.
We also gave her a loan to buy a motorbike, which she repaid in just 10 months. She married a consular official and is starting her new life as part of a two-salary family.
Brigitte is a teacher who had been working in the “Red Zone” near the border with Mali until her school was closed because of repeated terrorist attacks. She’s now moved back to the city. Fred first visited Brigitte at home in 2013. Her mother, a widow, slept on a mat with six children. There was no electricity. Brigitte had dropped out of school two years before. She wanted to become a primary school teacher but saw no way of getting there. BWEF began supporting her in her final year in secondary school. In 2015, she completed a two-year training programme as a primary school teacher. BWEF paid for her to take the preparatory course for national government service after she failed the competitive exam, and she passed in 2016.
Sophie is a midwife. She grew up in a rural village where her mother, who is half blind, farms to feed the family. Her father died when she was young. She had a hard time passing her secondary school diploma, but was determined to become a midwife. On three occasions she rode her bicycle 25km to come and meet with us. BWEF funded her studies and provided supplementary funding for an internship in the bush. She performed brilliantly at one of the best nursing schools in the country, passing the government service exam with flying colours. Now she delivers about 30 babies a month, and has a job for life. She’s helping her mother to send her younger brothers to school. Sophie is married to her high school sweetheart, a teacher with whom she has a son.
Despite being crippled by polio as a baby, Jeanne now has a government job specialising in Human Resources after BWEF paid for her to attend the preparatory course for the competitive public service exam. Before that she’d failed the annual exam ten times. After just three months of her course, she sailed through the government test with the top marks in her group.