Dorcas House: Reaching At-Risk Girls in Burkina Faso

By Amy Nehlsen

dorcus-houseOur lives are filled with choices. We have to make them every day. What will I eat for lunch? What should I wear to work or school? Do I have time to share a cup of coffee with a friend? Can I really afford to buy this with the economy the way it is?

For many young women in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the choices are even more difficult: should I buy food for myself or the medicine to treat my malaria? Should I beg on the corner today or sell my body for $1?

This may seem melodramatic, but it is a reality that many young girls face each day. With little or no education—only 21 percent of Burkina Faso’s women are literate—many are abandoned by their families and must fend for themselves. Their options are few.

Recognizing the need to rescue the next generation of women from certain spiritual and most likely physical death, the Alliance Women of the Burkina national church had a vision to reach them. In fall 2006, Nyagali Traoré, the ministry’s president, and I toured Alliance churches in the United States for three weeks, sharing our dream and vision to establish a home where young women with little hope for the future could receive both biblical and vocational training.

dorcus-houseToday, the dream is a reality. In November 2008, the Dorcas House welcomed 15 young women, ages 15–25. They will live at Dorcas House and receive biblical, literacy, and vocational training. Residents will learn to sew, make soap, knit and crochet as well as learn skills in animal husbandry, gardening, hair-styling, and more.

At age 18, Elizabeti is on her own. She was raised by her single mom, who later remarried. After the death of Elizabeti’s step-father, her mom also became very ill and died in 2005, leaving her with a little brother to care for. Because Elizabeti had lived in a village, she did not attend school.

I first met Elizabeti in Côte d’Ivoire when her mother attended our Alliance church and became my language helper. As a single mom, she was happy for the job and came regularly with Elizabeti, who became my daughter’s playmate when the girls were two years old. Since 2005, Elizabeti has worked as a servant girl for an African family. She has not attended school and has been trapped in a very bad situation, not knowing how to get out of it.

Elizabeti came back into my life this past summer, and I was so excited to offer her the opportunity of Dorcas House. I began to imagine her in a place where she could receive spiritual formation, memorize the Word of God, and sing and pray with other girls. I could picture her participating in every occasion to learn new skills and activities. That is now becoming a reality.

Pray for Elizabeti and 14 other young women who will call Dorcas House their home. Pray for unity among house residents who come from varied backgrounds and bring with them the emotional and spiritual baggage of lives lived in desperation with no hope.

Pray for good health for the girls and for the staff. Pray that God will provide operating funds and that His hand of blessing will be on Dorcas House.

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