By Esther Schaeffer, serving in Burkina Faso
Alliance people are providing relief assistance to Tuareg (an Arabic term meaning “abandoned by God”) refugees in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. As of early March, more than 19,000 refugees had fled to various part of Burkina from northern Mali due to unrest there.
Since the beginning of February, we have seen Tuareg families arriving in our city daily. We view this as an opportunity to share the love and compassion of Christ with this people—historically, they’ve been staunch adherents of the region’s predominant religion.
Schooling, Critical Needs Met
One small window of opportunity has been to provide schooling for Tuareg children. (According to the online news source allAfrica, the major concern of Tuareg mothers at this time is the education of their children.)
We placed three of our Christian school teachers at the site where our refugees are being housed in the city’s old stadium. We also have facilitated daily interactions with the larger community and provided food, mats, blankets, buckets, and medicine as needed.
A government official had told us that by March 1, Burkina public schools would have spaces for all the refugee children. True to their word, officials arrived last week and asked our teachers to escort the students to their new classrooms at one of the local schools.
We are thankful that we were able to help in such a practical way and that it has been a bridge for us into this community.
The situation is still hard for us to sort out. I am at the stadium every day, and I work through the government’s social arm. When the official on site informs me if something is needed, I try to respond. I am sometimes told that there is no food, and so I get rice, tea, sugar, milk.
The refugees are told to go to the government clinic near the stadium for their medical needs. Most of them buy the medicine themselves. Recently, I’ve been given the prescriptions for families who’ve been unable to pay and filled them at a local pharmacy.
Burgeoning Food Crisis
ACCEDES has supplied a quantity of rice to refugee families but must be cautious in its commitments. We all know that many Burkinabe will be looking for help with food this year.
Even our Bible school students will soon be in need of food. So, all of us want to ensure that it is the neediest people who are being assisted.
Yet every day, more refugees arrive. An incredible 50 families arrived in our city of Bobo-Dioulassoon on one day last week. According to allAfrica, as of early March more than 19,000 Tuareg refugees had fled to various parts of Burkina from northern Mali.
Continue to pray that God will allow us to lead many Tuaregs to Christ during “such a time as this.”
What You Can Do
When you give to the Great Commission Fund, you support Alliance workers, like Esther Schaeffer, who often give of their own limited resources to assist those in great need of material and spiritual help.
Please continue to pray that this refugee crisis will work together for the salvation of many Tuareg families and children. Pray, too, that the team will have godly wisdom as they seek to respond to the needs and share the good news about Jesus with this people whom God has not abandoned.
Check out a report about the 5oth anniversary celebration of the FEME, Burkina’s Federation of Evangelical Churches and Missions. Learn how the C&MA has had a big part in the Body of Christ’s explosive expansion in Burkina.
Read more about the Tuareg refugee crisis at the allAfrica site:
“Burkina Faso: Anxiety and Concern Among Tuareg Refugees,” February 15, 2012.
“West Africa: UN Reports Continued Inflow of Refugees,” March 2, 2012.
Note: Clicking on the allAfrica links will take you off of the C&MA Web site.