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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Social Justice

I am writing this after spending 4 weeks in Burkina Faso:

It is an odd feeling having spent a whole month in Africa. There are moments of disbelief where I wake expecting to look up at the middle earth poster I have on my wall. I’ve already mentally prepared myself for my usual routine, clambering out of bed to stumble down the stairs for breakfast covering my eyes from the glare of the midday sun, reflected through the kitchen windows. Instead I wake up early, usually around 7, and either take a taxi or walk to work. I feel healthier this way and my appetite has grown since being here. 

Users and Ed at ARCHE playing skittles


The work can often be draining especially when the heat of the day comes upon us. Our project with ARCHE on Wednesdays has developed as we begin to teach them Boccia, a sport that is being promoted in Burkina Faso. ARCHE is a community center for those who have intellectual disabilities. It was set up by a Canadian man associated with the catholic church in the 1960's. Their are also other ARCHE communities around the globe that work towards a similar goal. It is pleasing to see this establishment serving those who would otherwise be completely marginalised, giving them an opportunity to enjoy life. It is a place peaceful in both its location outside the centre of Ouaga and ethos, giving its residence a haven from the prejudices they would otherwise encounter. This reminds me of a quote I heard once on the radio, it was on the topic of social justice. One of the guests claimed that you may judge a country by how it treats its poorest, or in this case it’s most vulnerable. Though I can understand this may not always take into account every factor, it is a thought provoking social comment that should not be overlooked due to its simple, even black and white premise.

Mark Birkett

Users at ARCHE practicing boccia

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