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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

L'Arche 'Fund Fair' success! by Gerry Grandon

From 11am on Sunday 19th October, ‘Masion deux’ – the residence of the 3 British volunteers on the Arche project – became a fair ground that blended together Burkinabé and British customs to provide fun, games and refreshments whilst simultaneously making possible the continuation of our Outreach sports project within the community of Saaba, Ouagadougou. This project aspires to provide support and sports training for the intellectually disabled in Burkina Faso, a place where prejudice and discrimination towards the intellectually handicapped leaves them marginalised and under supported. Through our sports programme we provide both physical and mental stimulation, which improves the overall health of the athletes, whilst simultaneously developing social skills such as team work, patience, comprehension and communication skills. The development of such skills is essential in realising the long term objectives of this projects; the integration of intellectually handicapped people into the community. Furthermore sport provides opportune moments to raise awareness about such disabilities, as the fun activities we create often draw in crowds comprised of both children and adults. This directly combats the negative, preconceived notions of disability which currently act as an exclusive force within Burkinabé society.
Our fund raising fun fair, for 2000 cfa entry (£2.50), included an entire days worth of activities including ‘orange bobbing’, ‘guess the beans in the jar’, ‘whack a rat’ and the throwing of various sized balls into different shaped targets. Prior to the event Callum had also fashioned a life sized picture of a zebra which spent the day trying to reunite with its tail, as guests (particularly the Burkinabé among us) enjoyed being blindfolded, spun and sent off to prove their knowledge of animal anatomy. There was a raffle with three shelves worth of prizes which was used to entice and reward participants. Prizes included African art pieces, a Burkina Faso football jersey, jewellery and loads more that were all donated by the volunteers on the project L’Arche.
Despite the water cutting out on the morning of the event, the volunteers under Daisy and Gerrard’s lead, still managed to utilise the small kitchen and few utensils to provide all guests with ‘yam chips’ and alloco, delicately seasoned with salt and piment, to generate a significant proportion of income. The queue became so long that a second bottle of oil event had to be run and bought during the event. Drinks of both an alcoholic and soft nature were sold throughout the day to further the generation of money to our cause, including a hugely popular punch fashioned with tropical juices, pineapple and rum, carefully blended and in a winning ratio.

At appropriate moments during all events we were able to reiterate the importance of every cfa collected and to thank everyone for coming and for their enthused participation. We were delighted, after counting up the total amount raised by our fundraising event, to find we’d made 81,150 cfa which exchanges at around £104. This money will cover the total transport costs of three weekly sports sessions to continue operating throughout Ouagadougou for a further 10 weeks. For now we are happy, as the programme can continue, however it’s sad that we have only bought a small amount of time before we must again re-evaluate the sustainability of the sports programmes. For those who suffer with intellectual disabilities, the most vulnerable members of society, who cannot speak for themselves, these sessions provide a much awaited weekly event where they can gather with friends and compete at sport. We hope for their sakes we can use the time bought by our fundraising event to find a more long term solution to the endemic lack of funding for disability sports programmes in Burkina Faso. The more Outreach groups we are able to provide for, the more of these delicate members of society International Service can continue to support. 

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