JOURNEY WITH ACN is our Friday newsletter which will be regularly posted to our blog.
Our weekly newsletter was designed to provide us with an opportunity to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and with some of the projects we have been able to realize together with ACN benefactors.
This week: Burkina Faso
Support for a centre for young single and expectant mothers
In Burkina Faso women have a very low position socially. Only 14% of them can even read or write. The number of girls and young women bringing up one or more children alone is on the increase.
Media influence has led to an increase in sexual promiscuity, and when a girl does get pregnant the young father is, more often than not, unwilling to take responsibility for the child.
Sadly, it is also common that the young woman will not find support or help from her parents either.In fact, most are likely to kick her out of the house – often on the pretext of the traditional belief that it will bring misfortune on the family if a daughter gives birth in her parents home.
Many girls attempt to abort the child somehow or other, with great risk to their own lives in the attempt. Others give birth, but will abandon the child somewhere on a street corner. Some bravely attempt to get by on their own with their child. Often these women fall into prostitution, simply to survive. This results in the continuum of a vicious survival spiral, since many become infected with the HIV virus making their lives all the more difficult, and frequently, they often become pregnant again.
The Catholic Church in Dedougou has created a centre for pregnant girls and young mothers, where they are taken- in and given as much care and support as possible. They receive not only practical, material and pastoral help, but at the same time they can get vocational training and acquire a useful skill.
Elodie is one such young mother whose story has ended well. At the age of 17 she was married by her strictly Muslim family to a much older man whom she did not know and who already had several wives.
She was given no other choice, and had she not obeyed, she would have been thrown out by her family. The two months following her wedding were a living hell for her, and she decided to run away. She managed to find her way to the capital, nearly a hundred miles away, but she knew absolutely no one there. Spontaneously, the idea came to her to seek shelter with Catholic nuns, who did indeed lovingly take her in.
They quickly noticed that Elodie was pregnant and put her in touch with the “Carmen Kisito” centre in Dedougou. “I harboured great hatred in my heart towards my family and towards the man I had been forced to marry. I wanted never to see them again. I also felt unable to accept my daughter, Djami, since in my eyes she was responsible for my misfortune. But the more I came to know Jesus, the more I realised that I had to forgive them all. After a three-year long journey, I was preparing to receive Baptism at Easter. I was full of joy at the thought that God would forgive me all my sins and renew me. It was then that I realised that I must also forgive all those who had harmed me. Hatred and revenge could no longer have any place in my life. In my heart I forgave them, therefore. My Baptism was a moment of immense joy for me. I was immersed in a joy that I had never known before and there was a sense of deep peace in my heart.”
After her baptism, Elodie went to visit her family to be reconciled with them. “It was not easy for me, but rather an inner struggle. But through the grace of God I was able to meet them. My father was both astonished and very happy to see his daughter again after almost 5 years, and the reconciliation with my family took place in great joy.”
She did not again see the man whom she had been forced to marry, but she has forgiven him too, in her heart. Today Elodie is able to stand on her own two feet. She has trained as a hairdresser and now earns enough to support herself and her little daughter.
ACN has been supporting the work of this centre, and is doing so again this year with a grant of $29 400 .