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Inauguration of a new village school in Gnoumankuy
on the 16th of januari 2002

During a visit to Burkina-Faso in 1999 our contactman and coordinator Zéphyrin Bagnawa told us of his dream to build a school in his native village of Gnoumankuy. They had no school at all in Gnoumankuy at that time and the vast majority of adults and children could neither read nor write. These people saw no way out of this situation on their own.

Ob returning to Belgium we took up this issue with a number of friends and benefactors. Thanks to their generosity we were able to start with the construction of this school in 2000. The building was ready one year later in 2001, consisting of three classrooms of some 60 pupils each and a store room. It turned out ot be a solid building made of the best construction materials, and furnished in a pleasant and functional manner. The indoor temperaurtes in the classrooms remain quite pleasant even with temperatures of up to 40°C outside. And thus Zéphyrin Bagnawa's dream became reality. The school has meanwhile been officially recognized by the state and two teachers and a headmaster have been appointed. Proper lavatory facilities were added in 2002-2003 and solid fencing was placed around the school ground perimeter. Drilling a water well took quite a bit of effort, lasting several months in fact, but having progressed past the bedrock the ground water level finally came within reach; clean and safe drinking water, what a relief.

During our visit to Gnoumankuy in January 2002 the entire village community gave us a resounding welcome at the occasion of the inauguration of the village school. The following pictures will give you some idea of this unforgettable experience:                              

  

Pictures of Gnoumankuy:     (click on any photo to enlarge)

  

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1)  A view of the new school at Gnoumankuy, the pride of the whole community. Notice the national flag of Burkina-Faso hoisted in the compound. The children go to school in the daytime, and in the evening the adults take their place so that they also can learn to read and write ...

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2) On the 16th of  januari 2002,  the children of the village gathered in the compound outside the new school.

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3) & 4)  The grown ups, having donned their very best clothes, also join the children in order to participate in the festivities. The local musicians are also there, with their balaphones and tam-tams. They lend a great sense of occasion to the celebrations with their rhythmic music and singing.

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5) & 6)  the children line up in order to prepare for the arrival and welcoming of the dignitaries.

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7) Having arrived on site, the Belgian guests proceed to pay their respects to each of the village elders.

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8) A special reception area with sun roof was erected in the middle of the school compound, for the comfort of the visitors. These included the guests from Belgium, Father Zéphyrin Bagnawa, the prefect of the province, the inspector from the ministry of education and the village elders.

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9) The school principal wishes the guests a warm welcome.

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10) Brief introduction of the school council.

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11) A young school student recites a poem.

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12) en 13)  The honourable guests remain one and all ear during the various episodes of this important celebration.

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14)  The school principal invites the provincial prefect to speak a few words. The latter is lavish in his praise and expresses his deep respect and appreciation with regard to this achievement.

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15)  The Imam of the village reiterates the words of the prefect and he himself also expresses his profound thanks and appreciation with regard to these valuable new facilities.

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16)  Our contactman Zéphyrin Bagnawa waxes eloquent now that his dream has come true. Also he is generous in his thanks and praise to all those who have helped to turn this dream into reality.

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17) en 18)  Father Wilfried Verhaert (Dean of Antwerp Cathedral) thanks his hosts on behalf of the benefactors, for the warm welcome. He expresses his appreciation for the great care and expediency with which this project was carried out. The manner in which the village community combined their efforts in carrying out this project augurs well for future of this school. In conclusion he expressed his hope that the school principal and teachers would reap ample rewards for their commitment and enthousiasm in carrying out their important duties as teachers.

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19)  The time has come to hand over a number of gifts ...

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20)  What a magnificent African hat ...

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21)  Awarding the chieftain's staff ... ("le bâton de chef").

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22)  The guests unite with the school principal and teachers prior to visiting the school premises.

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23) The interior of one of the classrooms.

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24)  Father Wilfried writes a good wish for the school on the board: meilleurs voeux pour l'école de Niamankuy - "with every good wish for the school of Nyamankuy"  (Gnoumankuy)

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 25)  At the end of the inaugural celebrations the provincial prefect confided to us that "Gnoumankuy has gained much esteem with the building of this school". 

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26) en 27)  We have now given these young Africans real hope for a better future.

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 28) The school at Gnoumankuy bears special significance for us as it is the first school we arranged to build in Africa. This gave us good reason to return to Gnoumankuy in February 2004, to find an industrious community of teachers and pupils: all three classes filled to capacity.

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 29)  Three houses were built in 2004  for the teachers and their families. Work continued meanwhile with the water well drilling. This job proved more challenging than first anticipated but the well was completed successfully. We wish the school at Gnoumankuy every success inf the future. (Photo: supplying the 'bricks' for building the houses... these bricks are in fact solid stones which have had to be patiently carved out individually by hand from the bedrock in a nearby quarry, and then shaped brick by brick to the right dimension.
 

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