In Burkina Faso today, only 5% of girls from rural backgrounds manage to finish the secondary cycle of their schooling. Boarding schools make it possible to encourage girls to continue their studies by shielding them from often malevolent landlords who take advantage of the fact they are away from home, exploiting and abusing them, often sexually.


Marthe Girard is actively involved in setting up boarding schools for girls and often speaks out against the abuse. She set up the Talitha Koumi – meaning “Young girl, stand up” – association, whose job is to manage the boarding house in the village of Bokin, in northern Burkina Faso. In 2001, Marthe was looking for partners to finance the operation and the construction of these boarding facilities.


The Clubs in Nord Pas-de Calais came forward to support the association through several initiatives over a three year period.  From 2009 to 2012, within the framework of the program entitled “EDUCATION and LEADERSHIP”, they financed the rent together with the wages of the caretaker and supervisor – a sum amounting to €2,400 a year. To establish some financial autonomy, they bought a few chickens and laying hens and set up a smallholding. This has enabled them to trade, bringing in enough money to provide meals for the children and to partly cover the two salaries.


The village donated a parcel of land measuring over one hectare to Talitha Koumi which enabled the association to go ahead and start constructing its own accommodation.  Once the construction work is completed with no more rent left to pay, the operational costs of the boarding school will be covered by the henhouse profits and the girls’ boarding fees. Over the long term, the idea is for the project to be self-financing and Béthune Club has stepped in to lend its support to fulfilling this aim.


The first stage of the project, started in 2013, is now just about completed. It comprises the construction of a dormitory block, a study area for 24 girls and a shower block. In 2013, Béthune Club raised €5,000 on the back of various fundraising initiatives. This sum was doubled thanks to a generous donation out of the 2013 SIE Action Fund. With €10,000 collected, the dormitory walls started to shoot up! Members of SI Club Béthune visited the site in September 2014 and were able to see for themselves the work progressing under Lazare Zango, appointed by Talitha Koumi to manage the building work.


Fin des travaux de la maçonnerie


Since 2015, the SIE Action Fund donated an additional €3,000 to the project, whilst Béthune Club raised another €14,000. This sum made it possible to meet the architect’s costs and to resume construction.


Ulla Madsen, SIE Past-President and in charge of the Action Fund, has personally congratulated us on the excellent progress achieved to date. A further contribution will be sent this year in order to complete this first phase of construction, €16,109 still being needed to pay for the first dormitory, study area and shower block.


SI Club Béthune is busy trying to secure grants from various foundations and organizations to finance the rest of the project which will ultimately provide accommodation for 48 girls.


Any clubs interested in getting involved with this project are most welcome!

Are you keen? Please contact us!