Transforming Lives – Siméon Bonkoungou

by ACT

  • Posted on May 5, 2017

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Siméon (2001) with ACT UK Director

Burkina Faso, is a landlocked country in West Africa with a population of approximately 19 million people. It is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, and an estimated 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line with the majority living on less than £1 a day. In addition, Burkina Faso has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, where more than 45% of Burkinabe children are uneducated. The school participation at both primary and secondary level is strongly affected by household living conditions. Geographic disparities show that living in rural areas is more damaging to a child’s schooling compared to living in urban areas, and orphans are more likely to miss out on education than non-orphans.

Twenty eight-year old Siméon Bonkoungou originates from Nièga, a village situated in the Centre-North region of Burkina Faso. He comes from a family of farmers and have four other siblings. Siméon’s father died just after he had started primary school, and the family could no longer afford school fees, uniforms and school materials. His two older sisters had to end their studies after obtaining their certificates of primary study, and it was likely that Siméon would also have to end his studies after obtaining his certificate of primary study. Recurrent and ever-longer droughts in the country put the family in an even more vulnerable position, as the insufficiency of rain in the region lead to dry crops and bad harvests.

Siméon first got in contact with the African Child Trust when the wife of the National Director of ACT in Burkina Faso, Mr. Constantin Ouedrago, started working as a teacher in his village, and became aware of the family’s situation. ACT started supporting Siméon in 2001, the year before he was to complete primary school. For Siméon the support was a surprise. It was timely and has proven to be an absolute blessing. Siméon reckoned that it would have been his last year of education had he not received the ACT sponsorship. He passed the primary school exams and was able to attend the local secondary school. With the sponsorship the family was able to buy food, clothes, including school uniform and school shoes, and all these during the many years of low rainfall and poor harvests in the country when many in the country, particularly in rural communities were suffering from food crisis. This gift drastically transformed Siméon’s life as he was able to concentrate on his studies with hope for a better future. On completion of the 7 years secondary school education, Siméon gained admission to the University of Ouagadougou to study Economics and Management Sciences. This achievement meant Siméon was now one of the privileged few, less than 1 percent of the population, to go to university.

Siméon (2016)

In 2015 he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree and stayed on to study for a Master degree in Economics which he completed in 2016.

Siméon’s ambition is to start his own business in the hope that this will lead to creating job opportunities and offering employment which will help to reduce the high level of unemployment in the country. He also would like to support poor households and improve their living conditions. The most important thing for Siméon is to help needy people in similar situations as he was by returning the favour and continuing the work of ACT in Burkina Faso.

ACT first started working in Burkina Faso in 2000 and since then has provided full education support for 114 children like Siméon and welfare support for an additional 284 children. More than 90 percent of these children have completed secondary school of which 12 attended university and 4 have graduated.

ACT child sponsorship is an opportunity to transform lives and change the circumstances of a family like Siméon’s. Find out how you can help here

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