I'm glad I ended my 9 years in Africa with Burkina Faso. It was a mellow place. People were kind. I was never harassed. We had a nice life. It was probably the happiest two years of my life.
Last night I was casually flipping through a magazine when MoBob brought over the laptop. The Washington Post had an article, a slide show, and a short video clip about one woman's day in Ouagadougou. I became teary-eyed and depressed. From time to time I wonder about the people who depended on us for their livelihoods. MB has a friend who's going to Burkina next month - we could send money with him, but how do we find, for example, our former housekeeper? She has our contact info but we don't have hers - she didn't have an email or cell phone. She was referred to us by my boss' housekeeper. Now my boss has transferred to Mali and presumably her housekeeper has found another job. We don't know how to track down Claire otherwise.
The WaPo article really hit home, not only because we lived in Burkina, but also because we've been to that market (it was near the office) and because of my background in gender issues, Fanta Lingani's story is a sadly familiar one. MB and I talked about the article for a long while. We reached one conclusion: the people in Ouagadougou, like Mme Lingani, are the lucky ones. If it's this bad in the capital city, it can only be worse in the rural areas.
Disclosure: I worked for Catholic Relief Services (mentioned in the article) when we were in Burkina Faso.