Since Hans Hoegh first walked the streets of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, talking to the poor and neglected, listening to them describe the grim particulars of lives spent without help or hope, A Better Life Foundation has concentrated its efforts on the West African nation of Burkina Faso. This was not only because the needs of the poor were so clear and so great, but because that country—which ranks as one of the world’s poorest—had, two decades ago, relatively few humanitarian agencies working there. Burkina Faso, because it was largely free of ethnic or political violence, had received relatively little attention from Western nations and from relief agencies.

What those Westerners who spent time in Burkina Faso found was a small (100,000 square miles, about the size of the state of Colorado) landlocked country in the heart of West Africa, with few roads, no national transportation system, no appreciable industry, and a government offering minimal services to address the needs of its largely poor, predominantly rural population. In the years since ABLF opened an office in Ouagadougou many aid agencies have carried out missions in Burkina Faso, and a number of indigenous nonprofits have formed to bring new levels of help to their country’s poor and disenfranchised. Clinics, similar to the one started by ABLF in Ouagadougou, have been built. Additional international nonprofits have sent surgical and eye care teams into the country’s largely rural provinces. International aid agencies have funded the construction of several hundred new schools, and the expansion of the nation’s university. New infrastructure, including roads, power plants, water purification projects, and even a digital network, are being funded by Western nations and the World Bank. However, despite these actions, Burkina Faso remains a profoundly impoverished nation.

Current estimates place 60% of its population of 16.5 million below the poverty line. More than 9 million people are living on annual incomes of $670.00 or less. The very poorest are struggling to survive on an income as small as $1.00 a day. Approximately 80% of the adult working population are still dependent on subsistence agriculture. And while rudimentary health care has reached more of the population, life expectancy remains at approximately 50 years for males and 52 years for females. But while life expectancy rates have not climbed, fertility rates have. Burkina Faso has the sixth highest fertility rate in the world, meaning that its population of children and youth continues to expand. The median age of a citizen of Burkina Faso is now just 16.7, placing further severe strains on the country’s social services and economy.

The United Nations Human Development Index, which ranks nations worldwide based on a lengthy list of statistics, including health, education, and the economy, places Burkina Faso 183rd out of a total of 186 nations.

Because education is at the heart of any nation’s attempt to transform itself, ABLF, Inc. focuses all of its resources and energy on making it possible for more impoverished children to go to school, to stay in school and to graduate. And, because it believes that those likeliest to understand the needs, beliefs, and hopes of those seeking a better life are those who come from the same society, ABLF, Inc. remains a grass-roots nonprofit. Its staff are all citizens of Burkina Faso, and those they serve are encouraged to have a voice in policy decisions.

Please join us in our work. Help us to give more disadvantaged children the opportunity to reach for a better life. Every dollar counts.