Child mortality rates in Burkina Faso have been falling for decades, but hampering further progress has been a serious shortage of skilled nursery staff.
For the past half-decade, Mission Enfance, a Monegasque organization that works to support children facing dire situations around the world, has worked to address this gap.
In 2013, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) supported Mission Enfance in constructing and outfitting a new training center for nursery assistants in the village Guié, adjacent to an infant healthcare center and nursery for abandoned children. This training center, completed in 2014, is the first of its kind in Burkina Faso. It employs an approach to childcare pioneered by 20th-century Hungarian pediatrician Emmi Pikler, which emphasizes respect for infants as individual human beings who act of their own initiative. Each year, around 20 trainees have graduated from the center.
The SNF grant also provided for two years of operating expenses, but by bringing in other donors, Mission Enfance was able to stretch SNF’s funding out through this year. Though SNF’s support has now concluded, there is a hope that the Burkinabé government will eventually choose to provide funding for the center. In the meantime, a fundraising strategy is in place to ensure its sustainability.
SNF has partnered with Mission Enfance on a number of projects since 1999. These include education-related projects in Lebanon, Columbia, Armenia, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Syria. In 2009, SNF supported Mission Enfance in the construction and outfitting of a secondary school, also in Guié, with the aim of giving children the opportunity to pursue their education without leaving the region. And in 2002, SNF supported the organization in the construction of a school in Kuila.