Mandela Day 2021 – Planting a Tree to Strengthen The Spirit of Unity

Celebrated every July 18, Nelson Mandela International Day or Mandela Day was initiated in 2009 by UNESCO to maintain the legacy of the culture of peace that the former South African president always advocated. During this day, each citizen of the world is called upon to symbolically devote sixty-seven minutes of his or her time to a work of service to the community, in memory of the sixty-seven years that Mandela dedicated to his struggle for social justice, equality, reconciliation and cultural diversity.

It is to share in this spirit of commitment, community service and unity that the beneficiaries of U.S. cultural exchange programs in Burkina Faso have chosen to plant trees in Boussé on Saturday, July 31, 2021, to commemorate Mandela Day. Forty people who participated in were from different exchange programs, namely YALI MWF, YALI RLC, Fulbright and IVLP. They met in Boussé, a town located about fifty kilometers from the capital to plant 110 seedlings of various species in a vocational training center.

It was under a light rain that the participants, in teams, proceeded to the planting under the benevolent supervision of a technician in the field. To combine business with pleasure, team games and a community meal were held throughout the day.  This activity allowed participants not only to take a very useful step for themselves and for future generations, but it also served as a connection framework for the different participants. “I really enjoyed being a part of this day because we did a fabulous team effort. It is an activity to be repeated,” said one of the participants, and “I found a new family,” added another.

This activity was organized by the ABPEC (Cultural Exchange Programs Alumni Association of USA in Burkina Faso). For the organizers of this activity “this activity had a dual stake: a useful community action and especially a networking action to create and maintain the connection between the Exchange Programs Alumni of the Embassy of the United States in Burkina Faso.  And in view of the motivation, commitment and satisfaction expressed by our comrades, we are fully satisfied because the objectives have been achieved. We have worked together, we have recreated and created new links, a new family and we can be proud of that”.