Protective Fencing for Village Pre-school By Volunteer Geraldine Auel

group shotIt all started with the fence in 2014.  The preschool staff insisted on the need for an enclosure to protect the children.  Two children had already been injured by speeding motorcycles since the preschool was moved to its new location in the middle of a large bare area in the center of the village.  When I reluctantly agreed to present the project for the Action Plan exercise, I did not imagine the impact the fence would have on the community.  In fact, when we later presented the Action Plan at a parents’ meeting, parents immediately agreed to a special fee of $1.00. Donations flowed in immediately thereafter, totaling 106 of the over 120 students enrolled.  Approval of the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) grant gave the preschool staff and community members confidence and satisfaction knowing that others cared about their efforts. Construction was completed quickly by a contractor during the summer months before the opening of school on October 3, 2014. Unanticipated excess funds were used to build a long dreamed of shelter on the school grounds also during the summer.  The shelter serves as an extra classroom as well as a lunch and recreation area.  animalsThe two funded projects prompted undertaking the construction of a sandbox as well. A sandbox was constructed with the few remaining funds, a small third party contribution from Plan Burkina, and strong community involvement. The sandbox was completed on November 15, 2014 with local and third-party funding (the NGO Plan Burkina).  The community succeeded in providing a secure environment for the preschool children by eliminating cross vehicular traffic and animal presence, as well as safeguarding playground equipment and ensuring the children were well supervised. The parents’ committee planted a variety of shade and fruit trees knowing that trees would now be protected from traffic and animal browsing.  Children were made aware of the benefit of trees and they show their pride in their preschool by working together to keep the playground clean and safe. Parents have commented that they are very satisfied to have a proper preschool playground.  Community members were very pleased with the quality of the work.  They agree the fence and the sign on the gate, “Bisongo de Rouko” have added to the prestige of the town. It is apparent to all visitors that the community boasts an attractive and well-established preschool. The fence serves as the guardian for the preschool. Trees planted by parents in August 2013 and stunted through vandalism and animal browsing were now protected.  On August 24, 2014, the steering committee (COGES) added other varieties of trees to total 135.  The trees are watered by a volunteer on a regular basis. Attendance at the inaugural ceremony numbered over 150, including parents, children, visitors, officials, the traditional head of the village, the mayor, the prefect, the primary school inspector, as well as visitors from neighboring preschools. The Ministry of Social Action (Action Sociale), and the ONG Plan Burkina were also present.  A dance troupe performed and the preschool children danced and sang.   The ceremony was well received and was funded entirely through local resources again attesting to community engagement.  Above all, pupils are now protected from speeding motorcycles crossing the school grounds.  Parents are confident their children are in a secure environment where they are safe and cannot wander off during school hours.  Preschool education has been given its rightful prestige and value.