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Update: Burkina Faso village fire


Destroyed homes in Burkina Faso
Fire destroys village in Burkina Faso

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June 16, 2009
- Dan Dyck, with reports from Anne Garber Kompaore and Hippolyto Tshimanga

Ouagadougou — Mennonite Church Canada will help purchase emergency food supplies for families who lost homes and stocked granaries in devastating village fires on May 21. Anne Garber Kompaore, Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker in Burkina Faso, first reported on the devastating fire that swept through the village of Kangala on May 21 that left almost 500 people without homes or food.

The lightening-triggered fire has left homeless 52 families, destroyed 228 huts, and destroyed food stores in granaries, as well as kitchen utensils, clothing, and some motorcycles and bicycles. Although the fire left the walls of huts intact, the thatched roofs are lost and residents are scrambling to re-shelter as the rainy season approaches.

Firefighters were summoned from Bobo-Dioulasso, 130 kms away to Kangala. They arrived around 10 pm and fought the fire until 2:30 am.  

Lightning, accompanied by strong winds, also struck in two other villages at about the same time, killing a mother and two children and burning five houses.

A local committee has been organized to coordinate relief efforts. The government has provided food grain. The local Mennonite church immediately gave a contribution of about $600, and followed up with a commitment to replace several roofs with tin.

Several Christian families of the Mennonite church in Kangala are among those who lost their homes and belongings, as many had been working in the fields when the fire started. These include Joel Traore and his family, the founder of the church in Kangala, as well as his son and daughter-in-law, Emmanel and Lois. Emmanuel had just finished his first year of Bible School. Lois, the daughter of the (late) Cheba, the first Christian of Kotoura, had just given birth the month before to her first child.

On June 15, Siaka Traore, President of the Evangelical Mennonite church of Burkina Faso, reported that villagers from surrounding areas are bringing thatch grass to help repair roofs. He also said that the Burkina Mennonite church (EEMBF) is focusing its attention on feeding the affected persons. Burkina Mennonite church leaders estimate that 20 tons of corn is needed.

Mennonite Church Canada and the other international members of the Burkina Faso Partnership Council are committed to responding. MC Canada will provide $2300 in additional funding for the emergency response, and is appealing for donations designated "Burkina Fire". Donations received in excess of this amount will be used for ongoing MC Canada Witness ongoing ministry in Burkina Faso.