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Stories of transformation and empowerment...

Senior Advisor and Founder
Joanna ILBOUDO, tells about the beginning of ACTS. Read about ACTS formation...
Then, read Joanna's vision for the poor...


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Life is a struggle for women in Burkina Faso

Tradition, climate, economy and the country’s laws are not favorable towards women. Life is harsh in Burkina Faso.

Poor village women in Burkina Faso work hard and fifteen hour work days are not unusual. They work non-stop—at home and in the fields—from 4am to 10pm every day.

Women are not allowed to own the very land they farm, because customary law excludes women from land ownership, preventing them from all but the gruelling work of farming with crude tools. Visiting village fields is an eye-opening experience as women do backbreaking work with tools that look like something dug up by archaeologists.

A typical day for a village woman
Women rise early to sweep their homes, fetch water (not unusual for a well to be miles away) and prepare their children for school, if there is one nearby and if they have the money to pay school fees.

Sometimes a family must decide which child to send to school because they do not have the money for all to attend. Children are also needed at home to perform daily household tasks, work in the field and baby sit siblings.

Then women head for the small plots of land they farm, but do not own, to tend crops with no modern tools. After several hours working in the hot sun with temperatures running from 90 to 110, they return home to meet children who have returned from school.

If food is available, the mid-day meal is the “main” meal of the day.

Villagers eat dough made with millet cooked in a pot over an open fire.  It reminds one of dumplings. Sauce is made with tomatoes, onions and whatever leaves, seeds and vegetables are available.

This is not an adequate diet for growing children and their hard working mothers.

After a short rest, women return to the fields or to another task to earn income.

If they didn’t get a turn at the well in the morning, they return back to their plots to carry water, two watering cans at a time, to their crops.

Finally, after a day of literal non-stop work, they go to bed at 10pm or so.

It is long past dark and there is no electricity, no running water, no relaxing diversions.

Women living in cities do not have a better life. They are often forced into prostitution. It is not unusual to see very young Burkinabé girls with older men. From these men receive some food and a place to sleep. What else can an uneducated woman, with no property do? The situation is very grave with HIV/AIDS spreading to the young before they have a chance to really have a life and family of their own.

ACTS programs develop potential
This is why ACTS provides training to build skills other than farming. Literacy brings women into a new world where knowledge opens doors of opportunity. Literacy allows women an understanding of truth and gives them ways to develop their future. Vocational training gives women alternative ways to produce income when crops fail. Micro-enterprise training gives them good business sense…something never considered among the poor, especially among village women. Research, by groups such as the World Bank, shows that when we invest in women, there is an “important multiplier effect,” because women are mostly likely to share economic gains with family and community members.

ACTS program provides identity, builds skills and hope
Women need a way out of toil and despair.

Women need confidence. They need to know they have worth and can accomplish great things even if they live in humble surroundings.

They need to have courage to develop skills.

And more importantly, they need to move from the feelings of inadequacy to hopefulness.

ACTS programs directly reach more than 9,000 women in Burkina Faso.

  1. Literacy is encouraged. Village women rarely attend school when young. They have no reading or writing skills and have no way to learn about the world around them. Literacy opens a world of knowledge and empowers women for meaningful endeavors.

  2. Co-op Program for Women – small groups discuss issues, given training in leadership and business ethics,  taught steps to develop a viable business, encouraged to enlarge their vision, learn their value as valuable members of the community—all while increasing their income and becoming a cohesive group.

  3. Vocational programs allow women to choose avenues for money making projects.

  4. Micro-enterprise gives women tools they need to initiate, manage and work a trade.

  5. Medical care including dental is offered at affordable prices for village families. Widows and orphans are given special discounts or receive some treatment and vitamins without cost. Women gather in groups to discuss immediate issues, receive lessons in basic hygiene and other immediate issues relating to village life.

  6. Grain is distributed during the “lean time” prior to harvests or times of national crop failure and famine.

  7. Women can bring grain for milling at the ACTS Center and pay a modest fee. This saves lots of time and energy.

  8. Women can buy bread at the ACTS Center. The village had no bakery, which meant no bread was available, prior to the construction of the ACTS bakery.

  9. Makes loans available for women who have completed micro finance training. Despite obstacles, women in Burkina Faso can overcome them and bring lasting change to their lives, their children and their community.

  10. Human rights promotion is built into our program so that women will come to understand mercy and justice. This breaks the cycle of AIDS and poverty in the lives of the most vulnerable people of Burkinabé society. ACTS meets with village leaders to discuss issues relevant to women and their family.  ACTS provides a platform for women to discuss the evils of female genital mutation.

  11. A majority of the poor in Burkina Faso do not have a birth certificate. ACTS, with the approval of the government, fills out the necessary paperwork for village women and children to obtain birth certificates.

  12. A church,Temple Evangélique El Roï, was established to meet the spiritual needs of villagers. A full-time pastor is on staff. Regular worship, prayer and Bible study are available to women. ACTS staff members are well-trained Christian workers. Evangelistic efforts reach those in the community who have not had access to a church. Our work is a witness to the love of God for the poor. It is known by all that those involved in the ACTS work are followers of Christ.

  13. ACTS publishing division provides literature pertinent to women and village life. Pamphlets, training materials, Bible studies, post-literacy educational booklets on areas of interest to women are all published and distributed by ACTS.

ACTS Ministry fosters hope
ACTS ministry was founded by Joanna Ilboudo, a woman unique for her time and country. She founded ACTS as an organization envisioned, planned and implemented by indigenous women.

The effects of poverty are discussed by world leaders as they meet together. As long as the leaders suggest stop-gap solutions and don’t look close enough to see people groups as individuals with rights and dignity, the poor are locked in a cycle of poverty, sickness and ignorance.

ACTS philosophy is that sustainable development cannot be realized until women have access to basic necessities of life and education. ACTS empowers women through training in Biblical truths, literacy, income generation and micro-enterprise, immediate medical care, practical life skill training and promotion of human rights.

Women involved in the ACTS program grow in faith, in confidence and in hope.





ACTS Center in Saonré is dedicated to giving a hand up and not a handout to the forgotten ones of Burkina Faso...widows and orphans.

"Seeking a Way Out" and other videos can be viewed. Click to see a list of films about ACTS and the people we serve....

We would be pleased to hear comments or receive questions from you. Click for contact information... Merci


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