Burkina Faso (MNN) — The World Bank reported on Tuesday that nearly 14 million people in Africa's Sahel region are now facing food shortages. That's one million more people than last summer's Horn of Africa crisis.
Burkina Faso is included in the list of affected countries, but is particularly hard hit as a result of the large number of refugees the nation now hosts from ongoing conflict in Mali.
Food shortages run rampant, and starvation is imminent.
"We are hearing reports that they're preparing for real famine," notes Greg Yoder with Christian World Outreach. The ministry has a women's vocational training program in Burkina Faso. CWO provides schooling, food, healthcare, and training for these women, all of whom come from extremely poor villages.
Thankfully, CWO so far has been able to escape the current crisis, says Yoder. "Our ministry team kind of planned ahead, and fortunately back in December they had bought enough food to finish out the school year with the young ladies that are at our training center."
This temporarily-averted crisis gives CWO the time they need to finish training these women who, at the end of their classes, will be able to make the wages necessary to feed their families.
The new program in Burkina Faso has the equipment now to start training ladies in cosmetology this fall, but for now, the main focus is in tailoring.
"They're learning sewing, crocheting, needle point…. But along with that are some business classes to learn how to run a business so that they can know the skills to save money to buy products to make more clothes," says Yoder.
The women are even taught French and English, trade languages to help them grow their businesses even further.
So far, the program is fresh enough that there has yet to be a graduating class. Already, though, women are being transformed from the inside out.
"They have become Christians, several of them, even though they come from a Muslim village. They've come with an attitude of, ‘We'll come get your training but we don't want to hear about Jesus.' But soon, a few of them have changed their minds," says Yoder. "They have a better attitude toward life."
Currently, CWO is looking to expand their program not only to include cosmetology, but also to include ladies from the capital city, Ouagadougou. To learn more about how you can help in this budding and transformative outreach, click here.