Over the years some Jesuits took the initiative to respond to urgent needs they saw around them by founding programmes or organisations. Jesuit provinces have incorporated some, while others remain autonomous but retain close ties with the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). In Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, there are two such associations co-founded by Jesuits specifically for destitute people with HIV and orphans. These associations focus on helping people to meet their urgent material needs, offering companionship and, where possible, subsidising education expenses.
Association Solidarité Vie et Santé
The Association Solidarité Vie et Santé (ASVS – Association of Solidarity, Life and Health) completed the construction of a new welcome centre in Tanghin neighbourhood of Ouagadougou in March 2011 and started to offer services from there soon afterwards. The new centre includes a clinic.
The ASVS reaches out to more than 160 people with HIV and orphans, offering medical, psychosocial, nutritional and material aid, as well as educational support for the orphans. The people with HIV meet for weekly support group meetings and look out for each other. Some are part of a micro-credit programme. The ASVS also continues to work on another of its objectives: HIV prevention through raising awareness.
The ASVS suffered a tragic setback in late 2011 with the untimely death of its chairperson Gertrude Diarra, who was a co-founder of the ASVS, together with Fr Jean-Luc Masson SJ (1937-2008). However, heartened by the support of its members and its partners, the ASVS determined to continue offering a service marked by professional quality and close personal relationship – the very characteristics that Gertrude emphasised. The local Jesuits are among those who continue to offer their close support. Ibrahim Zougmore, a nurse who worked closely with Gertrude, is now leading the ASVS.
Association Bénévoles de l’Espérance
The Association Bénévoles de l’Espérance (ABE – Volunteer Hope Association) offers daily support to destitute people with HIV and their families. The team visits the families and provides educational support for the children to go to school.
Every morning, the supervisor at the ABE community centre welcomes people who come for help, counselling them and giving modest assistance like food.
Meanwhile, steps are being taken toward the long-term goal of the ABE to build an ART adherence centre. The aim is to help HIV-positive people to understand, accept and follow their treatment. In 2011, the foundations were laid and a 600-metre wall was constructed around land acquired for this purpose, on the outskirts of Ouagadougou.
Fr Augustin Goytisolo SJ, one of the founders of the ABE, remains deeply involved in the running of the centre.