A Gateway for the Futureby Luke Gascho
Planning is a gateway for the future. A gateway creates a transition between one space and another, links from one time to another and makes possible interactions among diverse people.
A Pilgrimage of Peace:
A gateway for the future
Alumna shares story of 'crocodile-approved' sustainable development in a children's book set in West Africa
SENEGAL (Mennonite Mission Network) – A crocodile roiling the village women's laundry water elicits shouts – not of fear, but of joy. Aminata, a girl living on the parched Burkina Faso savannah, has never seen such a beast before because crocodiles live in water and, before her village built a dam, there was no water within four miles of Aminata's village. In those days, Aminata was always tired, hot and thirsty because she had to carry water for her family in a basin on her head.
When Aminata returns to her courtyard to hang up the clothes she washed in the dam-pond, she asks her father if the crocodile's appearance means that her village has built a good dam.
"That it does, my child," he replies, "When a crocodile crosses land to live in a new pong, the pond is very strong."
Carol Shenk Bornman '90 of Mennonite Mission Network recently published a brightly colored children's book in which Aminata, a girl living in Burkina Faso savanna, describes how the people of her dusty village worked together to make lifegiving water accessible.
A Crocodile for Aminata emphasizes the importance of networking. Each person contributes to the construction project that will bring positive change for the whole village. New ideas are adapted to the village's specific needs through community discussion. Perseverance, hope and hard work pay off when the rains come and fill the dam the villagers so painstakingly built, thus reducing the women's workload and providing abundant water for drinking and better hygiene.
Though Bornman received the inspiration for her book while working with her husband, Jonathan '90, on a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) water resource development project in Burkina Faso, the principles learned there inform their current ministry in Senegal where they seek to bless their community through a cyber café, an irrigation project and other development activities.
"We fell in love with West Africa while in Burkina Faso, and we learned to always be evaluating what we were doing. Is it sustainable? Is it healthy for the village?" Bornman said. "We continue to ask these questions of our ministry in Senegal."
A Crocodile for Aminata is a composite story of the seven dams the Bornmans helped build while in Burkina Faso from 1991 to 1994. During those years, two crocodiles crossed miles of dry land to live in a dam built by villagers.
"This was a sign of a viable water source, something we worked for to make development sustainable," Bornman said. "Through Aminata's story, I hope to give readers a window into the lives of those who have no water."
Bornman loves to write, but it was the illustrator, Michel Tioye, who provided the impetus for the book. Tioye, a self-taught artist, grew up in Gaoua, Burkina Faso. As a 19-year-old, Tioye came to Bornman looking for work. As the two brainstormed about possibilities, the idea for the story was born.
Bornman kept Tioye's drawings stowed away in an Indiana basement for 10 years waiting for time to write. That time finally came when the Bornman family spent last year on a North American assignment.
"I remembered my promise to Michel," she said. "I wanted the story to match his art that shows village life in the down-to-earth way it really is."
Bornman says that her own three primary-school children love the book. The children anticipated a vacation in Burkina Faso during the summer to revisit friends and the dams their parents helped to build.
The Bornman family works in Senegal with a team sponsored by Friends of the Wolof and Mennonite Mission Network. Their home congregation is LifeSpring Community Church, formerly Communion Fellowship, of Goshen, Ind.
A Crocodile for Aminata can be ordered through Trafford Publishing at www.trafford.com.
Used with permission from Mennonite Mission Network