Frontiers of Justice, Travelogue

Death and Life in Burkina Faso

On the fourth day of the Frontiers of Justice visit, the group visited the Recuperation and Nutritional Education Center that assisted malnourished children and their mothers. This entry was written by Neal Deles.

CRS provides food to this center to enable mothers to improve the health of their babies. Out of over 400 babies who come to the center, they would lose 6 babies. On the day of our visit, a young mother was wailing as she had just lost her baby the night before. She had apparently come to the center too late and by the time they arrived her baby was severely malnourished and eventually died.

Jodi Dean wrote this prayer after a visit to the center:

A Prayer for our Wailing Woman


Soil of brokenness.

Red earth marks the separation between the fight to live

and the death we breathe.


Awareness caged.

Knowledge imprisoned.

Keys robbed.


Tears of solidarity.

Blood of womanhood, 

A rapid flow,

a whirlwind dance to pierce the heart.


A flower blooms.

Soft hope.

Despair overpowered by its sweetness.

A fragrance of justice in the red earth.


It was tough to walk around the center and to see the smiling babies while this mother grieved the loss of her child. While on one hand the center has saved so many babies throughout the years, we also witnessed the reality that malnourishment continues to be an issue in Burkina Faso.Another death closed our visit to Burkina Faso. The evening of our arrival, an old woman had died, at the Delwende Center for old women, who had been shunned from their villages after being accused of witchcraft. She had been given a refuge at the center and a community to mourn her death. There were no wailing women but there was comfort in knowing that she dies in the company of women who had since become her family. On this visit, we could not comfort this grieving mother.

In three days we had witnessed life and death in Burkina Faso. We also witnessed the tremendous impact of the work of CRS in partnership with the local Catholic Church to serve the women and girls who had been pushed to the margins. We saw firsthand the power of food and education in helping people to continue to live in dignity; we witnessed the hope in eyes of the school children who now have a school in their village; we saw babies nursed back to health and faced the stark reality that not everyone can be saved; and in the case of the woman at Delwende, we saw what it meant to grow old and to die with dignity.

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One Response to “Death and Life in Burkina Faso”

  1. MamaJudy Says:

    Please know across the oceans tears and prayers are shared, our hearts are touched, and our lives are changed…

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