Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Big Little Caravan hits Burkina Faso with Effusive JOY!

“I alone cannot change the world, 
but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” 
Mother Teresa

Many ripples of light, happiness, joy and child spirit cascaded through the rural regions of Burkina Faso this fall. Many people ask "Burkina what ?" not knowing much about this small French speaking country. Burkina Faso is geographically landlocked in by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Ivory Coast to the southwest. The country’s name means "the land of upright people the native language of Moore and Dioula, and this was certainly the case during our tour, with the citizens of this warm hearted country.

Sponsored and hosted by the SEMAFO Foundation, headed by the indestructible Chantal Guerin, The Big Little Caravan of Joy visited 5 rural communities including: Fofina- Bissa, Dangouna, Wona A, Wona B and Somana, providing the village children with an arts-based program that reached over 1,000 very happy kids, from September 13 - October 8, 2013.
With 15 team African regional team members consisting of artists that ranged from 4 grandmothers, 3 youth, 8 adults and 3 Canadian artists, Team Joy Burkina Faso stood 18 strong with a sense of playful purpose designed specifically for the sweet children in these regions.

Our team roster composed of: Bailey Davis, Damarise Ste. Marie, Sarina Condello, Vincent Millogo, Dao Lassina, Taro Ibrahim, Dao Madou, Dao Amada, Doa Arouna, Dao Moussa, Konate Djeneba, Dao Harouna, Dao Hamidou, Dao Yacouba, Konate Sema, Unosa, Oumou, Bintou and Ramatou.

The adventure began with a few gatherings to meet the head masters, elders and artists of these regions, which then culminated with workshop entitled: The Empowered Burkina Faos Child. Over 30 artists and educators attended.

With 500 costumes in tow, a massive parachute, art supplies for 1,000 peanuts and a few sets of magical drums, our Big Little Team Joy traveled daily to and from the chosen communities down dusty roads whilst all team members piled up with the supplies in the back of a pick up truck.

At the end of our tour all supplies, costumes and play equipment were donated to the Wona B so that they joy and creativity for the children could continue after we left.
Here are some great shots of our process and some of our final shows as well!

In total over 1,000 people came out during the month to watch our shows! 
Each show concluded with a merengue party mixed with some traditional dancing and cake. 
A highlight of our time held together in Burkina Faso, were the two parties hosted by the Big Little Caravan of Joy; one party was for the cleaning staff at our base camp and  the other one was for the Team Joy's staff where each and every member received a fabulous loot bag filled with goodies that were donated from friends in Canada!

This year our most generous and kindhearted sponsors included:

Thank you to Pierre Vaillancourt for creating this possibility!!

The Bedford Park Players
 The Summerhill Players
SEMAFO Foundation
The Kevin Sullivan and Family Foundation
Kristi Herold
Way Off Broadway’s Wizard of Oz
Beverley Shukyn
Sarah Ferris
Vivian Saffer
Trudy White
Randi Kirshenbaum
Ruth Condello
Gail Leger
Antonio DeGregorio
Master Reza Ghasry
...and many more generous individuals who donated, ran lemonade stands, wrote cheques and contributed financial offerings in our donation buckets at our shows--I thank you on behalf of the Team Joy Burkina Faso and the innocent children who partook in the celebration of playful joy!

The Little Big Tour of The Big Little Caravan of Joy of 2013-14

Next year’s tour will be the biggest to date. The vision is to visit all the countries that the Caravan of Joy has visited which includes: The First Nations Reserves of Northern Ontario, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and then to sprinkle some light in Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi and Ethiopia! The tour will last for 14 months and will reach close to 10,000 children. Fundraising for this unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime tour will begin January of 2013. The tour will kick off July of 2013 as the Caravan will once again journey into the remote regions of our Canadian North and continue to the heart of Africa. 

Sarina Condello

“Do not follow where the path may lead. 
Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” 
 Ralph Waldo Emerson

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