When it comes to bettering women’s lives in West Africa, The BO Foundation is on it. The NGO, headquartered in Burkina Faso with a presence in five West African countries and US satellite offices, is seeking to eradicate poverty, and create social justice platforms and equitable wealth distribution for all. We sat down with Latisha Robb, Madame Director General at The BO Foundation talk through its initiatives for 2022 and beyond, and how it’s improving Black maternal healthcare one woman at a time.
Can you tell us about the BO Foundation and the inspiration behind the launch of this nonprofit?
The BO Foundation is an NGO headquartered in Burkina Faso with a presence in 5 West African countries and a U.S. satellite office based in Nebraska and Ohio. We’ve been around since 2010, living by our slogan “Serving the People.” We believe that all men and women have the right to a good quality of life. We defend the principles of poverty eradication, social justice and equitable wealth distribution. That’s how our initiatives are generally launched.
Can you briefly walk us through some of your core initiatives?
We are excited about many initiatives right now. Good Burkina is our key health initiative where we’re focusing on addressing specific health disparities in Burkina Faso such as quality care, access to quality care and needed supplies.
We’ve partnered with the three major health centers in Burkina Faso The Koubri Village Clinic, Tengandogo hospital, and Bassayam Village Clinic.
Can you give us some examples of work you’re doing on the ground through The Bo Foundation?
Through Good Burkina and our U.S. satellite and partners, a 40ft shipping container of medical supplies and equipment is headed our way. It costs $15k to get this shipment to us each time. We’ve committed to raising the initial $7,000 every time. These medical supplies are much-needed and valued between $350k – $500k, these supplies will help this nation.
Our next shipment will be dedicated to holistic maternal care and the certification of midwives and doulas. The infant mortality rate in Burkina Faso has crossed the benchmark of one death per 10,000 children per day for displaced populations, which is the primary demographic we serve.
I’m a proponent of this specific maternity care because I experienced the positive and quick healing benefits of this with my second daughter. I almost died having my first daughter in the hospital because the doctors and nurses ignored my pleas for help. Disparities in Black maternal care is a global issue.
What are the challenges these women face specifically? What makes the Bo Foundation’s work most meaningful in this area of the world?
Many women are not educated about proper feminine hygiene and reproductive care. That is compounded with the day-to-day challenges displaced families face from food, shelter, clean water and emergency medical care and money. Yet women are the cornerstone to survival and innovation. At the moment, the BO Foundation is woman-led and I’m supported 100% by the Founder. My passion is to help my fellow sisters, I understand them, I’ve been them and I’m here to help them overcome and thrive.
Many women are not educated about proper feminine hygiene and reproductive care.
What are the challenges associated with your work?
The language barrier is the biggest challenge associated with my work and understanding of western ideas, but the team I am working with are adapting to my way of thinking. I’m excited to build on the progress we began this year.
Another major challenge I’m facing is getting real support from global institutions, businesses and organizations that truly believe in our initiatives and truly have a passion for giving.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments to date?
In April, we launched an initiative called, “My Sisters Keeper”, a mentoring program that teaches young ladies ages 13 – 25 health and beauty ‘secrets’ from head-to-toe including reproductive health and menstrual awareness. We traveled throughout Burkina Faso visiting schools and to date, have mentored over 700 young ladies.
We also launched the “Beautiful Burkina” initiative during “Earth Month” which is also in April to address the blight in major cities. Our biggest cleanup happened in the city of Kaya where over 700 volunteers, mainly women, showed up! It was incredible.
I’m also proud of the partnership we established with One Africa Biomedical Services (OABS)Securing $250,000 worth of medical equipment for the country, the first shipment is officially headed our way this week from the U.S.
What initiatives or work do you have yet to do that you’d like to do moving into the future?
I would like to expand Good Burkina to have an entire container of gently used clothes and shoes donated from America with designated pick-up locations in every state and having the technology and logistics in place to seamlessly get it all shipped at one time.