By Fabe Traore
Burkina Faso—Souleymane Traore was in great difficulty. He had a wife and three daughters to support, but he was seriously ill, and he was living in the capital city of Ouagadougou, the most expensive place in Burkina Faso.
He decided to return to his home village, Samogohiri, where most of his larger family resides and where he thought his immediate family would be taken care of while he continued to fight his illness. When they arrived, they joined the local Mennonite church.
The story continues in Souleymane’s words:
Because of my illness I couldn’t work and I was obliged to depend on my larger family. My wife and daughters worked with them on the farm. Our sole benefit was that we all received meals from the family.
The worst part was that my wife and my children were often obliged to go to the field with others and not to the church on Sunday, because we depended on this shared work. I have lived painful moments with this dependency, but the Lord in his sovereignty has given me a way out.
While I was still experiencing this difficult situation, the Evangelical Mennonite Church [of Burkina Faso] initiated the system of micro loans in 2013. I was interested, and decided to borrow 150,000 cfa francs ($300). Wondering what to do with the loan, I swung between the grains trade and hardware. The Lord eventually convinced me to try selling hardware.
When I received the loan, I entrusted myself to fellow church member brother Bala Sourabié, from whom I purchased a few items, including paint. I made a small table to showcase my goods. Given my inexperience and the winter season, I was not able to repay the entire amount that first year, and I explained that to the Loans Monitoring Committee. The following year I took my courage in both hands and God helped me to repay it with double interest.
I’ve learned from this initial failure. With the rest of the items and with the support of Bala, I’ve climbed back up the hill. After beginning with the small table, I ended up building a small house in which I placed shelves. Currently I am considering building another house because the one I have is too small to contain my merchandise. In addition, the 2016 round of microloans gave me additional purchasing power and reinforced my need for more space.
From the larger family compound in which we had been living, I also moved with my family into the courtyard of the church. I have rediscovered my physical, moral, and spiritual health. I found health at all these levels because all the persecution I endured because of my faith is no longer happening.
The microloans program of the Evangelical Mennonite Church was beneficial for me and my family. We are able to meet our needs, including daily bread, schooling for children, clothing, and health. We can give thanks to the Lord, and also say thanks to the initiators and managers of the microloans program, which is a real growth producer for the Evangelical Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso.
Note: the EMC’s Project Builders contributed to the microloans project. The testimony has been shortened and edited.