On February 26, it was finally showtime: Opening day for the orphanage in Burkina Faso, Africa. Our small team of eight traveled to the facility 30km outside of Ouagadougou and reflected on our journey to this point over the past three years. In 2020, we set ourselves the task of building an orphanage for 120 children in one of the poorest countries in Africa. We worked tirelessly in our spare time to secure financing and construction. As members of the non-profit organization Hummaid, this day was a dream come true for us.
We were able to lay the foundation for the financing of the project through a crowdfunding campaign in which Zscaler employees worldwide also participated. As part of a 200-hour donation marathon, around 80,000 euros were raised on the crowdfunding platform in 2020, an amount that was doubled by the company. This brought us a big leap closer to the originally planned budget of 200,000 euros for building the orphanage. The missing amount could be raised via the Hummaid network, so that in February 2021 the property for the building could finally be acquired.
Flexibility as a builder
Once the foundation stone was laid, the pandemic broke out, shaking the time and budget of our project plan and requiring some flexibility to adapt to changing conditions. Entry and exit to Burkina Faso was also difficult at that time. In addition, raw material prices had exploded worldwide, which also had an impact on our construction. Many building materials intended for the construction of the orphanage had to be imported. For example, the roof of the orphanage was originally planned as a wooden structure. Due to a lack of sufficiently thick tree trunks on-site, metal, steel, and sheet metal were finally used as alternatives. In addition to COVID-19 and rising commodity prices, two military coups and numerous terrorist attacks in the immediate vicinity of the capital of Burkina Faso caused further delays. After all the challenges mastered around the construction, Hummaid was all the happier to have received the operating permit for the orphanage just in time for the inauguration.
To meet the growing costs, the network and the Zscaler staff were once again called upon. For 17 rooms of the orphanage, we found sponsors among the employees, who took over the financing of the interior design – from the dining hall, school room, and kitchen to bedrooms for the children. Creativity was required, as each sponsor was finally allowed to give their room a name.
The endurance test at the inauguration
With great participation of the population, the finished building was finally presented to the public. At the end of February, a delegation from Hummaid and Zscaler welcomed not only the mayor and representative of the German consulate for the inauguration ceremony, but also the children and families from the surrounding area. In addition to the invited guests, the children came to test the playing equipment in the courtyard all by themselves. In the course of the festivity, more than 600 guests were able to get an impression of the premises and equipment and thus the future operation of the facility.
However, until children can actually move into the orphanage, further hurdles must be overcome. For the operation of the facility, it is first and foremost necessary to find a director that fills the project with life on-site. Influenced by the impression of inauguration day, a member from the Hummaid team has agreed to advance the operating concept with the local authorities on-site over the next three months. It is necessary to fill the position of the directorate, which will then be responsible for the search of personnel in order to build up the day-to-day and school operations.
Accordingly, the directorate will cooperate with institutions in the vicinity, such as hospitals and schools, and decide together with the authorities which children will be admitted to the orphanage. One consideration is to also take in widows with their children, who will not only live there, but are also offered a workplace through childcare. Based on the concept children from the age of four can be admitted and cared for in the foreseeable future.
Sponsorships for running costs
The running costs for the orphanage operation with 120 children are estimated at 100,000 euros annually. It is planned to cover these expenses through partnerships for the children. For this reason, Hummaid has already purchased software with which future godparents and godchildren can be networked. Interested parties can preregister under the following email address to receive further information, when partnership program goes live.
By building the orphanage, the Hummaid team has proven how dreams can be turned into reality. The shining eyes of the children, who were already guests at the inauguration of the building, prove the organizers right. They have confirmed once again how helping others makes each of us a different person.