Burkina Faso: Katrin Rohde

What is good is never in vain. All thoughtful women working under extreme conditions will confirm this thanks to their daily encouraging experiences. Indeed, what is good is never in vain.

— Katrin Rohde

Born 1948 in Hamburg, Germany, Katrin Rohde is recognized in the “country of the upright men” (Burkina Faso) for the foundation of an orphanage for boys in 1996, for girls in 1998, for a home for streetboys and for the foundation of an infirmary for people in need in 1997, for establishing a home for young HIV-infected mothers in 2002, and for producing short-films on the subject of unwed teenage mothers and trafficking of children.

Katrin Rohde did her primary studies and an apprenticeship as a librarian in Hamburg. In 1972, she started a bookstore, in 1982, a second one. Between 1988 and 1999, she constructed three public schools in Burkina Faso. In 1994, she decided to settle in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, to put into action what she had learned: What is good is never in vain! She sold her bookshop, car, and motorcycles – everything she had – and went off, all alone, to live with eight streetboys in Ouagadougou. After one year, she built her first orphanage and took in 50 boys, then 50 girls. Katrin Rohde, who has a passion to work for others, created a public infirmary that cares for about 150 patients a day, giving medicine away for free to beggars and widows with many children, paying for operations and amputations. She distributes wheelchairs – that are made in the streetboys' welding shop – to the handicapped. She houses 35 streetboys and 20 teenage mothers with their 13 babies, most of them with HIV. All "her" children go to school; again, she pays the school fees for about 500 children out of her projects. In addition to this, she makes educational films on family planning, combatting HIV/AIDS, dealing with abandoned children, and the phenomenon of street children. These films are shown on national TV. Last year, Katrin Rohde also began to organize a mobile cinema that educates and creates awareness on behaviour in the face of HIV/AIDS and ways of using contraceptives. This cinemobile visits villages "way out in the bush." Right now, she is opening a new school for farming and agriculture for 100 boys, a social project that keeps young men from living on the streets. Katrin Rohde has also written a book in German and Dutch on her experiences. All her projects are funded by personal donations and private funding. Katrin Rohde never loses confidence in her children.

Managré Nooma (What is good is never in vain)