My First World Problem in the Developing World -Lessons from Burkina Faso

I have a first world problem. My flat iron died yesterday. I was counting on that flat iron to keep my hair from looking like a squirrel got it’s way with my head to build a fantastic nest. Like I said, a first world problem.

My shower has been cold since I came to Burkina Faso. However, tonight, I figured out that I just needed to turn on the water heater in my room. Brilliant!

I had to use a hole in the ground for a toilet today and that meant my shoes will never be the same. Bad aim.

These were some of my issues today.

The minor discomforts of cold showers, squirrel styled hair, and bad aim, are pretty harmless in comparison to the life of these mothers I met at the Child Survival Program today. DSC_5432 (1)

We were told many stories of how these mothers came out of hopeless conditions, but  are now generating income through small businesses, and learning to take care of their babies.

Today’s lesson for the mothers was on preventing and treating Diarrhea.  I thought this was a rather timeily topic given we are on a missions trip eating unique foods.

I really enjoyed hearing the stories of the moms. Some were really difficutl to hear, but knowing their stories, and hearing how God is working, is inspiring.

One mother lost her husband during her pregnancy this last year, and her in-laws took everything. Hopeless, she had nothing left and no place to live. The church intervened and got her involved in the Child Survival Program. The mother learned to sew, and today, she is a seamstress generating her own income and supporting her children.

DSC_5433She made all these dresses.


It was exciting to see the progress of this program, especially knowing it’s only been around for one year here in Burkina, but the results are amazing.

The conditions these mothers are living in are indeed rough. It’s hard for me to imagine how these moms survive. Nothing in my clean, safe, rich world of carpets, ovens, dishwashers, flat irons, can help me contextualize what they live through daily. I can’t really say, “Yeah, me too. I wish I could feed my daugther for dinner tonight, but her brother didn’t eat last time, so it’s his turn.” DSC_5492

I can’t really say, “I got Julia (my duaghter) a tire for Christmas. Isn’t that great? She will be so excited!”


I never have had to bury my child in the field next to my house because they died of Malaria, (the number one cause of death in children here in Burkina Faso).DSC_5488

And when my kids were young, I never had to worry about leaving them alone all day without adult supervision because I could afford a babysitter.DSC_5486I don’t have much in common with these moms except for a couple things.

#1 – I love my children with all my heart, and want them to be successful, be healthy and full of the hope of Christ. DSC_5454 (1)

#2.-I need to know I am valuable and loved as a mother and as a woman. DSC_5462
Many of these moms have been used and abused and told they are nothing. At this program, they are learning the value of friendship, work, education, but most importantly, they are learning that God loves them and HE has a purpose for their lives.

I could see the glimpse of hope today in these mothers. My first world problems are gone.

(Granted my hair looks like a squirrel got to it, but hey… I still have hair so I should be thankful right?)

Goodnight from Burkina….


Squirrel hair Patricia

2 Comments on “My First World Problem in the Developing World -Lessons from Burkina Faso

  1. I’m sure you look adorable with your squirrel hair. Great post!

  2. Love you much and I have no doubt that you are rocking the squirrel hair with grace and dignity : )

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