Bonn The former doctor Maria Radloff is the head of the association "Giving Children a Future". Together with the association's board of directors, the Brüser Berger controls the aid operations in Burkina Faso in Africa from the Hardtberg.
The children wrote "Welcome to Burkina Faso, Maria" on the blackboard of their makeshift class in Ouagadougou, the capital of the West African country, and the joy about the visit from Germany is overwhelming. "I am always completely touched," says Maria Radloff. "The people are so friendly and obliging. We always receive a very warm and familiar welcome," she adds. The doctor has just returned home from the country south of the Niger Arc to the Brüser Berg. But in her thoughts she is still with "her" children and helpers on site.
As chairwoman of the Bonn-based association "Giving Children a Future", she manages the various aid missions from the Hardtberg together with the association's board of directors. She has travelled to Africa again and again in the past. "But now I finally have more time for it", she says happily. At the beginning of the year, she retired from everyday practice. "And immediately set off for Africa," she laughs. There the association supports a school, a therapy centre for neurologically ill children and an orphanage.
Lessons for 125 children take place in the roofed courtyard
"If you can read, write and calculate, you also have prospects for the future," the physician knows all too well. "On the outskirts of Ouagadougou, children of destitute parents are taught by idealistic African teachers and students. These children would otherwise not be able to attend school because their parents cannot afford the school fees," she reported after her return. Lessons for the 125 children take place in a makeshift covered courtyard. "Our association was the first to have a roof built so that lessons can be held even when it rains. In addition, we have paid the teacher's salary and the costs for exercise books, pens and books and ensure that the pupils receive a warm meal every day", says Radloff.
In addition, the support of the therapy centre for neurologically ill children is a particular concern of the organisation. "They have to be picked up at home and brought back again, as many of them are dependent on wheelchairs. Without a minibus they would not be taught or treated. We contribute to the monthly petrol and repair costs. The association also plans to set up a therapy room," explains Burkhard Nowotny from the association's board of directors.
Roof renovation is urgent
Another focus is the support of an orphanage in Samendeni. There 23 children live in different round houses. However, they were in a miserable condition. "Especially the roofs," says Radloff. As the rainy season was approaching, a quick solution was needed. Radloff: "We took over the renovation of the roofs and within four weeks all the houses were freshly covered. We finished in time for the big rainy season. Since then, the association has financed the costs for school visits and medical treatment of the orphans.“
Resting on what has been achieved is out of the question for the organisation. "No", says the doctor. "I am always deeply moved when I see this great poverty. And it doesn't get any better." As help for self-help, the association has initiated numerous other projects. With its support, an oven was built in which fresh bread is now baked daily. A vegetable garden has also been planted and a small pharmacy has been established.
Maria Radloff will keep herself informed about this progress in the coming months. "I will definitely travel to Burkina Faso again". Then she will certainly have something very special in her luggage again - like the Lego bricks or the football shoes she had in her suitcase on her last visit. And the children will certainly receive "their" Maria again with a nicely written welcome at the blackboard.
(Original text: Gabriele Immenkeppel; Translation: Mareike Graepel)