It all started with the improbable encounters we told you about here that led to friendships and effective collaboration. In November 1999, Nelly Fries and Nicolas Crettenand, founding members of the future Swiss Guinkouma Association, met Bruno Bambara, founder and director of the Guinkouma primary school in Burkina Faso. Bruno Bambara came to Geneva for the Children's Forum on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. He had come as the accompanying person for one of his first students invited to the Forum. There, he met Nicolas Crettenand, one of the accompanying persons of the Swiss children's delegation. A friendship was formed and Bruno Bambara asked Nicolas to help him drill a borehole for his school and the surrounding population.
On the return flight, Bruno Bambara met Nelly Fries who was on her way to Burkina Faso to set up a library. They meet again on the spot and initiate a 2nd Swiss-Burkinabe friendship.
These 2 Swiss friends helped Bruno Bambara in 2000 and 2001 to acquire land for the construction of the secondary school and to carry out the requested drilling. Nelly Fries and Nicolas Crettenand travelled several times to Burkina Faso in the following years to support Bruno in his projects. In 2002, the Swiss Association "Guinkouma" was created with the aim of promoting development, particularly in the field of education in Africa, in order to support the Guinkouma school in Burkina Faso. From the beginning, one of our objectives was never to cover operating costs and create long-term financial dependencies, but to participate in the construction and financing of infrastructure such as classrooms, water access, latrines, infirmary, library, energy, etc.
After 16 years of involvement in Burkina Faso with the Guinkouma School Group, which has more than 2,300 students, we have embarked on a digital school project in Zimbabwe. Technology now offers new possibilities to overcome the lack of local schools and teachers. It allows for a more personalized and therefore better quality education while being very affordable. Our project in Zimbabwe also started on the basis of friendships, in this case between Nicolas Crettenand and the team in Zimbabwe in 2018.
In addition to these two major projects, our Association has contributed to two other achievements: A project to reduce the unemployment rate among young people and to strengthen the level of training of young people in agriculture in the Maroantsetra district of Madagascar, initiated in 2010 and for which our Association provided initial funding. We followed the project for 4 years. At the source was a friendship between Nicolas Crettenand and the local initiator, Claudel Mbotivelo.
The 2nd achievement is the creation of a Farm School for training in agro-ecology, in the Commune of Loumbila, Province of Oubritenga in Burkina Faso for which our Association provided the initial funding in 2017. It is again a friendship between Nelly Fries and Evariste Zongo who is the source of this action. For these 2 achievements our Association has acted as a catalyst to allow the start of these projects in the field of education.
The Guinkouma Association is directed and managed by its Committee, which works on a voluntary basis.
President and founding member
Founding member and editorials
Since the beginning of the adventure, we have been sending our newsletter in German and French several times a year to interested people. You can subscribe here.