Reaching over 5000 kids with educational materials in the heart of Burkina Faso is no easy challenge, but that’s exactly what Sarama Resources and Skye Gilligan Consulting set out to do.
Perth based and TSX listed Sarama Resources has been an active gold explorer and mine developer in West Africa since 2010. A company with consistently strong values in regards to community engagement and capacity building, Sarama’s rapport within the communities in which they operate has not only been critical to the success of their projects, but more recently to the improvement of education facilities and schooling in the remote areas of Burkina Faso where the company operates.
In 2014, Sarama saw an opportunity to join efforts with Skye Gilligan who had established a charity focused on improving learning opportunities in Africa. Skye, a communications consultant to the mining industry, had packed a 20 ft sea container with educational and sporting equipment for distribution to poverty stricken communities in Africa. All she needed was a partner with a local presence and the capacity to undertake an effective distribution strategy.
“One challenge we recognised in undertaking our community development work was that while classrooms and general infrastructure were a much needed asset, it was more often than not the absence of learning or administration materials like paper and pens that continued to hinder the development of basic social skills such as reading and writing,” commented Andrew Dinning – Sarama’s CEO and President.
The formation of this public private partnership was transformational in terms of what many miners battle to do alone. For the small investment required to ship the sea container and negotiate customs and transport, Sarama received more than 100k worth of equipment which Skye had gathered through her professional and personal networks. In the perfect position to build on existing social projects in the Norkama district including the construction of new classrooms, provision of desks and chairs, and the implementation of a food program at Norkama Primary School, Sarama’s on-ground team defined a detailed distribution plan – reaching 26 schools including 3,147 primary students, 1,914 senior students, and more than 100 senior students studying outside of Norkama Village. In addition, administration materials and equipment was also given to four CSPS Health Centres and various local Administration Centres.
“Having a client like Sarama to give my donations to completely exceeded my expectations. With a career that has taken me to Malawi and Mozambique I was fully aware of the barriers to education in Africa, and also the difficulties in operating there as a miner or explorer. It was important to me to find a sponsor company who shared my passion for creating opportunities for social development and change. From the moment I arrived at the Norkama Exploration Camp, it was immediately apparent that Sarama was held in high regard by their local employees and the Norkama community. This was the only reason we were able to achieve such a great reach into the remote populations of Burkina Faso,” explained Skye Gilligan.
“This project has made me extremely proud of what Australian mining and mining services companies are delivering in Africa on a daily basis. Seeing the difference Sarama has made within their areas of operation, not just through financial investment, but through the sharing of skills, culture and knowledge has only solidified my belief that mining companies are often one of the only organisations in a position to drive sustainable economic development and offer hope for employment and social advancement in communities where there is no industry or infrastructure,” concluded Gilligan. “I would also like to recognise and mention my other corporate sponsors who have made this project possible – Tony Berson of Airland Logistics, Sergio Teixeria of Cristal JBE Office Choice and Acacia Mining.
In the last three years, Sarama’s investments have contributed to a 50% increase in student numbers and a notable 60% increase in females at Norkama Primary, which in 2016 became an official Government exam centre. Watch the handover ceremony video between the Principal of Norkarma Primary, Sarama Resources and Skye Gilligan for the full impact of their work or read more on Sarama’s website.
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