This is the final post in a multi-part series.
Frédéric Colas, his wife and daughter have just finished traveling the globe (they started July 2011), raising money to build a school for Burkina Faso, Africa’s Cissé Yargo village. Every time a Facebook friend or “real time” friend hosted the family, the Colases donated $100 to their “We Like the World” project (when they stayed at a Four Seasons, the Colases donated $250 per night to the project). In addition, for each person who friended the project on Facebook, the family donated $1. The journey just ended in Burkina Faso (June 2012).
Are social networks powerful agents of change? Enough to allow us travel around the world, hosted only by friends or a friend of a friend? Yes! That’s what we found in our epic, nearly yearlong globetrotting adventure. After 11 months, our family has been hosted 209 nights (65 percent of the total) by generous families. We’ve gathered 6,600 Facebook fans and raised 65,000 Euros (U.S. $ 81,000) to build a school in West Africa. We definitely won our wager!
And so this month, it was time for the trip’s Grand Finale: the inauguration of the “We Like The World” school in Burkina Faso, Africa. On the plane en route to Ouagadougou, the country’s capital, we wondered: was it really possible that this final moment could be even more magical than all those we experienced during our year exploring the world?
We were among the first people to see the carved back of newly excavated Moais (statues) in Easter Island; bumped into “The Hobbit” crew filming in New Zealand; talked to my youth idol Midnight Oil’s former lead singer Peter Garrett in Australia. We improvised a ballet performance in a tiny shoe shop in Vietnam; cuddled baby and grown-up tigers in Thailand. We savored wonderfully relaxing times in the incredible Four Seasons Resorts of Bora Bora, Tahiti and Thailand’s Koh Samui; planted and cooked rice with pros at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Thailand. We attended an historic election day in Burma; spent a week learning meditation and healing techniques in Indian Rishikesh; drove the world’s highest road in Himalayan Ladakh. We were hosted by 52 fantastic families who became our friends… it’s hard not to be a bit blasé!
On June 9, 2012, at 9 am, when the new Cissé Yargo’s school appeared on the horizon of this flat, dry, hot, red land, we discovered what was impossible to imagine: that a simple, rectangular, four-room building would move us more than any world marvel we had seen before. The reason? The hundreds of joyful kids waiting for their brand-new school to be officially opened—offering the opportunity of a better future.
The villagers had organized things really well; it was a fantastic celebration. The traditional village chief, the mayor and many officials made their speeches in French and Moré. We made one, too. The men and women of the two villages and the schoolgirls had prepared lively dances and gifts. We were very happy to be offered traditional clothes, as we would have been at a bit of a loss with the live goat and chickens he got!
Héloïse and the mayor cut the ribbon, the school director led us in and everyone congratulated each other. Then came the best moment: spending time with the kids. They all played together with Héloïse while we snapped pictures, pleading with them to give us a smile (their parents teach them not to, saying it “distorts their faces”).
When the party was over, we suddenly felt the 50° C (120° F) heat of the midday sun. We took refuge in the shade, realizing how important it is to help kids learn under the best conditions. One thing stood out: in this very poor region, many young students don’t eat lunch. They only get one meal a day and have a hard time learning at school because they are hungry—and tired.
Now back in Paris, we have decided to develop a lunch program for the new Cissé Yargo school. It is critical to offer meals with stomach-filling staples such as millet, beans and rice. And what’s more, we will create a comprehensive program with a school kitchen garden. That will allow us to educate kids about the production process of vegetables and grains.
If you want to support this project, you can make a donation. Every little bit helps: 3 Euros (U.S. $4) is enough to feed one kid for one month.
Also, we think that it would be absolutely wonderful for another family to experience what we did this past year and fundraise for the school. Do you and your family want to take over and “Like the World” next? Contact us via our Facebook page and “share” this opportunity with your friends—both Facebook and real-world and friends. Trust me. If you do, it will indeed be the best time of your lives!
This is the end of our story. But we sincerely hope it will not be the end of the amazing, inspiring “We Like The World” story. Help us keep the dream alive!
This is the final post in a multi-part series.
A French native, Frédéric Colas has travelled to 50-plus countries on five continents. Fred created the Digital Marketing Department for Procter & Gamble in 1996 and in 1999 was named one of 12 Global Media Mavens by Advertising Age. In 2000, Fred co-founded Fullsix, a Europe-based leading digital marketing group. An art lover and advertising exec since 1991, Estelle worked for most of her career for the Havas Group. She is currently Global Brand Director at BETC Euro RSCG in Paris. She wants to make a difference in her life, for her family and for others. The couple lives in Paris with their eight-year-old daughter Héloïse.
View all posts from Frédéric
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