Oumarou (pronounced “Ooh-ma-roo) is one of the first faces you will see if you arrive at the student hostel on Sunday morning. He is one of two or three students waiting at the door to greet people as they arrive for the Sunday service. He is a natural greeter with a friendly, open face and a ready smile. He is a regular at all of the events at the residence, not just Sunday worship.
I only recently learned more about Oumarou. After he graduated from high school with his BAC, he was not sure he could go to university. The university is located far from his home and he does not have relatives with whom he could stay. Therefore, he would be required to find lodgings and pay rent. The students are given a modest assistance from the state (to the tune of $300.00 a year), but it often takes a few months for the money to be distributed. The students are on their own in the meantime. Renters in the capital, Ouagadougou, often have to pay two or three months’ rent as an advance before moving into their lodgings. Oumarou comes from a farming family where spare cash is a scarce commodity. His family would not be able to help him pay his rent. This fact alone could have prevented him from pursuing his studies.
Oumarou has an older friend from the same village who lived at the Mennonite student residence. This friend told Oumarou about the hostel and Oumarou asked if there would be room for him. There was a bed available and Oumarou moved in. Thanks to the student hostel, he is able to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor while also growing stronger in his Christian faith.