Our story begins with a journey.
In 1987 Katrin Rohde got to know a group of Burkinabé in Plön, her hometown in Northern Germany, and through them she set off for Burkina Faso for the first time. Travelling alone throughout the country she became very ill and was taken in by a customs officer and his family who nursed her back to health. By way of thanks she promised to raise money in Germany to build a school.
Having raised the money she returned to Burkina Faso a second time to organise and supervise the building of the school. On ons hand she was fascinated by the country and its people, but on the other hand she was shocked by the prevailing poverty espacially affecting children and young people. She then came back to Germany.
Encouraged by her success in building the school, she continued with lecture tours to collect money for further projects. In early 1995 she sold her belongings including her bookshop and used the capital to set up her own project. Back in Ouagadougou she rented a small typically African house.
Starting with a rubbish dump
Her focus was on streetkids and the plan was to build a home for them. Driving around in the Ford Transit she brought with her from Germany, she targeted the places she thought the kids might hang out and tried to slowly gain their trust. She provided them with medicine and one hot meal a week. She tried to gradually place some of them with families, offering the families financial support. There were frequent problems with the families and this was obviously not the ideal solution for anyone concerned, so she simply decided to put the streetkids up in her own house. This lasted for about 2 years until eventually there were 18 youngsters living together in a 3-roomed house.
The orphanages today
The AMPO Orphanage for Boys opened on 3rd March 1996 as the first facility set up by Katrin Rohde on the site of a former rubbish dump. The property situated in Sector 29 of Ouagadougou previously counted as part of the capital's suburbs. The city has meanwhile expanded on account of rural exodus, so that these are no longer suburbs, since the urban population has doubled in the past 10 years. The AMPO Orphanage for Girls opened only a few years later.
A stirring biography
Katrin Rohde shares her impressions and experiences in her book Mama Tenga, My African Life. She gives a graphic report of how she began to take care of street children leading pitiful lives marked by hunger, drugs and crime in the capital city of Ouagadougou. Over the years has set up a number of facilities for children and teenagers: orphanages, workshops and training facilities for street kids, counselling centres for young women and girls, a clinic, and much, much more - always in accordance with the principle "helping people to help themselves".