Dorcas Centre


Elizabeth Oubda, wife of Moise Oubda, set up the Dorcas Centre as a facility to help women in poverty in and around the the city of Bobo-Dioulasso. From small beginnings it has grown to its present size over a number of years and now accommodates and educates up to 160 young women. Acknowledged by the government as being a flagship project it has recently attracted attention from the media as an example of how to help care for orphans and the poor and provide them with high quality education, practically preparing them to set up their own small businesses. The 3 year course teaches the girls to read and write, to sew and weave, how to look after their children through basic health education, and how to set themselves up in business. Short term very low interest loans are available to help to set up small businesses and this money is repaid after 6 months for reinvestment in other start up projects.

With a gift as little as £50 an entire family can be helped out of poverty and into a new and more secure way of life.


Why the “Dorcas Centre”?

Elizabeth decided to start up the project while studying in the United Kingdom. She wanted to provide help to young women who she recognised were particularly vulnerable back in her home city of Bobo-Dioulasso. She read in the Bible about a woman who was engaged in similar work:

“In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor.”

Acts 9:36

and so she decided to name her project after a woman with similar values to her own.

What does the Centre do?

The Centre has been running for many years now and received some initial set-up sponsorship from the government but ongoing development of the project has come largely through charitable gifts from Germany, and the German government in particular as well as the UK and other European nations.

With polygamy a common way of life in the rural communities it is not uncommon for their to be up to 40 children in one family. If you are the 40th child and you are female your father may not even know your name and your prospects in life are not good. Educational opportunites are unlikely to be offered to you and even if you wanted to be educated, family finances would be unlikely to permit it.

The Dorcas Centre has 4 main aims:

  • To teach women, most of whom are from rural communities, a practical skill (how to make clothes, weaving, sewing) which will enable them set up a small business and provide for their family on graduation.
  • To teach them to read and write as well as to gain a grasp of numeracy. (see Education earlier) Women generally have less access to education in Burkinabe society which in turn reduces their employment opportunities.
  • To provide short term loans (without interest) to women to help them set up in business but who have no resources to buy the raw materials. Repayment over a 6 month period enables the money to be reinvested either in the same project, or to “pump prime” other businesses in need of start up capital. Through these small loans the well being of whole families increases without their need to rely on ‘hand-outs’.
  • To model Christian life by example and to demonstrate love practically to those in great need.

Recent violence in Ivory Coast to the South of Burkina Faso has resulted in a significant influx of asylum seekers, many whom are young women orphaned by the violence in their home country. Without personal resources these young women move to the large cities where unemployment is already high and prostitution is often the only means of survival. The Dorcas Centre provides a safe environment for them to recover, a community in which to rebuild their lives, and the means to further their education and employment prospects.

From small beginnings Elizabeth now has a centre that houses, feeds and clothes over 160 young women. The Dorcas Centre relies entirely on charitable support to continue this work.

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