Can Togo Gabon?

wsu-mark-wentling-with-children-in-burkina-faso-2014After two years as a PCV in Honduras, Mark went to Africa in 1970 as a Peace Corps Volunteer, working in the southern Ewe district of Agu, near Gha. Next he was hired as an APCD for rural development. He left Togo in early 1975 to serve as the Peace Corps CD in Gabon and, briefly, in the Central African Republic. In 1976, he was transferred by the Peace Corps to Niger, and in 1977, started a long career with USAID in Niger, then onto Guinea, Togo, Benin, Angola, Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Madagascar and South Africa. He worked as the USAID Mission Director in six of these countries. After USAID, his work with NGOs took him to Niger, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Congo and Angola. Work and travel has allowed him to visit all 53 African countries. For the past four years, he has been living and working in Burkina Faso, and on June 9, 1915, he will end a 45-year connection with Africa and moves to Lubbock, Texas to assist Breedlove Foods, Inc., and feed hungry people everywhere.

This is Mark’s moving farewell address to his staff in Burkina Faso.

My Dream for Africa

I dream of an Africa where:

Every girl is educated, and all mothers are helped during the first thousand days of their babies’ lives, starting at conception, to ensure all children have a healthy start in life. All babies born are not in the low birth-weight range, and all mothers are old enough to marry and bear children. Every woman has access to modern birth control methods in order to lower high fertility rates and achieve a national demographic transition. The fast population growth rate in a number of countries is slowed so that it does not outstrip all assistance efforts and result in high population densities that exceed the carrying capacity of available land.

Every child has a good head start in life, including a birth certificate and the opportunity to go to pre-school. Public schooling is of high quality and free. There are no longer any stunted, permanently-limited children because of poor nutrition. Health care for mothers and children is free. The battle against all negative traditional practices is won.

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