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Great Barrington Finds a New Sister in West Africa

Great Barrington is now a sister-city with a community in West Africa. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard has more…

Great Barrington has become twins with Fada N’Gourma, a city of similar size in Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso is a landlocked country about the size of Colorado in Western Africa.

The twinning comes from the work of the BARKA Foundation, which formed  the Berkshires in 2006. The foundation first began working to help Tantiaka, a village near Fada, meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. Those goals include establishing clean water, developing sustainable agriculture, self-governance, and women’s empowerment. Co-founder of BARKA Esu Anahata the work with Tantiaka began in 2008.

Co-founder Ina Anahata says that she and her partner Esu hope that through the Sister-City program, and their work as a foundation, that they hope to raise awareness for the challenges facing the people of Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso has a population of around 15 million. The country is ranked 181 of 187 countries on the Human Development Index, and the highest illiteracy rate in the world.

The Great Barrington Selectboard passed a resolution adopting the sister-city partnership with Fada earlier this year. Town Manager Kevin O’Donnell says that a committee will be established to develop the ways the two distant towns will work together.

Esu Anahata says once relationship was approved by Great Barrington, he returned to the West African country.

The launch date for the partnership was set for today to coincide with the International Day of Peace, which takes place this Friday, September 21st. BARKA also worked with Michael Johnson, of Monterey, the United Nations Representative for Pathways to Peace, and the Burkina Faso Embassy to the United States.


Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.