At the moment Zida and his family were forced to flee their home in Burkina Faso because of life-threatening conflict, they made the heartbreaking decision to leave behind their livestock – a source of income and nourishment for the family. Clothing was the last thing on their mind at that terrifying moment.
Zida exhausted his savings to get his family to safety, more than 50 miles away in Kaya.
In Kaya, Zida and his family stayed with a host family for a while before eventually starting a small business, which has allowed him to rent a house for his family.
Earlier this year, Zida’s family picked out 34 pieces of new clothing as part of USA for UNHCR’s New Clothes, New Beginnings initiative created with a foundational gift in kind of six million units of clothing from Gap Inc. The initiative delivers not only new clothing but hope, confidence and possibility to resilient displaced families.
“The clothes I received for me and my family are very helpful in that it contributes to reducing significantly my expenses,” says Zida. Of the clothing his family received, he tells us the sweaters are the most useful because they keep his children warm during the cold season. “Everyone got a sweater and we are happy and grateful.”
Four million pieces of clothing have been donated to Burkina Faso, a country in the Sahel region of Africa, that is facing one of the fastest growing displacement crises in the world.
Meet two other displaced people living in Kaya, Oumou and Zonabo, who found a bit of hope in selecting new clothing for their families.
Oumou is 10 years old and lives with her family in Kaya, Burkina Faso. She is very happy because she recently received new clothes from Gap Inc., including the nice dress she is wearing in this picture, a sweater, a pair of pants and a shirt.
Before she moved to Kaya last year, Oumou was in school in Ankuna and learning a lot. But she was forced to stop her studies because her father could not afford to pay her school fees. Every day Oumou helps her mother sell the cakes she makes. “My mother is my first hero because she is making a lot to take care of our family,” she says.
Oumou’s dream is to become a teacher so she can educate other people. She hopes to resume school soon.
Zonabo is a 51-year-old widow from Dablo, Burkina Faso. She was forced to flee in January 2020 when armed groups attacked the Catholic Church, killing many people, including the priest, and destroying their crops and property.
Because Zonabo left so suddenly, she was unable to take any of her belongings with her. She cannot return home to Dablo until the situation becomes stable.
She also left behind her small business selling rice. Though she receives support from her parents and relatives, she knows it is not sustainable. “I would like to restart a small business to be able to take care of myself and the kids under my responsibility,” she says.
“Having these clothes will allow me and my family to change our clothes every day throughout this cold season. My grandkids will be protected from diseases caused by the cold season,” says Zonabo. “I am grateful to the UNHCR and its partner for this assistance.”
Your compassion represents a new beginning to those who have recently fled. And for people whose journey is prolonged, new clothing will give them confidence and hope for a brighter future. Most importantly, you can show refugees they are cared for and loved. That’s the wonderful gift you will provide by donating to our New Clothes, New Beginnings initiative.