Action Sociale de Koudougo (ASK) brings together disability organisations from across northern Burkina Faso to advocate for change, and provide the services that are so often lacking in rural Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries on the planet. Despite that fact that an estimated 10% of the population live with a disability, many are unable to access the services they need to live a full life. Where services are available, widespread stigma and discrimination means that many people with disabilities live their lives at the margins of society.

Since 2015, we’ve worked with ASK to boost its ability to challenge disability stigma. Our volunteers work with ASK to establish new networks of disability organisations, and secure more funding so that ASK can reach more people. Our volunteers help train ASK’s wheelchair basketball team, and organise matches across the district. And they visit schools and communities to promote one key message: that disability is not inability.

For women like Victorine Guissou, this message is still necessary. Victorine has been passionate about hairdressing since she was a child. After completing her training, she opened her own salon in Koudougou.

Victorine, who uses crutches to get around, explains, “sometimes, women don’t want to come into my salon because they’re afraid of me because of my disability. There is still a lot of stigma, and lot of people who don’t think through the way their actions impact us.”

When she’s not at her salon, Victorine is heavily involved with ASK’s work, including as a member of ASK’s wheelchair basketball team. For Victorine, wheelchair basket is more than a hobby: it’s a way of fighting stigma. “I play handibasket not just because I enjoy it, but because I want to change people’s opinions on disability. I want to show that people with disabilities can participate in sports too.”  

Since moving to Koudougou five years ago, Victorine has become a key member of ASK. As well as coaching the wheelchair basketball team, she’s a cast member in the ASK theatre troupe, which visits local schools and community groups to put on plays that challenge common misconceptions.

“These sessions give me a chance to make a difference – when I speak about disability, I speak with authority because I live with my disability, and the stigma that comes with it, every day. That’s why I’m so proud of the work I do with ASK.”

We partner with organisations like ASK so that we can put people like Victorine at the heart of change. By working directly with communities, we can ensure that attitudes continue to change. 

Find out more about how we use disability sports to create change.

(Photo credit: Marie Batbie)