Who we are

ROAD logo

Rescuing Our African Daughters (ROAD) is a charity providing support, education and security for teenage girls in one of the poorest regions in the world, Burkina Faso, West Africa. More specifically ROAD assists teenage girls who are fleeing their homes in an attempt to avoid forced polygamous marriages.  

ROAD has been and continues to be a leading force in making real change possible for teenage girls who are challenged with:

  • forced polygamous marriages 

  • inequality or denial of basic human rights due to their gender 

  • poverty 

  • violence in the form of sexual, mental, physical abuse and in many cases genital mutilation 

  • denial of education or lack of funds required to pay for school expenses 

  • teenage pregnancies 

  • increased risk of disease and infections (HIV/AIDS) 

  • limited or no access to clean water 

  • child labour 

  • restrictions of movement or availability of essential resources and support 

  • limited or no access to medical care.

Accomplishments

One of the most tangible examples of ROAD’s accomplishments has been the direct support to Ste Bernadette Centre. Ste Bernadette Centre is a safe haven for teenage girls seeking refuge from abusive and oppressive tribal practices. It provides shelter, basic necessities, education, medical care and security to any girl, regardless of religious affiliation.

ROAD’s efforts have led to a general improvement in the welfare of resident teenage girls at Ste Bernadette Centre. Specific examples of ROAD’s achievements include providing Ste Bernadette Centre with the means to:

  • contribute towards the salaries of teachers at Ste Bernadette Middle School

  • procure a scooter to assist staff with urgent and immediate rescue of a teenage girl 

  • purchase food 

  • purchase critical medicines 

  • purchase textbooks 

  • purchase footwear 

  • contribute to the tuition, room and board for more than 100 girls who have escaped forced polygamous marriages

Goals

  • Continue to contribute to the room, board, and tuition as well as the funding of other basic needs; such as medicine and clothing for the girls who have fled forced polygamous marriages and are currently attending Collège Ste-Bernadette.
  • Contribute to the girls' secondary school education allowing them to reach the minimum requirement a for high school diploma in Burkina Faso.

  • Mobilize local organizations with a view to acquiring additional funding and support. 

  • Coordinate efforts with national and international agencies to assist with contributions for larger projects (such as improving library facilities, school materials and reducing class sizes). 

  • Seek and attract the support of corporations with the hope of acquiring additional funds and support. 

Founder

    Following a heroic struggle with cancer, Denise Baillargeon passed away on October 8, 2013. 

    In 1995, on a flight from Paris where Denise had been visiting her son who was studying in Europe, she met an African nun from Burkina Faso. It was a transformational meeting. Sister Delphine Nubi was travelling to Toronto to attend a conference on womens’ issues at York University to speak of the plight of young women and girls in West Africa and particularly on forced marriage and polygamy. From that meeting came a lifelong vocation for Denise. 

    She became committed to the cause of abused women and girls in Burkina Faso, a small and impoverished West African country. Denise travelled to Africa five times between 2001 and 2011 and created, almost single-handedly, a registered charity: Rescuing Our African Daughters (ROAD). Today, ROAD helps fund a school and a women’s centre in Burkina Faso that care for a significant number of young girls who have escaped forced marriage, genital mutilation and other abuses. 

    Denise was a person of deep religious faith and moral example and was very active in her church. Before she became ill in 2012, she had attended daily mass for almost 25 years. She believed that living was for giving and remained dedicated to ROAD until her last breath. ROAD will continue to help teen age girls in Burkina Faso and will carry forward the torch so brightly lit by Denise in 1995. 

    Denise is survived by a loving family, her husband of 40 years and their children Paul, Christiane, Natalie and Isabelle. She is also survived by 6 grandchildren, 9 siblings and more than 50 nieces and nephews. She is dearly missed. 

Co-Founder

    Patricia Girouard along with our late President, Denise Baillargeon, was instrumental, as a founding member, in getting ROAD underway. She passed away on January 7, 2016, after a ten year battle with cancer. She was courageous, hopeful throughout this period. As a board member of ROAD, she was passionate about helping young women and girls in Burkina Faso and made a generous donation to ensure that its work would continue after her death. 

Governance

ROAD has a strong board of directors who oversee the charity. The Board is made up of volunteers who do not collect salary.

  • Founder: Denise Baillargeon
    Former interpreter for the Legislative Assembly in Ontario, Canada.

  • President and Treasurer: Solange McNeely
    Retired social worker previously employed by a family service agency and a school board.

  • Vice-President: John West
    Our late founder's husband, lawyer in Toronto, with the charity since its inception.

  • Secretary: Marie Comiskey
    Lawyer with the Government of Canada.

  • Board member: Danna Donald
    Lawyer in a leading Toronto law firm.

  • Board member: MaryAnne Girouard
    Joined the Board in January 2017. Retired Registered Nurse. Very aware of the charity for years because of her interaction with her late sister-in-law Patricia Girouard.

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