Pierre Yamleowo Balma

Pierre was born on July 12, 1966 in a village called Zao, Kouplea regtion, Kuritenga province, Burkina Faso in West Africa. In 1967, one Peace Core volunteer came to his village during the severe drought to help the village get clean water, when he was only one years old. Jim Norman Rosellini, the peace core volunteer was given another name, Taale Laafi Roselini, by the chief of the Pressure drums, which means Bring Peace!

Taale, and Pierre’s father Raymond Balma, together organized help to dig 18 wells to bring clean water in nine villages! After the period of time allowed for Peace Corp service, in 1975, Taale requested to the government of Burkina Faso the creation of a national archive to preserve the music, dance and culture of the people of Burkina Faso. Taale invited Pierre to Santa Cruz, California, USA to visit and to help him translate and edit all of the documentary films he did on Pierre’s family and on all the Mossi people in Burkina Faso.

One day, Pierre visited the Buena Vista dump in Santa Cruz County California and saw many useful tools and items that could be used to change people lives in his country. Pierre decided to become an instrument to bring the awareness of their village’s needs to the western world. Tools for Change Africa, a not for profit humanitarian effort for West Africa rural communities was born. You can reach him at toolsforchangemyafrica@gmail.com

James Vermilyer

James is the Assistant Director for Tools For Change Africa, based in San Juan Bautista, California, U.S.A., and Koupela, Burkina Faso, Africa. He started his involvement with the program in 2016 when he donated some tools to the Director, Pierre Balma. He and Pierre were reunited the following year when Pierre returned to the United States to gather more tools. James and Pierre then began working together to build Tools For Change Africa into a thriving non-profit organization.

James has spent much of his adult life working as a whitewater rafting guide, as well as managing a water sports rental shop. As a child, he had many opportunities to travel to different parts of the world, including Italy and Thailand, which gave him the life experiences and perspectives that have helped shape the person he is today. His prior work and travels laid a solid foundation of skills necessary for his current position with Tools For Change Africa.

When James is not gathering tools, packing shipping containers, and educating others about the important work that Tools For Change Africa is doing, you may find him helping his family to maintain their ranch property. He is currently focused on the expansion and sustainability of Tools for Change Africa, while also seeking out additional opportunities that will enhance his personal and professional growth. You can reach him at jamesv.tfca@gmail.com.