Poupla Paul YOUL is an intelligence executive at the Research and Information Processing Center of the National Gendarmerie of Burkina Faso (CRTI/GN). The purpose of his mission was to collect general information, to exploit it and propose new actions to his chain of command. Now with MINUSMA since October 2021 in the Gao region, he has a new purpose, he and his colleagues have been conducting security patrols to protect and reassure communities. He is also involved in the protection of the camp.
Poupla Paul YOUL doesn't just do that. He has hidden talents that he gladly puts at the service of the return of peace and stability to Mali. Dessin, portrait, painting, digital photography are his passions.
He mentions that "through digital photography, I can capture key moments during activities with communities in favor of social cohesion and the restoration of peace. Photography also allows me to document our action, especially during long-range patrols in the Gao region". UN Police patrols have enabled the resumption of weekly fairs and markets. On these occasions, agent YOUL takes photos of the peacekeepers' interactions with traders and their customers to immortalize in picture the relationship of trust that was built but also to show that not all Malians are resistant to the presence of MINUSMA in Mali. "With my intelligence background, I always try to find the bad in the good to perfect the good" sums up so well the peacekeeper who puts his art at the service of his work with so much generosity.
From a more operational point of view, YOUL claims to take the largest number of shots during the patrol route. "The simple fact of taking pictures of the road, of the security device deployed, makes it possible to assess how safety is held," he says.
A long-standing passion shared with communities
This altruism did not begin when he donned his uniform as a peacekeeper. In Burkina Faso, he was already training students aged 10 to 17 in drawing and digital photography free of charge during the school holidays. "Who knows, some may find a vocation in this activity both fun and didactic. My goal was to enable them to self-employ in the future. Anything that reduces juvenile delinquency and why not, the unemployment rate in my country pays me," says the YOUL agent.
In his work, his artistic talents allow him to be more in touch with the people he serves. In some contexts, the uniform can be intimidating. "The image I try to give to women and men in uniform is that they can and contribute to the balance and well-being of societies." To contribute to that of the Burkinabe contingent in Gao, as a prelude to the last UN peace medal ceremony, YOUL volunteered to refresh the camp's façade with his artistic touch.
Today, Poupla Paul YOUL derives great satisfaction from being deployed within MINUSMA. "It's a dream come true for me because I was keen to make my contribution to peace outside the borders of my native country and to be able to contribute to the sowing of seeds for peace in the Sahel in a certain way," he explains, art at the end of the gun. This is hardly surprising because Officer YOUL defines "peace as a behavior, an art".