Supporting orphan children and young people from remote villages of Benin, West Africa, enabling them to continue in education.
Throughout the twelve years of involvement of Hands Around The World in this community, in the region of the Oueme Plateau, every effort has been made to incorporate the principles of self-sufficiency and sustainability in all supported activities. Volunteers from the UK continue to ‘give-a-hand’ with developments which are considered essential by the African team members.
The project to replace three classrooms in the village of Dogba which had been lost in floods was successfully completed this year and following the official opening the classrooms are now fully in use.
To enable youngsters to progress to distant Secondary Schools more than 100 cycles have been allocated within this region.
It is pleasing to report that currently the team enables 88 orphaned young people to attend schools in five villages. 41 of those are girls who traditionally would have been expected to remain at home or to be working in the fields. They are all expected to pay the parental contribution – around $30 - and the charges for uniform and school equipment. This is one example of the tangible way in which your generous donations help.
There are now 16 apprentices, some of whom make the uniforms and learn to repair cycles. Hairdressing and building skills are the most popular training programmes. Charges vary but an average sum of $350 for each orphan covers the apprenticeship training period - mostly 3 or 4 years - and $200 is needed for accreditation and the administration of the Diploma.
12 young orphans - 10 males and 2 females - are currently attending University in the cities of Cotonou and Porto Novo and so residential fees, course attendance expenses and transport costs have to be found. Around $1000 covers the total cost for a student to graduate. Entry is open to a potential student who gains the Baccalaureate and who can pay the fees, there is no other barrier to admission. Many thanks in advance if you think you can help towards meeting this expense.
Next major project:
Having discovered that there are increasing numbers of homeless children in both the cities and in our rural region we have been requested to support the development of a residential rescue and training centre in Affame.
Land, near the village playing field has been purchased, a three-year building project has been approved and a group of volunteers is due to visit next February after the local team has established the building foundations. Sponsorship of a volunteer might be an attractive alternative to a personal visit?
The centre will be named ‘Adjidole’, a Fon word meaning ‘Children,- our future’. The plan will be to include an internet facility at the centre consistent with communications development in Benin so inevitably costs will rise! All financial assistance will be well received.
Later, the training facility will be built near to both the secondary school and with access to trading routes. It is thought most likely that there will be training in Red Oil production (the local equivalent of Olive Oil made from Palm Nuts); Tailoring/Hairdressing; Carpentry and Motor Vehicle Maintenance. Subsequently services will be charged and products sold to defray costs of Adjidole.
Having received the generous gift of a tractor in 2012 and new tyres earlier this year, members of the African team have an excellent facility which enables them to assist with community agricultural development as well as building-site preparation and transport of building materials.
Pump-priming local community initiatives has been shown to be effective in this region especially when followed by volunteer visits.
It is always good to hear from prospective volunteers! Please ring 01600 740317 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Many thanks indeed to all who have contributed to the Benin projects so far.
Another year has passed and it is time for a small team to return to Muko School to continue with some maintenance work. Through negations with Immaculee the Headmistress, the main project this visit is to place some windows and doors in the “holes” of the oldest classrooms to allow some light and ventilation in, and maybe make them a little cooler for the children to work in. Other painting and general repairing will also take place in as many rooms as we have the time for; most of this work will be carried out by local men and women from the village who would otherwise be unemployed.
Storing the rainwater that falls daily at this time of the year is an on-going problem, there are intentions of installing at least two further large water tanks on this visit.
The new nursery that has been set up, with the help of Izzy and Immaculee, is continuing to be a great success with over 40 infants now attending daily, with porridge and lunch supplied by local women. The long-term ideal is to get the nursery self-funding by the local parents with, maybe some help from the government.
We have achieved a lot and seen much success in the last four years at this School. Sometimes the work is hot it and can at times be frustrating, but it can be only continued by the dedication of all involved. Volunteers pay their own expenses but money is always needed for local labour, materials, and the running/upkeep of the nursery.
If you have already donated to this project in the past we thank you; if you can continue to do so it will be very much appreciated, so that we may help these very under privileged children out of their present poverty.
The work at Siriba has had its highs and lows this academic year. The principal reports that a good number of students were enrolled at the beginning of the year, some 80 in number, but that this has halved during the course of the year primarily because students could not afford the fees. The fees are really very small but those who are orphans continue to find raising even very small sums difficult. There are also difficulties concerning buildings because some students travel from some distance and there is no accommodation at the centre.
The principal reports that a kitchen is in the process of being built so that during the day at least the staff and students can be given something to eat. Water supply is still difficult but we have plans to help install a rain water catchment system shortly, with a grant promised through friends of Global Giving.
The major issue facing the VTC is how and when the VTC can become more self-sufficient. The Board of Governors has met to work on this and has agreed that training for staff (so that courses can be of the quality required by the local government Dept. of Education) and training for the Board Members needs to be undertaken so that they can work more efficiently together especially in finding new sources of funding. The hope is that by the end of this December they will have a strategic plan in place for 2014 onwards. We have promised to provide some money by way of grants towards this training because, until this is addressed, the Board cannot effectively manage the project.
The other problem that the principal has had to face is his own ill health both with eye problems and intestinal problems. He does report that he is now improving but health care in Uganda is not free and can indeed be quite expensive.
Sadly, poverty means that many people continue to live precariously on the edge. Please help us support them if you can! Thank you.