Shonali Banerjee and Aliza Appelbaum are In-The-Field Representatives for GlobalGiving. They are visiting projects in Morocco, Spain and France. Here is their most recent "postcard" from France:
On Thursday, August 16, 2012, Aliza and I had the great pleasure of meeting with Baptise Cammareri, newly appointed Community Manager for Association La Voute Nubienne (AVN) in Paris. The AVN projects are located in the Sahel region of Africa, but the organization is based in France, so we were thrilled to meet with Baptiste to discuss the projects and AVN's unique approach to ameliorating the housing situation in western Africa.
After speaking with Baptiste for just a few minutes, Aliza and I were both very impressed with the AVN approach- they do not simply raise money to build the vaulted homes, nor do they send in staff from abroad to build the homes. They help the African builders living in rural communities teach other local builders the necessary techniques to build the vaulted homes. We really enjoyed hearing about this "help others help themselves" type of approach that has been used so successfully all around the world.
Baptiste also mentioned that in addition to the Burkina Faso-based projects, AVN now also has expanded into Mali and Senegal. We were thrilled to hear that the AVN method has been gaining popularity in the region, allowing for the organization to expand into other countries. Baptiste also mentioned the difficulties of running a project like this. He explained that implementing change in these rural, traditional African communities can be very difficult. But its for this reason that the AVN method is so effective since they use local builders to train other builders, rather than using foreigners to go in to change centuries-old traditions.
Aliza and I thoroughly enjoyed our meeting with Baptiste and wished that we could fly down to Burkina Faso to see the AVN method in action. However, we felt assured that the AVN team is doing everything in their power to create environmentally sustainable homes for the Sahel populations while helping traditional African builders teach the AVN techniques to their local communities. We look forward to seeing more projects form AVN in the near future!
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