The Family Home La Solidarité is a small-scale living community in the village of Kénouhoué in southern Benin. Since 2015 Gilbert and his wife Antoinette have lived together with about twenty-five children between the ages of 4 and 18. All children share the same background: they were brides of a Vodun , children who, for various reasons, were sometimes locked up for years under often primitive conditions in a vodun monastery to be trained as priest or priestess. As a children’s rights lawyer and vodunman, Gilbert feels a strong concern for these children and sees it as his task to keep their time in the monastery to a minimum.
Once their education has been completed, the children may return to their parents. For the children who have lost their parents and who do not have a safe home to return to, Gilbert has founded the Family Home La Solidarité.
Gilbert continues to use his best efforts, if he finds the situation acceptable, to place these children with their relatives. This is partly the reason why the Family Home can remain a small-scale initiative accommodating rarely more than twenty-five children. The Family Home is a close-knit living community that is well integrated in the village of Kenououé. All children attend school or receive vocational training.
Although the Family Home has officially been recognized by the Benin government, it receives no financial support from the state. Ends are met thanks to a part of Gilbert’s salary for his work as a a children’s rights lawyer in the service of the government (€ 300 per month) and occasional gifts from the local community. However, this was not sufficient to cover the expenses and there were always outstanding debts to school or market women.
Thanks to Kind in Benin, the situation has improved drastically. There is now running water and electricity. The family home is debt-free and the monthly expenses for food can be paid from the income from the sale of water, electricity (charging mobile phones), the products of the three hectares of agricultural land and vegetable garden and the proceeds of the corn mill. An additional advantage is the employment that the family home offers with all these activities, to people from the village.
The foundation is now been able to shift its attention to the future. We want to set up a study fund from which the costs of education and studies of the children can be paid. That is why the Foundation is recruiting people willing to become a Friend of the Family Home and give their support by paying a once only or monthly contribution.
SUSTAINABILITY AND SELF-SUFFICIENCY
In addition to direct financial support, we want to continue to realize sustainable changes contributing to self-sufficiency and raising the standard of living in the Family Home and the village of Kenouhoue where the family home is located.
Since January 2017, thanks to donations of various funds we have been able to realize the following larger projects:
• solar energy panels and lighting
• water well and water tower
• maize mill
• purchase and exploitation of agricultural land
• planting and exploitation of a vegetable garden
The following projects are in the pipeline:
• offering a training as a beekeeper to the farmers in the area and the purchase of material for this
• the construction of a shelter and a night barn for the sheep, goats, pigs and chickens that still roam freely on the grounds of the Family Home but which causes more and more nuisance due to their increasing numbers
• the purchase of a mobile electric fence for the sheep and goats to protect the crops of the surrounding farmers.