Children playing at the kindergarten built with the support of Hunger Free World
In 2004, full-scale activity has started in Benin. Currently HFW works in the village of Gbeto, southern part of Benin, relatively close to the business center, Cotonou. The main activities are the provision of education and health service facilities that serve as basis for people’s lives. Especially, education is the foundation for everything. We start from early childhood education targeting children between three and five years old. We are aiming to establish a complete education system from kindergarten through secondary school within the community. Literacy classes are open for youths and adults who had no chance to receive an education. We are urging self-sustainability with skills of reading, writing and calculation at the core and also conducting job training program to improve their income.
As a result of the investigation, 15.6% of the children were found critically malnourished
Women, who missed an opportunity to go to school, learn to read and write
Adults in the community work together to build the kindergarten
The village of Gbeto, where HFW is working, is not far from urban areas. However, according to the survey conducted by HFW, enrollment rate of primary school education, rate of undernourished children and distance to medical facilities turned out to be about the average or lower than the national average. While international organizations work mainly in northern area of the country, we found that many deprived areas still remain in southern Benin
The nearest health facility is about 7-8km away from Gbeto. As for educational institution, there is only one primary school for the population of around 8,000. We found that a lack of secondary school in the area was causing the low enrollment rate. Most people had left primary school in early years because they cannot continue their education in their own community even if they wanted to.
The HFW started the literacy classes for youths and adults who had no chance to receive an education. (Dec. 2004) So far total of 400 or more people have learned reading, writing and calculating in the local language Fon. Some of the graduates of the literacy classes are taking advantage of what they learned and started small business in groups to improve their income. Especially, as mothers gain knowledge and income, they can now invest in education and health for their children.
Kindergarten for three to five years old children was opened. (Oct. 2006) We considered changing the habits from early age is the best way to learn hygienic practice and prevent diseases. We started from scratch to develop a curriculum that matches the needs of children in rural community. As the children start going to school at their early age, their parents began to think of having their children continue education. Now, the kindergarten in the village of Gbeto, with 90 pupils in 3 classes, is the center of vitality of the community. As the children grow up, awareness and behaviors of adults are also starting to change.
Member of the Literacy Promotion Committees are selected among the students to support the six literacy classes in the community. They support teachers in managing the classroom and visit homes of students who abandon the classes. The people support each other, aiming to achieve 100% literacy rate in their community. There is a very active parents’ association in the kindergarten to improve learning environment for the children in cooperation with the teachers. The sense of responsibility towards developing a better community unifies the population to work together.
Five staff members support the HFW activities. They get much help from local residents and specialists.
HUNGER FREE WORLD
B.P.01-5000 Cotonou, Benin