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kouande education

This is the first project which the trust picked up and is one which will continue for many years to come. In the north of Benin is the Kingdom of Kouande – in this region most families are polygamist with some families with  3 wives and over 20 children. Because the families are so large the boys are given priority over the girls to attend school. Since 1996, Cotonou Rotarian Gene Crestia has sponsored more than 150 girls with her own money at a cost of £20 per girl per year to provide school supplies to enable the girls to be educated.. The trust members felt this was unacceptable for one person to have such a burden on their own personal finances and set about finding sponsors to help alleviate this expense.

A final plan is now in force, whereby the school supplies are provided by donations from the UK and the school uniforms are supplied by “Mama Gene” who wanted to remain involved with the people of Kouande.


GBEDROMEDJE (The Snake School)

In the suburbs of Cotonou (Benin) lies a school compund infested with snakes. The reason for the infestation is the close proximity of the school to a rubbish tip and the fact that it is surrounded by unkept shrubbery. Approximately three children a week are bitten by the snakes and are rushed to hospital for the anti-venom. The school even employs a full time “snake catcher” to help alleviate  the problem.

The Trust are in the process of raising funds to clear the shrubbery, remove the rubbish dump and erect a 6 foot wall around the perimeter of the school. Because this school is in the suburbs, we are also undertaking to construct a library and a new kitchen as well as supply the children with badly needed school supplies.

The full time “snake catcher” will then become a full time caretaker..



24 individual students have been given sponsorship for a four year course in professional trades (Electrical, Plumbing, Joinery and Metalwork). These students receive full training in the chosen profession, sponsored at a cost of £90 per year.

As always with the adult training they will receive health and hygiene training, as well as sex education, tetanus injections and the required tools of their trade.



Cotonou is a sea port and welders in this area do not have the basic equipment to safely carry out the work they do.  As a result many of them arrive at hospital with damaged eyes because they do not wear or possess welding goggles. This project provided a basic health and hygiene course, tetanus injections, sex education and a pair of welding goggles to 1000 young welders in the city.



On the outskirts of Parakou is a school where approximately 500 children attend. In this school is very basic equipment and they have no books or writing materials with only ONE dictionary for the whole school. All lessons are taught by the teacher working with a blackboard.

Working with the Rotary Club of Parakou the Trust were able to help provide school supplies, which included a school bag, pens, pencils, rulers, rubbers and writing books to every pupil at a total cost of £1000.



Ganvie is situated on Lake So Ava in the south of Benin and is a World Heritage Site. This is a unique city which grew from a few natives trying to escape from the slave traders nearly 300 years ago. By building houses on stilts in the middle of a lake they believed they were safe from slavers.

Over time this area has grown and currently has a population of over 80,000 – with all the amenities of a normal town including churches, schools, hotels, hospitals, shops, bars etc. The main problem the residents have is children drowning while swimming to school. Working with the Rotary Club of Cotonou Centre, four boats are to be purchased which will each carry 60 children in safety to school.

Once the boats have been constructed, the Mayor and the Council of Ganvie have promised to maintain them by paying for the petrol, staff and upkeep of the boats. Each boat costs £4000 and when bought and provided will carry the name of the sponsoring club on the side of the boat.



Awarded a Rotary International Award for the Best Rotaract Overseas Project of 2005/06. This project was instigated by the West Africa Trust who gave the idea of building a new school to the UK Rotaract Liaison Officer. Once the Rotaractors saw the state of the existing school, a conscious decision was made to raise the £19,000 needed. They travelled to Benin and built the new school house for the children of this poor suburb in Cotonou.

Within a week of their arrival the building was complete and a grand handover ceremony took place.

The school has three classrooms a storage room and a staff/headmasters office.


1407 AIR TRAINING CORPS (Newton Aycliffe)

The young members of the 1407 Air Training Corps have involved themselves in helping the people of West Africa through the Trust, raising funds and awareness of the needs of the poorest people in the world. These young kids set themselves huge tasks and complete them with great enthusiasm and energy.

The Cadets on the Duke of Edinburgh course are now working on raising cash to buy a school boat.

The Trust would like to give a special thanks to all the members of the 1407 ATC – well done guys ! ! !



During a brief visit to Benin in October 2006, the Fulani’s explained the need for a schoolhouse as their children had to walk between 5 and 15 miles each day to get to school.

This is a project which will be scheduled once more information has been  gathered.



The Nomads are well known for constantly being on the move, however the younger generation are realising that they need to move with the times and are starting to settle in places where water is available. They are building schools for their children to learn how to read and write. This is an exciting project, which will enable the Nomadic children of Niger to integrate with modern society and become aware of and understand what is happening in the world.

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