Here are a few of the questions
that are often asked about the Ouidah Homeless Children's Project.
this a fair price for this property?
I wish I could say Yes, but because it's in a small African town
where they do not have the same tools and processes for real estate
sales, I just cannot tell if the price is fair. My hope, is to
travel there with the money and do some research on the ground.
Then if the price is too high, I will be in a position to negotiate
a better price and use the money saved to buy things like toilets
and beds and more. Martine says the price is fair and she owns
and lives in the property next door, but I would hope to have
more data points than that.
is APEF and why should they own the property?
APEF is a registered NGO in Benin and has been helping women and
children in villages since 2001. I went on a couple village visits
personally and it is quite inspiring. APEF has a 6-member board
of directors (Martine is the President) and the organization will
own the new property. The project will be visited regularly by
the Salesian Sisters (an international organization with offices
and schools in Benin) who will report back to me to assure the
project continues to operate as intended.
if something goes wrong and the project ends?
This is an issue that has concerned me from the start. However,
I think there is no other answer than APEF will sell or control
the facility and be subject to the rules governing an NGO in Benin.
Martine has been selflessly taking care of these kids for 5 years
so I think she is a person who will do the right thing in that
da Souza is the founder and head of APEF, registered local NGO
that helps women and children in the villages by teaching them
how to avoid child trafficking and HIV, and to know their legal
rights in domestic issues. She has also been a licensed guide
for almost two decades and speaks five languages. She has translated
for many dignitaries in Benin, the U.S., and other countries.
She comes from a prominent Ouidah family but has made it on her
own. I spent every day in Nov 2013 with Martine and she was honest,
knowledgeable, and a pleasure to be around. I trust her completely
or I would not be heading this project.
many children can this project serve?
Martine would like to serve as many children as possible. She
is currently serving 8 boys but other homeless children have asked
her for help. With 4 large bedrooms, 24 is probably the maximum.
She will start 12-16 and see how that goes. Having too many children
in the facility is an invitation to problems and demands more
Martine, her mother, her children, and a local schoolmaster have
been supervising the children. Mostly, it's Martine who supervises
the kids, and her mother does most of the cooking. So far, cooking,
eating, showers, washing clothes, and lessons have taken place
at Martine's house, next door to the new property. That will shift
to the new property if we can purchase it. With more children
and a more complete facility, more supervision will be added.
The property is about 1740 sq ft with a huge fenced and gated
yard. It's on a safe, middle class street. The yard will make
a fantastic garden. The 4 bedrooms are large and will each have
2-3 bunk beds. There are 2 bathrooms, each with a toilet, sink,
and shower. The kitchen and living room are large and open to
each other. We'll get 4-5 tables and 20 chairs for eating and
hanging out. The kitchen needs to be outfitted. Gas and water
need to be hooked up too. Later, the option to add second level
will be considered. (The house was prepped for future second level
during construction.) Martine and I have detailed architectural
drawings for the structure and property. The property is owned
by a Frenchman living in Paris who has never occupied the property
since purchasing it in 2007.
I met the children in Nov 2013 and they are a delight. They are
very considerate and cooperative. It's hard to believe they all
lived on the street. They started school this year for the first
time. Antoine, the headmaster of a school about 30 minutes away,
has been tutoring them for a few years (along with Martine). In
their first year, they are at the top of their classes. There
is too much to say about these children for this small document.
What happens to my donation
if donations fall short of the goal?
If we don't raise enough money to buy
the property, the donations will be deposited in Martine's NGO
account to be used exclusively for school expenses, food, clothing,
medical, and other essentials for the kids. Or possibly, another
property or housing opportunity will be found. She is very frugal
and resourceful and will use the money wisely. If the kids have
to vacate the house, I predict Martine will find some place nearby
for the kids to sleep (probably outdoors but better than the alleys)
and she will continue to supervise them and take care of their
daily needs for as long as she is able. I will also monitor things
from afar and interact with the board of directors of her NGO.
Have other questions?
Post a question on our project's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/homelesschildren444/