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5/10/2011 - Ivory Coast - Good news from Duékoué
Photo for the article -IVORY COAST  – GOOD NEWS FROM DUÉKOUÉ
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(ANS – Duékoué) – After months of great difficulty caused by overcrowding,  the “Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus” Salesian mission is finally emerging from its state of emergency. Living conditions are improving and it has been possible to recommence some of the normal activities and to plan the work that needs to be done.

The Economer of the French-speaking West Africa Vice Province  Fr Hernán Cordero reports that at present there are between 5,000 and 6,000 people on the site. “Our courtyard is now relatively ‘free’  compared with the month of April when there were over 30,000 refugees.” Just on Monday 26 September 1,550 were transferred to another larger and better equipped camp.

But that does not mean that the people are happy at leaving the mission. Many, especially those from villages in the forest, are still traumatised by their experiences and even though they go out during the day they return at night to sleep. “Time will be needed, and there are the psychological aspects to consider,” the message of the Economer continues.

Nevertheless, tension has eased and security problems have diminished considerably, and for the first time the United Nations contingent in the Ivory Coast (ONUCI) has started talking about “emptying” rather than just “reducing numbers” in the Salesian centre.

The Vocational Training Centre is now functioning more or less normally. Some of the youngsters who used to attend have not returned and their whereabouts are not  known. In September the courses were completed and the 11 students who took the official examination for the Certificate of Competence all passed successfully. Now enrolment has begun for the new year which starts in November.

Thanks to the help received during the more difficult times of the crisis the Salesian mission can now plan for the future. Some of the contributions will be used for re-building projects: toilet facilities, new piping and re-painting for the parish; while the most important task is the restoration of the plumbing and electrical supplies which collapsed under the enormous pressure of recent months (at present ONUCI is seeing to the water supply). They have also offered to help repair the courtyard, but it will be necessary to wait until all the refugees have gone before any of this can be done as well as repairs to the workshops including the replacement of some doors and re-painting.

With the passing of the emergency situation, for some of the NGOs the work of caring for the refugees has come to an end. Now for the Salesians the more difficult part is beginning - helping to rebuild lives. Having lost everything, many of them cannot provide for the education of their children  and so for this reason the CPAR and the elementary schools are organising scholarships partial or complete, according to the needs. Some families especially those made up of widows with children need to be helped to create a small business with handicrafts to provide some sort of income. The community is working on finding the best way to help them (mini-credit schemes, cooperatives, starting loans …).

The human aspects cannot be neglected: the parish especially is already preparing activities to bring together the youngsters and the children and recreating the idea and values of living together.  

The message concludes with words of thanks and of re-assurance: “All of this has been or will be achieved thanks to your help. We want to assure you that the funds received will be used according to the wishes of those who give them, and will be accounted for through the ADAFO Development Office which is helping with the management of the funds.”

Published 05/10/2011

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