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Public space for small village

I met an architect at the hostel the first week. She works in a very tiny villsge on my way. So I visit her and the now allmost complete project. I am very impressed about the beautiful place they created in only three years. Wish it will turn out the way they planned or better.

As I arrive around 11 after an early morning of 30 km on dirtroad I meet Arianna and her group. We are invited to a childrens christmasparty at the place they built. We are invited from 13. We come at 15. Party seems to start at 16...😅

But most people areive around 17. In the end there are some 200 people together. No masks...oups.

The king is there andmany people of importance. King is king over the village of 500 people.

We see the place eat a litle and watch andtake part in traditional dancing. Some chickenwing-like dance where you half sit and throw your sholdersfastforward.

In theend comes santa, handing out presents to the 24 orphants. Santa has a long blond wig and a terrible scarry clasic santa mask. Yes, a white-man santa mask.

This is Ariannas storry about the project.

- We started our relationship with Benin in 2017. At that time, we were students and we have got involved in a researchers about public spaces with 5 students from Benin. Then, during the same time, for coincidence, Oasis N'Djili contacts our university looking for people to work for an orphanage in Sowé. We answered to that call!

- The idea of the project came at first from some people in the village, particularly leaded by Sikirou an educator of Sowé that got friends with a Belgian educator Gauthier in 2007. Gauthier was membre of the small ong Oasis N'Djili belgium, and this friendship became a strong cooperation between the ong and the community of Sowé. The project got the name of XEWA SOWÉ, that in the local languages meant " under the wings of Sowé protection ".

- Since then we did 3 visits for analysing and for better understanding of the needs, the local technics, materials and architecture.During this time we where working with Sikirou but we identify also other great people that got involved and helped the project to get real. A special key person was Aaron that helped us to coordinating the works. Finally in October 2018, we stated building and we stayed here for 9 months.

- We are 4 architects Doryan, Florian, Corentin and me. We studied and the ULB in Brussels.

We have been volunteering for the project since the beginning ( 2016) and we still are.During the 9 months we have got the airplanes tickets and a small amount of money just for the house food and internet connection. In Belgium, 3 other people are part of the ong Oasis N'Djili Belgium working and since 2018 the 8 people in people in the villages created also a ong called Oasis N'Djili Benin. All this people are also 100 % volunteering.

- at first the local asked for a orphanage because a the village got touched by a two very bads cholera epidemics in 2008 and 2010. At that time the solidarity get started and peoples helped the orphanage as they could. When we arrived, the emergency wad passed but the people where still strongly involved to help Sowé children. That's why we studied the really needs and the project changed in a bigger children center with 4 main areas:

1. Emergency houses for orphanage of children's with particulry difficulty in they family.

2. A kitchen and a space of eating for some 30 extra children.

3. A library and a learning center open to everyone.

4. A garden with fruit and vegetables and a Artemisia fields ( a plant that hill from malaria ) that is also the main money income for economic autonomy.

Rights now the centre is build, open to the first children's but with a small production of food and with some problems for the water supply.

- during our analysis we collaborated with the 3 chief of the village and the king. They gave us a list of they best artisans. The we saw all of them and choose the best for us. We also asked to the olds men in the village for the locals techniques. The project is not related to any religion or political parties. We make sure that all materials came from max 30 km far from the villages and that we had as much as possible men an woman involved from Sowé. Since now the project is economically helped by private donations and a since December from the NIF foundation ( for some equipment and furnitures) . But we are always looking for donations for this firsts year before the autonomy. The more urgently need is about the increasing the capacity of the water tank and the solar panels. This will help for increasing also the food production of and Artemisia.

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