At Bras Ouverts – Open Arms (BOOA), our goal is to establish a sustainably financed school that provides free education in Ouidah, Benin. BOOA serves a community of Nigerian refugees who fled environmental destruction in Ogoniland, as well as impoverished Beninese children. These groups cannot enroll in local schools due to linguistic and economic barriers; the Nigerians speak English rather than the local French, and some Beninese families cannot afford school fees and supplies. Therefore, BOOA provides critical access to education for 40 students, and we plan to expand to accommodate more.
BOOA is currently organizing Los Angeles area support for the school, and with the LA South Bay’s assistance, we will build a library – computer lab on school grounds. This will grant students and the wider community regular access to reading materials and computer lessons. Presently, BOOA operates out of a small schoolhouse that contains wall-to-wall desks and benches. By adding another building, we will be able to store books, school supplies and computers, which will greatly enhance the quality of education that the students receive.
Furthermore, we will open the library – computer lab in the evenings so that parents and other locals can also take advantage of the school’s resources. As a part of our sustainability plan, we envision teaching adult computer lessons to generate income for BOOA teachers’ salaries and other fixed costs.
Regarding implementation, our volunteers have prior experience supervising construction through involvement in other local nonprofit activities. Indeed, our partnership with a Beninese non-governmental organization called IMPACT provides us with ready guidance and advice on expansion. In conjunction with our Awesome application, we are also seeking donated computers and books from our volunteers’ networks.
Thus, an Awesome grant will significantly impact the educational opportunities for BOOA students, and the local community.
Funded by LA South Bay, CA (December 2016)