|Cote d’Ivoire: young people organize more positive way to stay together||| Print ||
The Abobo neighborhood of Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire's former capital city, was unusually lively on March 17, but it was a sight very different from the clashes of post-election violence that divided the area from November 2010 to May 2011. Music and decorations could not help but attract one’s attention, and at the source of it all one met the young people of Agnissankoi school, who helped to host the first Open House connected with the Nouveaux Horizons ("New Horizons") project being implemented by AVSI and its local partners.
AVSI first started in Cote d’Ivoire in 2008, following the opportunity offered by PEPFAR/USAID to expand a successful model being implemented in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda to care for orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) with a strong emphasis on the involvement and capacity building of local groups and governmental bodies. From the beginning, AVSI’s work to benefit children has been alongside activities to benefit disadvantaged adolescents.
The “Nouveaux Horizons” project is co-financed by the European Union and will benefit 4,300 ‘at risk’ young adults ranging in age from 15 to 25 in Abobo, on the outskirts of Abidjan, involving them in educational, athletic and recreational activities in renovated community centers. Every activity is chosen and carried out with great attention that it propose a real change of mentality and lifestyle, offering the most disadvantaged young persons a picture of a healthy, engaging and human life which is an alternative to the life on the streets that many of them know.
The Open Houses are public events which encourage local participation with the aim of sensitization of the whole surrounding community to the goals of the project and to the activities already underway.
This first of the 10 Open House days anticipated during the 3 year project was above all a great opportunity to let the initiative of the young people of Abobo, the direct beneficiaries of the project, take center stage, even literally. In fact, the many of them who climbed onto the festive stage to dance, recite, present project activities and compete could not hide their excitement to be there in front of the mayor of Abobo, the representatives of the EU and the Ivory Coast Ministry of Social Affairs, along with a large portion of their neighbors who were drawn in by the music, the series of radio announcements and the posters hung throughout the area.
Clearly it was an ‘Open House’ in which the adolescents participating were the ones to open wide the doors to each other and to the community, with the project and local partner staff playing an accompanying role. What a small but great witness of the value so dear to AVSI: the centrality of the person in every situation.
November 2010 OVC Program with USAID in Ivory Coast