At Dassa, located in the center of Benin, the Association Saint-Camille is building a large center to care for people who have both drug addiction and mental illness. This particular clientele is present in the ten psychiatric residential centers. They often disturb the other patients who are treated there. They need a different approach, which is known in psychiatry. This will be the only center in French-speaking West Africa to offer such a service. It should receive its first patients this year (2023). Its construction is financed by the Italian Episcopal Conference, as well as a Spanish association.
In the structure of ASCL’s services, the majority of the ten residential centers in the three countries mentioned above are associated with a nearby rehabilitation center. The leaders of ASCL have decided that for the center of Dassa, this will take the form of a farm. They called upon Les Amis de la Saint-Camille for its financing. A 17-hectare plot of land was purchased last year and notarized. This area is agricultural. It has sandy-silt soil with good rainfall in two rainy seasons.
Three goals will be pursued at this farm:
– Reintegration, i.e. preparing male and female patients to return to their environment at the end of their treatment. For the men, it will be a matter of improving their physical condition by working on the plantation an increasing number of hours per week, learning new agricultural techniques, for those who come from rural areas (composting, crop rotation, etc…), developing work habits (starting and finishing on time, accepting the boss’s instructions, etc…). Women will
resume participation in the agricultural work traditionally reserved for them (sowing, transplanting, harvesting) as well as in traditional responsibilities lost due to illness (cooking, washing, small vegetable gardens, etc.).
– Increased food self-sufficiency : the food grown at the farm will help feed the patients at the psychiatric care centers, thus reducing the costs of purchasing food products. The planned crops will be varied and attention will be paid to protein vegetables, too often lacking in patients’ diets. Thus, both the quantity and quality of the food will increase.
– Raising revenues to help cover the numerous needs of the ASCL (personnel salaries, purchase of medicines, transport, etc…) via the sale of the harvested surplus. This helps fulfill a long-standing objective of the Saint-Camille Association, which has been the object of considerable efforts. The less our partner is dependent on foreign income, the less its
sustainability will be a source of concern.
Three elements enhance and promote realization of the project:
– Loïc Coudière, leader of the French association “À la Croisée des Chemin,” agronomist-farmer in early retirement, partner since 2007 of ASCL, will be the project manager and will answer for it, together with his wife Antoinette. They will live in Dassa for the next several years. They have sent a container of agricultural equipment and supplies by boat for this project in
December 2022. Both have made preparatory visits to Dassa over the past six months. Loïc and the leader of Les Amis have known each other well for more than ten years and are working on the project with Grégoire, the ASCL leader. Through his association, Loïc has also pioneered the development of the Agoïta farm.
– The Agence Territoriale de Développement Agricole (ATDA) of the Beninese Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MAEP) is involved in this project. Meetings and exchanges have taken place between Loïc and Mr. Adolphe Agbo, director of the regional ATDA and Mr. Eugène Alissou, former director. Both support the project and are available to provide support. Discussions have focused on climate conditions, crop rotation and on the production of particular
crops (soybean, corn, banana, pigeon pea and market gardening), using technical and economic data sheets. The ATDA encourages and supports quality agricultural development and will act as a consultative and expert body for the smooth running of this project, both during its implementation and in the years to follow.
– The Association Saint-Camille has owned a farm in Agoïta (68 hectares) near Bohicon (about 75 km south of Dassa) since 2009. As mentioned above, Loïc has played a major role in its development (agricultural instrumentation, establishment of the palm grove, banana plantation as well as market gardening and food crops – rice, cassava, corn, etc.). More than 50% is under cultivation, the rest is still under development. A Spanish association, Moianes Solidari, supports
the farm’s management team. In short, both ASCL and Loïc are experienced in tropical agriculture.
1) As soon as funding permits, construction of the farm building will begin (probably in March). The building will house 20 staff and patients undergoing rehabilitation. The construction will include toilets, showers and a pit (latrine). The area is currently cleared and ready for construction.
2) The next step will be the clearing of the rest of the land: weeding and removal of stumps to allow for cultivation. The work is planned for April, giving time for Loïc and his wife to arrive and settle. The 17 hectares of land is composed of two adjacent parcels bought and notarized.
3) The installation of the solar electrification and the irrigation system with the pump will come later.
4) The last step will be the seeding and transplanting: banana, cassava, corn, pigeon peas and a significant market garden production (tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc…).
– The drilling of the well has been completed, as well as the construction of the water tower.
– Two people will be trained at the Songhaï agro-ecological center in Porto-Novo, Benin
– Building (plans available): ………………………………………….. $124,870
– Land clearing (Mission Inclusion – in hand)…………………….. $10,000
– Solar Electrification: ………………………………………………….. $37,000
– Irrigation system: ……………………………………………………….. $39,000
– Latrines, showers: ………………………………………………………. $36,000
– Plants and seeds (anonymous donation – in hand):…………. $5,000
– Songhai training: …………………………………………………………. $5,000
TOTAL : …………………. $256,870
This project will complete the structure of services present in the Saint-Camille approach for people being treated in residential care. At the end of their journey, depending on the needs of each person, many will be moved to this reintegration center to prepare for their return to their community. This transition will mark another step in their journey.
In addition, the farm will contribute to the search for sustainability of the Association Saint-Camille, i.e., it will become more autonomous and therefore less dependent on external resources to ensure its continuity in the years to come.
Through this initiative, Les Amis de la Saint-Camille will have made another significant contribution to the development of its partner, with the ultimate goal of supporting it in the modern psychiatric services provided to people whom Grégoire rightly calls “the forgotten among the forgotten”.
These projects were all carried out in response to requests from our African partner, the Association Saint-Camille-de-Lellis (“Saint-Camille”). They were selected after discussion among the leaders of our two NGOs and approval by the Board of Directors of “Les Amis”.
-The projects consist of construction, activities designed to promote vocational rehabilitation and financial self-sufficiency, training and agri-food development.
-For each of the projects we have requested funding from one of our partners.
-Our NGO is committed to supporting some of these projects for a total amount of $96,900.
1) In Adjarra, construction of a warehouse with 6 bedrooms for staff who work there (all recovered patients) at a cost of $61,500. Grégoire, leader of the Saint-Camille, has been requesting such a building for several years, in order to store various items that the St-Camille has been accumulating here and there. This will free space at the Adjarra Health
Centre that can be better used for hospitalized patients. Using one of the outside walls, six rooms will be built for administrative and clinical staff who work there. These individuals are currently occupying rooms that need to be freed for patient care. All patients in Benin’s psychiatric care centers can receive physical health care in Adjarra at no cost, while the local population also has access to it at reduced cost. This is another service that St. Camille offers to the poorest people who, for the most part, cannot access such services. The project is currently underway and should be finished at the end of December with funding from the Logos Foundation as well as the Transport Bourassa company.
2) In Adjarra, complete the interior finishing of the House for Volunteers at a cost of $40,800. The building is currently about 70 % completed. Located on the site of the Health Center, this building will house the medical staff during the periodic short bursts of medical care provided by professionals from abroad and from outside the regular staff. A Brazilian
mission (24 medical professionals) came in September 2021 and provided services at this location as well as in neighboring parishes (over 5,000 consultations). Delighted with the opportunities that the place affords, they have committed to deploy such missions monthly when all is completed. Ongoing project funded by an anonymous religious community and contributions from our members; also scheduled for completion in December 2022.
3) In Tokan, complete the interior finishing of the Medical Clinic, at a cost of $37,000. The building is built within the walls of this psychiatric care center in Cotonou. The Saint Camille began to provide contemporary specialized services free of charge for patients treated at the centers and at reduced cost for the local population. The interior of the building has been completed, including tiling, plumbing, electricity and painting. Our NGO financed the costs through donations from our members.
4) Stays of three trainers (Solange, Suzanne and Martine) = +/- $20,000. These three Quebec professionals went to the Saint-Camille to provide support and training in governance. Their mandate was to improve the clinical organization of care, financial management, and secretarial services, with an evaluation of the managers’ training needs. Two of them received financial support from the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO).
5) Purchase of medical equipment for the Tokan Medical Clinic: ultrasound, colonoscopy, medical analysis laboratory ($36,000). This is to complement the recently opened clinic (see project 3). It already had digital radiology and a
dispensary. The equipment was paid by the Roncalli Foundation.
6) At the Psychiatric Care Center of Sokodé in Togo, installation of solar panels and purchase of a pump for the irrigation of the large vegetable garden and the cashew tree plantation = $25,000. This is the second part of a project started last year,
which is a cashew tree plantation of six hectares and a large vegetable garden. Three objectives: vocational rehabilitation activities, a contribution to the search for food autonomy and a financial contribution through the sale of the surplus of the harvest. Project financed by Mission Inclusion with Les Amis.
7) Training of 2 nurses in their 3rd year ($2,500 X 2) = $5,000. Final phase of a project financed by the Rotary Clubs, who also made a significant contribution to the purchase of medicines and the construction of beds at the Tokan Center.