October 1, 2016
In December 2015, UNPO launched a charity appeal to raise funds for Haratin children called ‘From Slavery to Success: Read, Write and Smile’. Slavery is still rife in Mauritania, and freed slaves and their children face discrimination, are poorer, and have less access to education than the rest of the population. The crowdfunding campaign aimed at gathering financial support to provide reading and writing lessons to underprivileged Haratin children. We are delighted to report that the campaign was a success and our backers even surpassed the initial funding target!
In April 2016, the project was initiated with the opening of three classes in the El Mina and Tarhil townships of Nouakchott. It was implemented on the ground by our partner, a local NGO called the Association of Volunteers Against Illiteracy (Association des Volontaires pour la Lutte contre l’Analphabétisme or AVOCAN). They found venues, recruited teachers, and oversaw the three-months project from start to finish. Originally designed to fund two classes of 20/23 pupils, enthusiastic enrollment meant that over 70 children ended up participating. Rather than turning down over 20 of them, AVOCAN decided to cover the additional fees with the support of their honorary president Abidine Ould Merzough. Merzough is also the Europe Coordinator for the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (Initiative pour la Résurgence du Mouvement Abolitionniste, or IRA), an NGO dedicated to ending slavery in Mauritania.
By May, AVOCAN had opened four classes and enrolled 106 children between the ages of 10 and 15, including 49 girls and 57 boys. All the classes were co-educational and pupils were divided by levels in classes A and B. The Association monitored the children’s levels in reading and writing in Arabic and French two months into the programme, as well as their progress at the end of the project, noticing significant differences in proficiency among the pupils.
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization is very proud of this project’s success and of having given thess children the first tools to read and write and, perhaps, also a small reason to smile.