From August 6-7, 2014, the National Coordination of Tostan Mauritania in partnership with UNICEF and the Mauritanian Ministry of Social Welfare, of Children, and of Families (MASEF), held two intervillage meetings in Carrefour and Abbaye in the Brakhna region of Southern Mauritania. The meetings brought together 30 participating communities in the Community Empowerment Program (CEP) to discuss the progress of the program in its sixth month of implementation for the Generational Change in Three Years campaign. However, most importantly, they met to develop and elaborate on action plans for the period of August 10th until September 30th, 2014 when Tostan’s classes are in recess due to the rainy season.
At Carrefour, after the meeting was blessed by the village Imam Cheikh Vetr, the village chief took the floor and recognized the pioneering role Tostan plays in his community. He said that thanks to Tostan, regional administrative authorities visited his village for the first time. He also thanked Tostan for creating cohesion between participants, which is very important to him as chief of the village.
Mamadou Baba Aw, Tostan Mauritania’s National Coordinator then took the floor to explain the purpose of the meeting and gave more details about the Generational Change in Three Years campaign. He also reaffirmed Tostan’s commitment to working with the Mauritanian authorities to promote human rights and the abandonment of harmful traditional practices.
Fatimettou Ebnou, the coordinator of the Community Management Committee (CMC) of Carrefour, praised Tostan for encouraging participants to recognize and solve the problems in their communities, and for providing important knowledge: “We now possess skills and knowledge on topics such as health, sanitation, democracy, governance, and conflict resolution.”
Following her testimony, each organizer presented Tostan posters representing different human rights, such as the right to education, health, nutrition, habitat, peace and security, vote, equality, property, citizenship, and marriage to name a few. Participants then performed a theatre sketch on the harmful health effects of child/forced marriage.
The second intervillage meeting in the Abbaye was presided over by the Prefect of Boghé, Dia Hamady Hassimiou, who not only praised the dynamism of Tostan and expressed appreciation for Tostan’s presence in Boghé since 2007, but also promised the full support of Tostan’s program by the authorities, which are in line with national education policies.
The ceremony ended with community representatives who reaffirmed their commitment to continue leading their own development during the two-month break from CEP classes and to work for the success of the action plans developed during the intervillage meetings. Tostan communities plan to continue to run village clean-up days, awareness-raising activities on child protection, environmental sustainability, and health.