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New Brooms sweep in 2015

2015 looks to be a great year for us, finally we have the centre ready to receive children.  CREER-USA is in the process of being set up as a fundraising & advocacy body for the centre (on Twitter @CREERUSA).  I went to Cote d’Ivoire in December for almost a month, made some changes & had some fruitful meetings.

IMG_20141217_160443Prior to leaving for Cote d’Ivoire we had a teleconference with IOM (International Organisation for Migration, a UN agency) in Geneva who subsequently put us in touch with their offices in Accra, Ghana & Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.  On arrival in Accra, a lengthy meeting took place which was incredibly positive for C.R.E.E.R in terms of receiving children that IOM are charged with protecting when counter-trafficking exercises take place.

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The centre is looking great!

On arrival in Abengourou, I was thrilled with the advancement of the centre, which had been managed by our volunteer Rachel over the previous few months.  We held her a surprise farewell party before she left to return home for Christmas.

The long two day journey to get to Abengourou from Accra, Ghana became difficult on the Ghanaian side of the border as there wasn’t any IMG_20141223_125805onward public transport to be found.  By luck an Ivorian registered car passed and was flagged down so Charles Sablah of Nima Tours who was keen to see the centre & I, were able to hitchhike to Abengourou.  This resulted in a new relationship with an Ivorian government agency who subsequently allowed us to use their pick-up to retrieve our boxes just before Christmas that Overlanding West Africa had kindly taken from France over a year ago to a banana plantation south of the Ivorian capital, Yamoussoukro. A long, dusty 10 hour return journey!

Banana plantation south of Yamoussoukro
Banana plantation south of Yamoussoukro

Unfortunately we encountered problems with our Outreach Worker, who was caught stealing from the new boxes, added to his total lack of motivation, initiative & disrespect for our rules he was asked to leave just after Christmas, prior to the end of his 3 month probation period.  The problem was now to find someone to replace him in the short time that remained of the visit.  Luckily whilst paying the water bill, I chanced upon another NGO in Abengourou ‘Vision Nouvelles’ who work for the rights of children.  Introducing C.R.E.E.R to them, the question was asked if they knew of a suitable person to join the team.

Ibrahima, our new Outreach Worker
Ibrahima, our new Outreach Worker

After a few calls and CV’s e-mailed, interviews were set up and two were narrowed down for second interviews just after the New Year.  Ibrahima shone through, he previously worked on a benevolent basis with Vision Nouvelles and also had a lot of experience with Save the Children.  He has travelled and worked all over West Africa and similarly to myself seen a lot of injustice against children.  His references were excellent and we were delighted that he accepted the role.

We also offered a part-time position to Kouame our neighbour, to work approximately an hour a day to oversee operations.  He will ensure that all the administrative transparency is kept up to date and that work is carried out in a proper manner.

Kouame, who will oversee operations on a part-time basis.
Kouame, who will oversee operations on a part-time basis.

Another meeting took place prior to the New Year, with a member of the Ivorian branch of AISEC the international student body who had been introduced to us by two friends.  The volunteer we had hoped was arriving unfortunately couldn’t find funding so we talked at length to Gabin Beblai AISEC-CI’s Matching Manager for placements & Eric Twum, a Ghanaian-Canadian who has been volunteering in Cote d’Ivoire.  We’re thrilled to hear Eric has just been elected as the President of AISEC Liberia, a role he will start in July 2015 but will be with C.R.E.E.R prior to moving to Liberia.  After his placement with us, there are apparently a lot of motivated young graduates queuing up to join us!

 

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The beds that the French Licorne forces so kindly donated were looked at by Issouf our friendly metalworker as we needed them to be made into bunk beds.  Issouf did a wonderful job with the two different types of beds and has transformed them with a safety bar for the top bunk.

 

I started the long journey home via Abidjan where an interview was set up with Chrystel Tano who is an intern at GoodnessTV Canada to promote C.R.E.E.R to the French Canadian community.

Chrystel Tano, GoodnessTV
Chrystel Tano, GoodnessTV

 

All in all, 2015 is set to be a great year and will see the whole operation be able to start.  We would like to thank friends and supporters for all their help and assistance since we started in 2010!

 

 

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