Dar El Beida is a peri-urban neighborhood in the commune of El Mina in Nouakchott, which has a population of 7,000 people. Sidi Mohamed is a 37-year-old Koranic teacher who is a prominent figure in the community. He teaches a hundred children aged three to six every day from 8 am to 12 pm, and then again in the afternoon.
In 2016, during the implementation of World Vision sponsorship projects, Sidi met with the organisation's agents who came to his community to raise awareness and recruit children. He has been trained in sponsorship, protection, advocacy and the Citizen Voice and Action (CVA) approach. He is part of a Community Development Centre (CDC) committee and is appointed as the CVA officer. He sensitizes his community and speaks with the authorities on child protection, health, parents and school follow-up. In addition to this, he has done two trainings through World Vision's Faith & Development (F&D) project.
He notices that his training in violence against children (VAC) and the Celebrating Families approach (CFC) have really changed his life. Before, he wasn't interested in what was happening in the community, because he thought that only local elected officials, the town hall and the State should deal with this kind of business and that he had no say in the matter. Today, thanks to the different trainings he had to participate in, he says "I know my rights and duties as a citizen, as an educator, as a member of the community of Dar el Beida, and as a father."
For Sidi, the discovery of the CFC tool during a training in 2016 marked a turning point in his life. This training aims to equip families to create a healthy and loving environment for the well-being of children and the search for happiness among families. The approach is based on these precious concepts: creating a framework of love and grace, and finding seeds of kindness, opportunities to forgive, and reasons for thanksgiving. They guide families to the fullness of life by focusing on four parts of the journey: examining the past, acknowledging the present, envisioning the future, and pursuing dreams. The hope is to start with a generation of fullness of life and favour, and to break the cycle of brokenness and poverty in all its aspects within families.
"I have always loved children, but I was hard and demanding with them because I believed that the best education for them was through discipline and respect. As a result, the children feared me and did not laugh with me. I didn't understand why. After the training and the understanding of the modules, I questioned my attitude and my way of behaving towards the children and my family. I learned that my religion prohibits such practices and instead demands that we put children at the centre of everything, that we express our love and cherish them. Celebrating Families has helped our community reconsider our religious principles regarding the place of the child and the family."
Sidi has not only positively changed the way he interacts with children and family members, but he has also seen how this has metamorphosed the relationship of children with adults in his community. "In talking with community members we are pleasantly surprised to see how the children seem more fulfilled, more cheerful. They confide in us more and ask us more questions. We feel that they trust us more and don't hesitate to share their worries and fears with us, when before this was not even possible. What struck me in what I learned is that the focus is on the family, not the child only, and not just the parents."
He concludes by adding: "It is an attempt to support the basic unit of society, which in many ways is the foundation of love and charity. In many cases, this foundation will be both children and parents. But in some situations the basic unit will be any group of people who provide love and charity to children in the context of cultivating relationships. Today this is what we have managed to do in our community."