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Benin - Rights of Children and Adolescents, in support of "vidomegon"

20 November 2017

(ANS - Cotonou) - They are called "vidomegon", and they are a legacy of a colonial custom; in the past, young girls were entrusted by rural households to a tutor to ensure the girls a better education. Today, they are often young slaves sold by the poorest families and employed as low-cost laborers. On the United Nation's Universal Children's Day, celebrated November 20, the entire Salesian Family is committed to reminding everyone that there is still much work to be done to enforce the rights of minors.

Vidomegons are victims of psychological and physical violence of all kinds. They live their childhood by working in private homes and, especially, in markets where the vidomegon spend their lives working day and night, sleeping under benches, exploited, exposed, abused in the most complete promiscuity.

The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA) have been active in the Dantokpa market in Cotonou, Benin, since 2001, where they have been uninterruptedly working for the reintegration of the vidomegon into society and their families of origin. The first step in this long journey takes place right in the market, at "Barra Vidomegon", a shelter where working girls can rest, ask for help, find a moment of rest through participation in recreational activities.

Now the sisters intend to give rise to another center of first reception near Dantokpa: a dormitory capable of accommodating 70 girls during the night.

The project involves the construction of a new building at the “Maison de l'Esperance”, a formation center for girls who have already begun to change their lives. The main objective of the initiative is to provide young girls with a place where they can sleep in total safety, but also to raise awareness and provide support activities. In fact, in addition to offering comfortable mattresses to sleep on, the girls will be followed by a psychologist and an assistant who will help them to overcome the traumas suffered and, especially, help them gain a better life on their way to becoming bakers, cooks, pastry makers ...

Fundamental to this path of growth and social reintegration is the role of girls already attending the Maison de l'Espérance, those who have left their lives as slaves behind: they are called to support and accompany the new young girls who will be welcomed at the dormitory, in a virtuous circle of growth and emancipation.

More information is available on the "Don Bosco Missions" website.

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