Francois’ Story | Promoting Sustainable Development through Central Committees

Here at Haven, we organised our first Build It Week in 2009, bringing 273  volunteers to the community of Ouanaminthe to construct 100 homes in just over a week.

Since then, more homes and resources have been built in the community.  Francois’s story shows the impact that this has made.


Francois Mathias has been living at a Haven-constructed site in Bas Dillaire, on the outskirts of the city of Ouanaminthe, for several years.  He is the principal of a municipal primary school in Ouanaminthe; the whole school has a total of 600-700 students.  He has a domestic partner, Vincent Guerline, and three young children.

Following an election which took place for a new Site Management (Central) Committee in December 2011, Francois was voted in as its Vice-President and is now a key leader on site.  Haven constructed a total of 198 new houses and a community centre on site, and worked with the community to develop systems for solar panel energy to each household and constant water supply.

Our Community Development Office, Nadine Raphael, worked closely with the Central Committee since its establishment.  She worked with the members to facilitate communication between the Central Committee and the general community, and to help its members to understand their responsibilities.  All of the work undertaken prepared the community for our impending departure from the site.

Francois feels that the new Central Committee is working very well, and that there is good collaboration between the community and the Committee.  According to him, the new Committee is aware of all the issues to be dealt with on the site, and is working to build trust and promote participation of residents.  This is the core of sustainable development work: helping people to help themselves.

The site is now cleaner and the community is participating in many site management activities, with the support of the Committee.  The community is more empowered, and people are happier because they know what is going on in their community and are part of the development process.  The community still has some issues with access to education and livelihoods, but it is in a much better position to start addressing these issues themselves.

The Committee benefits from moral support, assistance with networking with other service providers, and more management and community development training, especially in conflict management.  All in all, the community members feel that the future is bright and they are happy that the management of the site is in the hands of people they respect and trust.

From here, we are confident they will continue to go from strength to strength!

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