The idea of building DANNOU’s Health Centre came about in November 2012, when a delegation of French Vincentians visited a SSVP Conference in DANNOU (Benin). On a dirt road, they met a woman from DANNOU trying to make it to a maternity centre some 15 km away. She was moaning desperately with pain, and her motorbike had broken down. The delegation members were shocked to see this and realized there was no health facility in the area. So they decided it would be a good idea to build a health centre in DANNOU, which was welcomed by the parish priest and members of the local conference. However, it was only an idea for over 5 years…
It was not until 2017 that the project really took off. Thanks to the joint efforts of French counterparts, members of the International Commission and the CGI, as well as members of Benin’s National Council and the support of local expertise on technical legal and financial issues, a budget of 51,100€ was approved in December by the CNF. Allocations were made for each of the four execution phases of the project. The first stone was laid on 10 January 2018 by his Excellency Mgr Aristide Gonsallo who, actively engaged with Benin’s National Council, committed to ensuring permanent health care staff for a smooth running of the health centre. It was a very festive day in DANNOU. The construction work, expected to take 6 months, was completed in only 4 months, and the completion date was late May 2018 to the great satisfaction of all the stakeholders involved.
It was then that other issues came up, such as the need for medical and non-medical equipment for the Centre, not provided for in the first budget. So the search for more funding began, and a new budget of 14,265€ was granted by the CGI. Then came the issue of providing housing for health care staff; in other words, the Religious Sisters of the Vincentian Family. Congratulations to his Excellency Mgr Aristide GONSALLO and Father Dansou, DANNOU’s parish priest for undertaking this project that was completed with an extra budget of 5,000€ granted by the International Commission upon request.
It was some time before the Centre opened due to reforms being made by the Ministry of Health. Finally, DANNOU’s Frédéric Ozanam Health Centre was officially registered and opened its doors to the public on 26 September 2019. Despite not having a separate delivery room (doing well though), they attend deliveries and register births. Their first baby was a boy called Y. B. Fréderic, born on 23 July 2020.
This wonderful work resulted from the efforts made by a team of committed experts, driven by Vincentian love. Some of whom are listed below:
- His Excellency Mgr Aristide GONSALLO
- Our French colleagues and members of the International Commission of France’s SSVP National Council
- CGI members at various levels
- SSVP National Council’s members in Benin
- DANNOU’s community and that of the parish
- Morbihan’s Departmental Council
- The Rotary Club from Eguilles (Bouches du Rhônequiva), who provided medical equipment. (COVID-19 pandemic has hindered its shipment for the time being)
- A donor from the Annecy region.
We are very pleased with the completion of this major project. A goal, though, is to be accomplished: Adequate medical equipment/supplies to be provided to the Centre, in compliance with the standards laid down by the Ministry of Health for this type of building, thus providing health care for the poor. To this end, a regular financial grant is required, as well as contributions made by stakeholders to cover salary costs and, above all, the supply of essential medicines.