CRS Work in Benin
Limited access to education, health care and nutrition continue to impede Benin’s development. For nearly 50 years, Catholic Relief Services' programs have worked to lift families out of poverty and help them build healthy lives and strong livelihoods.
Children, especially girls, face many cultural and economic barriers to education. CRS works with parent-teacher associations, establishes school feeding programs, and organizes training for teachers. CRS also provides health education and deworming treatment, and assists communities in school improvement projects. CRS' nonformal education program helps the Caritas Vocational Training Centers provide support for children, particularly girls recovered from trafficking or who are at risk of being trafficked.
Since 1995, CRS, in partnership with Caritas Benin, has provided care and support to people who are HIV-positive. The project provides medical care, including antiretroviral therapy, nutritional support and vocational training. This was the first project to provide social and emotional support to HIV patients in Benin. The program now helps caregivers of orphaned and needy children find ways to earn a living.
To increase understanding of human rights and responsibilities, CRS works with six diocesan partners. Radio broadcasts, discussion groups, legal counseling, conflict resolution and prevention, and human-rights training all focus on building and maintaining peaceful communities.
Savings and internal lending communities (SILC) provide communities without access to formal financial services a place to save money and obtain loans. Through the SILC, women can access money to start and expand their small businesses. SILC help families build strong economic foundations. Each group is self-selected and determines meeting schedules, minimum deposits and a fixed interest rate for borrowing funds. Currently, CRS is implementing a SILC project in two Benin dioceses. The project has reached 5,000 clients, and as of June 2007, members have saved nearly $25,000. A total of $19,300 has been given in loans.