The final phase in Dakar has begun: Soon, excavators and construction materials will occupy the dusty clearing that until now has been used as a soccer field by children. “Since more than 20 years, I know this slum and its refugees. It was high time to put an end to their poverty and to provide an alternative to perilous attempts to reach European shores by boat. perilous boats,” says Ute-Henriette Ohoven, founder of the “YOU Foundation – Education for Children in Need” and driving force of the project “Baraka – from Slum to Modern Neighborhood.”
„It is an atrocity how human trafficers sell death to refugees while the world is watching. This brutal business is absolute madness and I am fighting it with all my strength,” says Ute-Henriette Ohoven. For many years she has been trying to improve the lifes of more than 2000 intra-African refugees by introducing small changes such as the construction of a school and a well.
At the end of 2014, she finally decided to end the lack of perspective for the slum residents. Baraka is being transformed into a place with a future. Step by step, modern residential buildings, a kindergarten and a health station are erected. Shops, garages and start-ups provide work, vocational training and support the local economy. A services sector can develop, the inhabitants can earn a living and are able to live with dignity – and assume all associated rights and obligations.
The thorough planning ends with the approval for the transformation of Baraka. Ute Ohoven and her daughter invested many months of organization and engaged in numerous conversations with the government of Senegal, architects and sponsors.
The approval and the trust of the residents are a key ingredient for the ultimate success of the Baraka project. Ms. Ohoven, who is called “MamaBlond” by everybody in the slum and who has earned the trust of its residents, says: “I gave the people in Baraka my word. Now, we will make good on our promise to end their misery.”