Grand opening in Dakar

The grand opening celebration for the first apartment in what was formerly the slum of Baraka in Dakar…

24 January 2019 was a great day for the population of the slum of Baraka in Liberté VI, in the heart of Senegal’s capital Dakar. The first of 260 apartments was presented to the public in presence of the H.E. Prime Minister Mohamed Ben Abdallah Dionne, H.E. the Minister of Urbanism, Diénne Farba Sarr and H.E. the Minister of Infrastructure Abdoulaye Daouda Diallo.

For more then 10 years, UNESCO Special Ambassador Dr. Ute Ohoven, YOU Foundation-Education for Children in Need and HOPE’87 are supporting the people of Baraka. This shanty town started to exist some 25 years ago when IDPs and refugees settled on what used to be empty land and constructed with wooden and corrugated iron huts. Since then, Dakar grew and with the time surrounded the slum with nice middle-class houses. Tensions started to erupt between the neighbours and the dwellers of Baraka, and the bulldozers were called many times. It is thanks to the relentless efforts of Dr. Ohoven, who committed herself where she could and advocated at each new president of the Republic for the right to stay of the landless.

In H.E. Macky Sall, President of Senegal, she found an understanding comrade-in-arms for the protection of the rights of all people. And then it went very quickly; the land was declared of public use. German architecture students and their professors developed the first high-quality house models inspired by the African landscape. The Ministry for Urbanism issued the building permit for 11 new buildings with 3 to 4 stories. Then, on 24 January, the big day came: the first apartment was presented to the public! Of course, this would not have been possible without a great partner in the construction sector, Mr. Samih Sawriris and his worldwide known enterprise CasaOrascom.

The population couldn’t care less about all this background information. They only had one wish: to celebrate! And so they did with drums, songs, megaphones and dancing.

After the colourful event, the President of the Republic of Senegal, H.E. Macky Sall, received the delegation, composed of UNESCO Special Ambassador Dr. Ute Ohoven, Ms. Claudia Jerger (Vice President of the YOU Foundation-Education for Children in Need), Mr. Abdelrazak Louati (International Advisor to the YOU Foundation), Mr. Samih Sawiris (owner of CasaOrascom), HOPE’87 Secretary General Robert Ottitsch, Mr. Michale Schmeiser (Chargé d’affaires  of the Austrian Embassy), Mr. Papis Loveday and the German doctors Ms. Johanna van Straelen and Ms. Leonie Schneider.

The President expressed his gratitude and showed his satisfaction with the development of the programme “Cité Baraka”, which also includes educational, technical training and income generating projects.

By the end of August 2019, half of the population of Baraka, i.e. about 600 people will move into the new buildings. By 2020 the construction of this new district, with green areas, shops, a market, a dental clinic and a community center will be completed; surely with an even bigger celebration!