WEs we like - Written by on Monday, March 16, 2009 16:01 - 5 Comments

If WE are connected and if WE care, WE can help!

A few weeks ago I sent a facebook message to Solana Larson, global voices online, and asked her if they have contact to some bloggers in Benin. Solana immediately forwarded the message to David Sasaki, head of rising voices, whom I also know. David connected me with Xeni Jardin, who was at that time in Benin and still is. Xeni and I don’t know each other. Yesterday morning we’ve met virtually.

It was early in the morning in Austin, TX., 6 am. I was still lying in bed, jetlagged, I was checking email when suddenly Xeni’s mail popped up. She was (and still is) in Cotonou, Benin, working on the PASIF projects, and doing some documentary work for Boing Boing Video. A great conversation started. First via mail, then SKYPE chat.

At the end of our conversation an important new part to our trip to Benin was added – besides contacting and helping Tim’s (my son’s) family – we now have outside Cotonou – a very precise starting point. We have a driver/fixer/translator Salifou who will bring us in rural areas. He knows where and how to help. He will be – besides the family – our contact to the local people. He speaks 15 (!) languages, but cannot read and write.

For us – one of the most important things is – to get in touch with reliable locals in order to “plant” real help. Salifou is living in the northern part of Benin, close to the border of Togo. Here is a qoute from Xeni’s mail:

If you are looking for specific communities to connect with, I can also point you to the village where my father and I are doing similarly grassroots development/self-sustainability/educational support work. They’re very well organized, with good leaders in place who understand the principles of ethics and organizing, and oh my god, would they ever appreciate the laptops! They’d know what to do.

Here is Salifou in the village, holding his cousin Dramani’s newborn twin boys:


(picture from Xeni).

I can’t wait to meet him!

This beautiful story is a great example of our life in a connected world. A connected world based on trust and reputation! It hopefully will be the start of an amazing journey down the roads of Benin. I am sure we will find more people like Salifou, where we can rely on and build from there new connections which bring help to one of the poorest countries in the world.

Thanks Xeni! Thanks David! Thanks Solana!

And please help!


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Timo Heuer
Mar 18, 2009 13:52

I totally fell in love with the idea and Ulrike, you and your team will rock this and do it great! I gladly support you and the project in every way I can.

Frank Hamm
Mar 20, 2009 20:07

Ich wünsche Euch für Euren Trip alles Gute und viel Erfolg!

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