Rogers, which has logistics and travel interests in Madagascar, is one of the supporters of the Fondation des maisons chaleureuses, which collects funds to support Henri Cohen Solal in Jerusalem and Fr Pedro in Madagascar with their work helping people in need.

Jeunghun Wang, winner of the second AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open
photos : csbo | rogers image bank

The French educator and psychoanalyst, Henri Cohen Solal, and Fr Pedro Opeka have received international recognition for the work they have been doing for several decades. They met up again in Mauritius last May at the Chateau de Labourdonnais’ restaurant during a reception organised by the Fondation des maisons chaleureuses (Warm Houses Foundation), attended by the Mauritian President, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim. The function, to which Rogers’ CEO, Philippe Espitalier-Noël, was also invited, was in aid of their work, which reaches out to hundreds of youngsters and families affected by poverty and violence.

Set up in 2013, the foundation supports the Warm House projects set up since 1972 by Henri Cohen Solal to serve as anchor points enabling teenagers from so-called problem areas to escape from feelings of abandon, exclusion and being lost, as well as those of the Association Akamasoa (Good Friends Association). The latter was set up in 1989 by Fr Pedro to help families who were living in the garbage dumps of Antananarivo. “They’re two different worlds,” Henri Cohen Solal says, “but they face the same struggle.”

“Our efforts involve concrete action against the violence and poverty in Madagascar and the violence that comes from hate and social breakdown in Jerusalem,” explains Nicolas Weiss, initiator with his counterpart in Paris,Jean Arvis, of Maisons Chaleureuses fundraising events. “In combining forces, we are responding to  these two extraordinary people who are working together to build a more equitable world.”

The foundation seeks to open Maisons Chaleureuses in Mauritius and contribute to the training of educators for centres working with street children. “We’ve met a number of major donors who’ve been very helpful and now we’re going to activate the political lever to progress the project.”

The maisons chaleureuses operate three types of set-up – prevention clubs, youth and culture centres and recovery clubs which aim to rebuild social ties after a long period of hospitalisation. In the youth centres, and especially those taking in youngsters from the streets, they focus on four basic principles: independence, creativity, security and no exclusion.

Dozens of Maisons Chaleureuses exist on several continents, hundreds of educators have been trained in the association’s ways of working and thousands of youngsters given protection. Research programmes have also been set up in collaboration with a dozen universities through the Collège Doctoral Paris-Jérusalem, an interdisciplinary research centre.

These houses form a collective focused on life and society, giving reassurance to the youngsters concerned. They are also involved with interculturality, learning how to live together, to tolerate and like each other. As Henri Cohen Solal asserts, “All decisions are taken jointly so that the youngsters get used to being autonomous, to take on responsibility for themselves, rather than letting others look after them.”

Henri Cohen Solal.

Supporting the foundation

Gifts to the Fondation des maisons chaleureuses Fondation de France are a way of helping to support the activities of Fr Pedro and Henri Cohen Solal. Donations are divided equally between the Association Akamasoa and the Association ADMIS, which finances the Beit Esther (open house, open heart) projects led by Henri Cohen Solal.

Donations can be sent by cheque to the Fondation de France, which houses the Fondation des maisons chaleureuses. This way gifts are tripled for those who pay French income tax. Gifts in kind such as rice, medication and hospital beds, are also important, especially for Akamasoa. Some major donors are also reached by word of mouth. Nicolas Weiss says that “the largest donor of all time to the Foundation is a Mauritian.”

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