"Vie et Culture" is a Beninese music group that composes songs to create awareness for social problems in their country, the Republic of Benin. With the support of the German NPO "Bildungswerk Westafrika" and the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development the songs "All girls to school" and "This is not good" (a song that talks about the problems plastic is causing in different sectors of life) were created and put on air in Benin by the help of TV channels , which helped to promote 1) the enrollment of girls in the educational sector and 2) the use of cloth bags or other biodegradable bags for shopping.
"Vie et Culture" is having a wide repertory of songs that were never registered due to lack of financial funds and now risk to get lost. The songs being sung in Fon, Aiso , and Yoruba follow traditional rhythms. European friends who visited Benin and heard the music group play, liked the songs and rhythms very much. They asked "Vie et Culture" to create DVDs with video clips to help preserve the songs. Thus the music group decided to register a first album of 6 songs: Egbe hove hu (Life is difficult) This is the song of a father who tried all his best to send his son to school or to make him learn a job. The son refused to learn. The father begged his son, beat him, called for a family reunion. But the son refused to listen. Finally the son grew up and married, but cannot feed his wife and children. The father is asking himself whether he has to continue to feed this grown son all along with his wife and children and finally answers for himself:"No". His son created his own suffering and is responsible for the difficulties in his life. Deji do klunon jo (Trust in God) This song talks about how people change and that it is difficult to trust them. But there is someone who never changes: God. That is why we should put all our trust in him. Bolo nu nonzoto wa (Stretch out your hand to your neighbor) This song tells that we human beings do not know the future of another person. Somebody we consider low, might become famous. We should not expect benefit before we help somebody. As Jesus told us: "When I was hungry, you did not feed me. When I was naked, you did not cover me. When I was in prison, you did not visit me. But remember: What you have done to the least of you, you have done to me." Mibo wa j'aya (Come and join in our happiness) Whatever difficulty might happen to us in life, we should not forget that God is watching and protecting us. He will be there to hold his hands above us, when we need it most, and help us to overcome the difficulties and finally reach happiness. That is why we ask everyone to join in our happiness and praise the Lord. Yen ojo yen de (I put myself into your hands) We should be aware of our limited powers. The ways of God are miraculous. But this should not created laziness in us. If we struggle continuously,God will help us to achieve our goals. Don't give up to make efforts and thus, put yourself into the hands of God. (A song to fight the easy way of saying "God will do" without making effort.) Nmaton asagbe (i am not here for your thighs) This is a song to warn about easily giving into the sweetness of love. As the singer tells a lady, that he came to sing, but not to make love to her. He warns about AIDS and he encourages those, who have already contracted the disease, to be honest with partners and to follow up with treatment in order to prolong life and enhance its quality as much as possible.
"Vie et Culture" started to register these songs at a studio but they are lacking funds to continue and the project is put to a halt. I would be more than happy if any and all help could be offered to their endeavor.
The leader and main singer of "Vie et Culture", Mr. Benoit Ahlonsou, is at the same time the president of the NPO "Ecole de Solidarite", which is the Beninese partner organization of the German NPO "Bildungswerk Westafrika". Mr Ahlonsou is putting all his energy into the promotion of education in the rural areas of his country and does not shy away from any effort to enhance its development.
The main activities of the twin-organizations "Ecole de Solidarite" and "Bildungswerk Westafrike" are 1. to help raise a sens for common activities by joining hands for one common goal. Together we construct solid school buildings for schools, where children learn in simple shelters and are left to rain during the rainy season. 2. to offer sponsorships to gifted youngsters of poor families. 3. to improve the quality of life for handicapped children by operating them. This is done in partnership with the German NPO "Help-wir helfen".
Every member of the music group has a job on hand: painters, carpenters, electricians, mechanics. But their private dream has always been to sing and to make music. In a society where the "daily bread" is no casualness, it is difficult to live on art. Sponsorships and grants are rare in a country that is fighting to meet basic needs.
This is why I decided to look for support from friends and all persons who like African rhythms. I beg you, help the miracle happen and give "Vie et Culture" a chance to succeed in registering their first album after so many years of existence since the group was created. The songs will then be published on YouTube as for all of you to be able to enjoy the fruits of your help.
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Transfer of the funds: Since I am living usually in the Republic of Benin, I have two bank accounts, one in Germany and one in the Republic of Benin.
The account in Germany is a savings account. I have no regular income in Germany, a fact that does not allow me to have a checking account. My savings account can accept money transfer. The account is with the Volksbank Erft eG at Gladbacher Str. 78 in 50189 Elsdorf. My address in Germany is with my friends with who I use to stay when living in Germany: C/o Rieve, Neue Bergstr.7, 50181 Bedburg. This is the address to where I receive mail. My address in Benin is: Maison (House) Toda, Quartier (District) Zoundja, Commune (city) Abomey-Calavi.
Since I am not employed in Germany I have no tax ID. The account in Benin is with the Bank of Africa in Abomey-Calavi.
Once the funds will arrive to my account in Germany, I will ask the bank to transfer them to my bank account in Benin, where I will pick the funds and hand them over to "Vie et Culture" so they will be able to pay the studio and recording fees.
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About the fundraiser Astrid Toda: My full name is Marlis Astrid Simone Toda, but I am using the middle name in every day life.
I am the founder of the 2 NPOs, in Germany "Bildungswerk Westafrika e.V." and in Benin "Ecole de Solidarite".
In 1993 I first came to West Africa as the wife of a Japanese diplomat. While staying in Lagos I started to do voluntary work in the girls' remand home at Idiaraba. My experience with these girls pushed me to give up my privileged life. I was convinced that education was the only way out of misery. I started to construct solid school buildings for children who study in shelters made of palm branches. In these shelters they are not protected during the rainy season and have to stay home. The loss of courses and lessons hinders the children to be successful in their exams.
The first school was opened 25 years ago in Lagos, Makoko Water side, which was constructed for economic refugees of the Republic of Benin. After the military coup of Sani Abacha life became difficult in Nigeria. The inhabitants of Makoko Waterside asked me to leave and to settle in their home country. 1996 I made the move and since then am living in the Republic of Benin,
The work of 25 years : 40 projects – 62 school buildings – 192 classrooms – 14.960 places for students added up by 1 health center and 1 study hall
25 children have been and are sponsored by private sponsors, 5 to learn handcrafts through on the job training, 20 in our program for gifted children of poor families.
New program: in case of physically handicapped children, the disability is surgically eliminated or alleviated in cooperation with the German NPO "Help- We Helfen e.V.".
I am very grateful to my teams in Germany and in the Republic of Benin, because all these successful projects could not be done by myself alone. A special thank you goes to Mr Wolfgang Rieve (the ex-president of the "Bildungswerk Westafrika") and his wife Margareta, Mr. Heinz Theo Kaemmerling (the present president of the Bildungswerk Westafrika) and his wife Gabriele, Mr. Benoit Ahlonsou (the president of "Ecole de Solidarite"), and all our friends who support and trust us for so many years. Here in Benin Mr. Benoit Ahlonsou offers steadfast advice to guide the projects and whenever difficulties seem to block them, he is the one to find solutions and to push on.
Our school constructions are financed up to 75 % by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. To obtain this financial support the German Government requires the cooperation of a German NPO with a Beninese NPO. Thus the "Bildungswerk Westafrika" is a purely German NPO with its partner "Ecole de Solidarite" in Benin.