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AJAN Director’s Inspiring Visit to the Centre de Recherche d’Etude et de Créativité in Benin

On April 19, 2024, Father Ismaël MATAMBURA SJ., the Director of AJAN (African Jesuit AIDS Network), arrived in Benin to visit the Jesuit community in Cotonou. This visit, far from being a leisurely break, was part of his scheduled tour of Jesuit centers within the AJAN Network, including the Centre de Recherche d’Etude et de Créativité (CREC) in Cotonou, Benin.

Father Ismaël’s visit to CREC spanned three days: structured into three stages. Upon arrival and settling into the Jesuit Fathers’ community, Father Ismaël had an extensive discussion with Father Eugène GOUSSIKINDEY, SJ., CREC’s Director. Their conversation delved into the origins and relevance of CREC, evaluating the collaboration between CREC and AJAN, and exploring future possibilities to strengthen this partnership. They also discussed how CREC could better integrate AJAN’s vision into its activities and the type of collaboration both institutions should aim for.

Fr. Ismaël MATAMBURA SJ. together with Social Entrepreneurship training trainees

Engaging with CREC’s Library and Social Issues

In the latter part of Friday, Father Ismaël met with the Head of the CREC Library. They discussed the current services offered to library users and explored avenues for improved collaboration. This discussion was followed by a guided tour of the library, including its reading room, bookstore, management software, and associated offices and services.

The CREC Library which houses a number of Books used for references by the students and community around.

After a restful Sunday, the visit resumed on Monday, April 22, with a meeting between Father Ismaël and the Head of Social Issues at CREC. They reviewed the social issues addressed by CREC historically, in the present, and in the future, assessing potential for closer collaboration with AJAN. This meeting birthed the idea of reviving the “AHAPPY Generation” Program.

Immersive Experiences and New Initiatives

Father Ismaël’s first activity at CREC was participating in an English course, where he engaged with the learners. This interaction was highly enriching for both the students and the Director, who was impressed by the classroom’s homogeneity.

Saturday’s activities included training sessions in social entrepreneurship. Father Ismaël interacted with trainees, addressing their questions and appreciating the work of both the trainers and trainees.

One notable highlight of the visit was the CRECLAB (FabLab) project. The FabLab project is a laboratory for manufacturing and modeling from a 3D printer or laser cutting. Father Ismaël discussed this project with Cyrille, Fr. Eugène Goussikindey SJ., and Fr. Maurice via videoconference from Icam Paris. This meeting provided a close look at CREC’s innovative future, aligning with AJAN’s vision of equipping young and vulnerable individuals with practical skills. The discussions opened up several collaborative opportunities.

Fr. Ismael Matambura during a visit to the CRECLAB (FabLab) project where he was able to to check out the new 3D Printers.

Some of the materials produced by the young people at CREC in Benin using the 3D Printer.

Supporting Future Generations

Another key activity was Father Ismaël’s visit to support classes, where he interacted with 3rd and Tle D students. He visited the classes where these courses are given and thanks to the generosity of the teachers, he was granted a moment of interview with the students. His interview with the young people was mainly focused on the “AHAPPY Generation” Project for A happy youth and Beninese generation. The students were enthusiastic about the concept, showing great interest in its potential benefits.

Father Ismaël’s visit to support classes, where he interacted with 3rd and Tle D students

Concluding the Visit with Community Engagement

Sunday, a day of rest at CREC, saw Fr. Ismaël participating in community activities with the Jesuit Fathers of Cotonou, including a monthly recollection, confessions, and Mass. On Monday, April 22, he visited local tourist sites with Fr. Joël, followed by a community Mass and a convivial exchange with community members. During this time, Fr. Ismaël shared AJAN’s mission and expressed gratitude for the visit’s organization, wishing CREC continued progress and enhanced collaboration with AJAN.

Fr. Ismaël MATAMBURA SJ’s visit was a significant step towards fostering stronger ties between AJAN and CREC, highlighting the importance of collaboration in addressing social issues and empowering future generations.

By, Cyrille TSAGUE, Sj.

Ismael Matambura



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