Pauline Lizion arrived in Ivory Coast in October 2011 to join Handicap International’s teams in Toulepleu, a region particularly badly hit by fighting. “Most of the houses had been destroyed and pillaged, then often set on fire. I sometimes felt I’d arrived in a ghost village,” she explains. During her five-month mission, Pauline managed the distribution of resettlement kits to help the inhabitants of the Toulepleu region to gradually return to their villages.
“The scale of the destruction hit me immediately. One of the first images that comes to mind is the house of one of the beneficiaries that had been completely burnt down. The roof was reduced to ashes and the walls still bore the traces of the flames. She told us how her husband had been killed and burnt in front of her eyes with their child’s clothes. The violence was so extreme it’s hard to grasp.” Today, this woman is living with her husband’s second wife and they have both benefitted from Handicap International’s assistance to resettle in their village.
“Like this woman, a lot of people in Ivory Coast have lost everything in the fighting. We’re working at their side to help them return to their villages and rebuild their lives. The 2000 kits distributed by Handicap International should enable the same number of families to repair their homes, and provide them with cooking utensils and something to wash with.” The organisation has also distributed 1500 additional kits to people with specific needs (people with reduced mobility, pregnant women, older people, etc.) to improve their day-to-day comfort. These additional kits contain jerrycans, loincloths, mattresses, mosquito nets, sheets and floor mats.
Lastly each of the 31 villages in which the organisation is present has been supplied with tools (wheelbarrows, shovels, saws, etc.) for use by the community. “In Toulepleu, we feel that the population is moving in a positive direction. Everyone is determined to rebuild the region and little by little people are returning and getting their lives back to normal.”