The Maison des Esclaves / House of Hope video
Please Note: due to political conditions in Mauritania, notably the arrest of anti-slavery activists & heavy prison sentences meted out, Our Maison des Esclaves is now on hold indefinitely.
Our Maison des esclaves – House of Hope – House of Refuge project was conceived in September and October of 2014. In November 2014 many IRA members were arrested outside of Rosso because of peaceful anti-slavery activities. Those arrests have occupied a lot of our time and attention in the subsequent months. Today, as I write this, an appeals hearing is supposed to take place in Aleg, Mauritanie. This appeal is for Biram Dah Abeid and Brahim Bilal Ramdhane as they seek to have vacated a two year prison sentence handed down in Rosso in January 2015. You can read about all that on our blog and on Facebook page: IRA – United States.
Here I want to explain our Maison des esclaves project and how we are moving forward to realize this project despite the on-going imprisonment of IRA leaders Biram and Brahim.
The project calls for building an actual home for refugees from slavery and for ex-slaves seeking to establish new lives. Leaving slavery in Mauritania is extremely difficult. The police and judicial system are against you. You own family is often against you. I’ve met ex-slaves who have told me how their own mother or aunt beat them into submission, so that they would accept slavery.
Despite this horrible coercion to accept slavery, some do escape. Bilal, when he escaped, found the help of IRA – Mauritanie to liberate his sister. Finally his mother found the courage to defy her master and leave slavery.
We see a new Mauritania, a Mauritania were everyone has the rights of full citizenship. A Mauritania were no one responds to the name, “slave.”
Our Maison des esclaves will help build this new Mauritania by welcoming escaped slaves and ex-slaves, providing them with a safe and supportive home while they learn how to live in freedom, and providing education and cultural services for the wider ex-slave population of Nouakchott.
We, IRA – USA and IRA – Mauritanie, will work together to build a Maison des esclaves in Nouakchott Mauritania. This refuge for escaped slaves and ex-slaves will provide on-site housing for about thirty people, and will provide life-skills and cultural educational programs.
Our budget is broken into two distinct phases. We are now in Phase One.
Fund-raising for land purchase and construction planning
Our fund-raising goals are sub-divided into 1) land purchase and 2) construction.
1) We will purchase land in Nouakchott for the Maison des esclaves as soon as we have raised sufficient funds. Land prices in Nouakchott fluctuate. At this time (August 2015), the land we need costs $30,000. When we have raised that amount we will begin the purchase transaction. Economic conditions at that time will determine if those funds meet, exceed, or fall short of our needs. If we have more money than needed for land purchase, those donations will go directly to construction costs.
2) Construction of the house will begin as soon as possible following purchase of the land. We will begin construction and continue to fund it on a continual basis. Once the land has been purchased we will publish a detailed budget for construction along with a schedule for construction. We estimate construction costs at $120,000.
Donors of $35 or more will receive the ebook: Mauritania Look 2015, a picture-based chronicle of the fight for human rights in Mauritania.
Donors of $250 – $999: will be listed on a commemorative plaque at the Maison.
Donors of at least $1,000: can elect to have their name inscribed on an individual commemorative brick at the Maison des esclaves
Donors of $10,000 or more: Can name a room or a service program at the Maison des esclaves and will be invited to attend an opening ceremony of the Maison.
Phase Two: opening the building, welcoming the new residents and providing the educational and cultural services