More than an association, Wallah We Can provides a conducive environment to the education of children. Founded by Lotfi Hamadi, a Tunisian trained in France before returning home, the organization brings together Tunisians from all walks of life and wants to take up the school challenge.
If Makthar, a town in northwestern Tunisia, was once home to a major Numidian city, which during the reign of King Massinissa enjoyed a certain prosperity as shown by archaeological sites, today it embodies poverty, despair and ruins … «Some companies have established in the industrial area but the city lacks everything,» said a member of the local council. «Our young people, without any future prospect, are deserting the city …» Yet, like so many others, they were among the first to rise up and participate in the popular movement that led to the fall of the dictatorship in 2011. Since then, democracy has established, but the city, like the region, is among the most deprived of the country, forgotten by the central power.
For the autonomy of schools
That said, the city has not been forgotten by all. A group of young people, apolitical, from all walks of life, are gathered in the association Wallah we Can. For several years now, they have been carrying out a revolutionary project!
On their list of successes, a pilot project carried out in a boarding school of the city which produces its own energy, thanks to solar panels provided by the association, and feeds itself thanks to a vegetable garden maintained by the students themselves who have benefited from a training provided by agronomy students. «The goal is to invent new mechanisms that will make our schools autonomous, » explains Lotfi Hamadi.
Repeating the slogan that elects Barack Obama, in the Tunisian style the Tunisian sauce, Wallah We Can is more than an association: it proposes a way to involve civil society in the future of the nation, investing in what it has more precious: youth.
This initiative is led by Lotfi Hamadi. After studying in France, and several years in Canada, he made the choice to return in 2011, in the context of the revolution, to make his contribution to the construction of the young Tunisian democracy. «I’ve had defeats, like others. Because often people in the diaspora choose the easy way of humanitarian assistance. The idea is rather, while staying in their host country, they let their country origin benefit from their expertise. We must get out of short termism, to go in the long term. »
This philosophy he brings together Tunisians from all walks of life, from here or elsewhere, and mobilizes for projects that children are the main beneficiaries. «I come from a modest background. My father was a brick-layer, my mother a housekeeper. Both are illiterate. But, I was able to succeed because I grew up in a country, France in this case, where the school still offers a certain equality of opportunity. Tunisians must understand that education must be the priority in a country even if very indebted. We must guarantee a bubble to students, to children, it is possible. The most important thing is to offer each child the opportunity to blossom. »
«It’s not about replacing the state but rather of proposing alternatives»
For this, the association targeted the boarding schools. Places where the association can meet the needs of children by creating an ecosystem where they will blossom. «In Makhtar, for example, the boarding school that we support, produces its own energy, thanks to solar panels, it is fed by a vegetable garden maintained by the students themselves, trained by agronomists. It is not a question of replacing the state but rather of proposing alternatives ».
At the heart of the concerns of the association, the health of students and, first place, those of girls. «Access to health is a right, but above all, one of the first sources of school drop-out for children, The hygiene of girls in particular. «During a visit to the boarding school, Lotfi was marked by the condition of the mattresses, whose foam is torn as in a gruyere ». He learned that teenage girls, for lack of sanitary towels, are forced to tear the foam from the mattresses. «Something has consequences for their health. We then launched a prototype washable towel. It is not about reinventing the road. We used a product that exists in India. These disposable sanitary towels, whose prototype has just been launched, will be distributed in schools supported by the association.
«Make our schools social enterprises»
Modest initiatives but that meet urgent needs while training children to become responsible adults. With around ten members, and more than a hundred ambassadors around the world, Lotfi is thinking of new mechanisms to make these schools financially independent in order to sustain their actions. «In Morocco, 80% of schools will be private by 2030. This is the trend in our countries. The education has to be paid for. Parents will have to pay for “low quality” education and schools that are beyond the control of the state we are cutting our wings that we have by destroying the base of our societies, education. Hence the idea of making our schools social enterprises.» Thought as a company, these schools must create wealth, while keeping their primary purpose, a quality education at the service of the child’s development.