The Cotonou Inner Wheel Club lives up to its vow to touch hearts
BY JOE LEADERS
Jeanne Godonou assumed the presidency of the Cotonou Inner Wheel club on July 1, 2016, the year the organization adopted the theme “touch a heart.” Nearly eleven months later, the Cotonou Inner Wheel club boasts an impressive set of achievements—a palpable translation of the organization’s lofty aspiration into action.
Walking in the footsteps of the International Rotary Club, arguably the world’s largest humanitarian organization—that generally did not admit women until 1989—Margaret Golding, the wife of a rotarian, established an organization for the wives and daughters of rotarians in 1924. She named it Inner Wheel. The Benin section of The International Inner Wheel came to life in 1990. It is part of district 909 which comprises seven countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Senegal and Togo, with a total of 16 clubs.
Jeanne Godonou was sworn in as president of the Cotonou club, one of the five Inner Wheel clubs in Benin, on July 1, 2016. Her accomplishments, as she nears the end of her term, stand as a clear translation of the organization’s aspiration into action. Indeed, the club’s wide-ranging activities have so far included the following:
Donation of baby kits and medications to the birthing center of the Benin Hospital for Women and Children, HOMEL.
Collection of 189 blood pouches donated to the National Blood Transfusion Center.
Construction of a two-classroom module at the General Education Secondary School in Agbada, with the support of the Cotonou Lagune Rotary Club which provided 50 tables and benches.
Christmas events including the donation of foods, clothing, gifts and more, to children in two orphanages at Tokpota, in Porto-Novo, and Hondji Akpame, in Dangbo.
Contribution to the building of a palm-oil extraction factory, and the donation of machinery to the factory to benefit a women’s cooperative in the Tori-Avame village. This was thanks to financial assistance provided by a local company, SOGEA SATOM.
Contribution to the construction of a building within the Benin Hospital for Women and Children, HOMEL, for the treatment of women suffering from a debilitating, unusual disease: obstetric fistula.
Working in collaboration with other women’s organizations in Benin to commemorate the International Women’s Day on March 8 by screening women for uterus cancer and breast cancer in various parts of Cotonou and Abomey-Calavi.
These achievements came as the result of the quasi-heroic dedication of women with a big heart who spend their time and their own hard-earned money, and literally beg others for donations, to support needy people they don’t know from anywhere. Even the hard economic circumstances prevailing in Benin today have not stopped the Inner Wheel members in their laudable pursuit.
A few months ago, in her speech on the occasion of the annual gala of all the Inner Wheel clubs of Benin, Jeanne Godonou stated proudly and loudly for the whole world to hear:
“In these times when the harsh economic circumstances are felt by all—both nationally and internationally—we wish to give hope again to the thousands of people in dire needs, which is why we called upon you, for you share our ideal.”
“Thanks to our efforts to sensitize the hearts that are capable of opening to others, our club has achieved quite a lot since its inception 27 years ago, in an effort to soothe the pains and attend to the wounds in order for those women to recover their dignity, and the children the joy to live.”
Addressing the participants at the gala, Koubourath Osseni, the
Great Chancellor of the National Order, stated:
“I praise the efforts you have made mandate after mandate to make it possible for this sensitive segment of the population to enjoy the many achievements of the Inner Wheel since 1990.”