The Mantais Solidaires produce a thousand masks a week!

Written by ADEPT

16 September 2020

The Mantais Solidaires produce a thousand masks a week!


Owing to the major role played by African diaspora organisations and individuals in the African continent’s development, ADEPT, the Africa-Europe Diaspora Development Platform, is keen to highlight initiatives of the African diaspora based in the EU but also in Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Norway. ADEPT works towards achieving a main goal: improving and strengthening the capacity and impact of African diaspora organizations involved in Africa’s development activities.

In this article, we are going to tell you about a handful of young Senegalese living in Mantes la Jolie, gathered in a collective called “Coeur du Fouta”, who have made solidarity their credo. Accustomed to managing projects for their country of origin, they have, in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, focused on a local project for the manufacture and distribution of masks.

Heart of Fouta, an association with a big heart.

The association “Coeur du Fouta” was born in the Paris suburb (Mantes La Jolie), from the good will of a group of young people originating from the region of Matam, in Senegal. Endowed with strong civic values, they carried out occasional actions in their origin regions, with their own – and modest – means: distribution of school supplies, raising awareness of projects to fight malaria, distribution of impregnated mosquito nets, renovation of classrooms, etc.

Faced with the immense needs and requests from the population, these young people have chosen to form an association in 2013, in order to implement larger-scale projects.

Their actions then focused on the following needs:

  • The mobility of young Senegalese in Europe
  • Projects in Senegal: education/development/economy/health and environment
  • Youth engagement
  • Education for citizenship and international solidarity
  • Supporting associations in setting up their project

In order to meet clearly defined objectives:

  • Contribute to the development of Senegalese villages in the fields of education, health, environment and economic development.
  • Stimulate interest to make young people want to get involved in the socio-economic development of their country of origin individually and/or collectively
  • Encourage the involvement of young people in associations and international solidarity organizations
  • Organize actions of education for citizenship and international solidarity
  • Fostering intergenerational and intercultural exchanges
  • Strengthen living together on the territory.

The Mantais united in the face of the pandemic. 

Quickly engaged in the fight against Covid-19, the association decided to carry out a specific action named “Les Mantais Solidaires”. Objective: the making of 30,000 fabric masks, for the most modest inhabitants of Mantes La Jolie.

Aïssata Dema, the project manager, decided to work only with local labour and products. Sixteen seamstresses and dressmakers – exclusively workers in integration from the region – were therefore recruited. The association offered them a short contract of 26 hours a week.

For the raw material: wax fabric, bought on the Val-Fourré market. For the equipment (13 sewing machines, 2 overlocking machines), the premises (gymnasium) and logistical support (tables, chairs, etc.), Cœur du Fouta has succeeded in setting up a partnership with ACR, a professional integration workshop in the employment area. The very dynamic association has also managed to mobilize significant support: The City of Mantes La Jolie, the Yvelines department, social backers: Résidence Yvelines-Essonne, 1001 vies Habitat, CDC Habitat and Batigère. And of course, many volunteers!

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