Bras Ouverts - Open Arms

At Bras Ouverts – Open Arms (BOOA), our goal is to establish a sustainably financed school that provides free education in Ouidah, Benin. We are Bras Ouvert-Open Arms (BOOA).

We believe that all children have the right to education, support, and hopeful futures. That's why we're working hard to ensure that the children in Ouidah, Benin, can receive quality, nondiscriminatory education for free. Through doing so, we are determined to uplift the community as a whole and create a new generation with a more prosperous future.


Interns Departure Party


Computer Class Ceremony

Meeting of Women in Ouidah 21/07/2017

Meeting of Women in Ouidah


Women's Rights Training Sessions


Public School Visits


Photos from Bras Ouverts - Open Arms's post


Thank you very much to Shannon Lockwood for designing this awesome logo for our partner, the women's association Nonvignon, which is located in Pahou. We have been doing women's rights trainings with Nonvignon and look forward to future activities!

Women's Rights Training Sessions 11/07/2017

With the women's association NONVIGNON

With the women's association NONVIGNON


The BOOA team has been meeting with an amazing group of women in Pahou called Nonvignon. Their organization provides aid to its members through microfinance, mediation in domestic disputes, and other forms of financial and emotional support. We are excited to host women’s rights training sessions with them in a village called Hounhanminde. This summer we are conducting three sessions, with the second taking place this Friday.


The women of Djègbadji, a small lagoon near the ocean in Ouidah, formed a group where they come together to produce and sell salt. The group has created a joint fund to lend money to new female members for start-up costs in salt production. In addition to working toward financial independence, these women offer mediation services for families in various types of domestic disputes. BOOA hopes to work with the women of Djègbadji in the future regarding women’s rights and sustainable solutions!


BRAS OUVERTS - OPEN ARMS - Plateforme de ressources web de la MdSC

BOOA is now a member of the Maison de la Société Civile and you can see our profile page here: 10/06/2017

Bras Ouverts – Open Arms

The Bras Ouverts - Open Arms website is now available in both French and English, see the link below:


WELCOME LAURA AND SCOTT! We're so happy to be joined in Benin by two new interns, coming from Georgetown University and UCLA School of Law. They'll be in Ouidah for 9 weeks, primarily helping with organizational capacity building and legal issues. Welcome aboard, and we'll keep you posted on the great work they do. 02/06/2017

Click here to support Bras Ouverts - Open Arms 2017 Summer Fundraiser

So far, one of our major projects in 2017 has been working on technology access and computer literacy with our students and their families. Recently, we started giving weekend computer classes for the adult family members of the children we serve. This is something the community has expressed a great deal of enthusiasm for, and we're so grateful to have the opportunity to expand our tech work in order to empower more people. Being able to access and use computers and the internet opens a world of opportunities--from increasing professional skills to communicating with far away loved ones.

Help us create opportunities like these by supporting our new fundraising campaign! 28/05/2017

Click here to support Bras Ouverts - Open Arms 2017 Summer Fundraiser

Today, we're excited to announce that that Afrique Student Association (ASA) at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland is helping us with another round of fundraising. Along with thier help, we're trying to get this crowdfunding effort to reach as many engaged, proactive and supportive people as possible. If you care about childrens' right to education, the importance of equal opportunity in breaking the cycle of poverty, or locally-led international development, then please consider contributing to our work. Every day in Benin, we help kids and their families get closer to living healthy, safe, fulfilled lives, and that's partially thanks to the generousity of people like you. Click on the link to donate, and please share this on your personal page! The main goal of Bras Ouverts – Open Arms (BOOA) is to improve the lives of marginalized communities in Benin, including displaced persons. Your support will help grant students and the wider community regular access to educational materials and technological knowledge by funding school supplies,...


Peace Academy Pictures


Bras Ouverts - Open Arms's cover photo

Peace Academy Pictures 08/05/2017

The heart of our work: the school, students, and the wonderful people who are making change happen

The heart of our work: the school, students, and the wonderful people who are making change happen


Bras Ouverts - Open Arms


The English International School in Cotonou made another generous contribution to BOOA by donating funds to redo the ceiling of our main school building! This is much appreciated because as you can see from the "before" pictures, our old ceiling was literally falling down. If you want to make a contribution too you can follow this link:

You can also see EIS' post about their donation here: 10/04/2017

Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!

This video is wonderful and wise. At BOOA, Remedy, the children, and the community are the foundation of everything we do. We are so thankful to have the privilege of helping them fulfill their goals and objectives, and for being able to take part in their journey. Cheers to shutting up and listening When most well-intentioned aid workers hear of a problem they think they can fix, they go to work. This, Ernesto Sirolli suggests, is naïve. In this funny and impassioned talk, he proposes that the first step is to listen to the people you're trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial sp...


Sometimes, it's easy to lose track of how special the little things in life are. Our students helped remind us of that, though, when--for the first time in their lives--the children were able to take books home to read. Thanks to generous donations from the Hinsdale Public Library, the Oak Park Public Library and the English International School in Cotonou, BOOA has begun a book-lending program for all of our students. So far, the kids seem to love it, and we've been working with families to support after-school and weekend reading. A world of words awaits them.

[04/04/17]   Through a grant from the Hinsdale Rotary Club, and with the assistance of the Beninese Embassy in Washington, DC, we were able to bring over the first three of what will become eight computers to the BOOA school so that students can begin to learn some technology skills. We've already started computer lessons, and are developing a curriculum that will allow us to make the best use of group work exercises. Christopher Moirano, our technology consultant will bring over the rest of the computers from the Rotary grant in April, which will allow us to do more individualized lessons.

[03/28/17]   The English International School located in Cotonou Benin was founded in 2000. It is one of over 10,000 Cambridge International Schools established in over 160 countries worldwide.

Recently, BOOA was introduced to the English International School, who wants to support our mission of getting more kids quality education. So, they've granted us funds to go towards infrastructure improvement--allowing us to make our organization a better learning environment.

[03/22/17]   "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow"

It's been a little while, but we've been hard at work! Since Mid-January, we've had team members in Ouidah helping to take our project into its' next steps and phases. In the coming week, we'll be announcing some of the exiting developments we've been working on, but in the meantime we just wanted to wish you a happy spring. Stay tuned!


On February 21, BOOA's students organized a welcome party for BOOA's international volunteers Jan Pieter and Kathleen. It was a fun day of dancing, singing and delicious food!

Photo credit: Félix Mensan


Recently at BOOA, it feels like there’s always something new happening. In fact, today we finalized our logo, as is pictured here :). A few weeks ago, we asked our students to design possible ideas, and this is what they came up with. Here are some other things coming up for us:

--In late January, two of our team members are headed to Benin to do some work from the ground, including working on getting revenue generating activities up and running.

--We’ll soon become both a Beninese NGO, as well as a tax-deductible American non-profit! This will open up lots of doors for new funding and partnerships
--At the school, we’re currently working on getting solar lights, which will enable us to run parent/adult education activities in the evenings.

If you want to support us in making these and more steps forward a reality, please go to and consider donating your time or resources!



When you donate to BOOA, you're donating to students like Grace. Here she is, in her own words, answering some of our questions for her.

Learn more and support her dreams at


Bras Ouverts – Open Arms

Our holiday fundraising campaign is off to an amazing start--we send a big, big thank you to everyone who has already donated and shown their support. For everyone else, we wanted let you know exactly what your money would be going towards if you decided to donate. We’re planning on using the money we raise to cover our basic expenses such as teachers’ salaries and school supplies. That way, grant money that we receive can to towards expansion and growth activities, like opening a library and computer lab at the school for our students and the wider community.

Our hope is that by January first, we will already have the base we need to fund school operations for the rest of the year. Here are some example of what your donation can enable us to do:
$12 USD: Enough pens and pencils for 1 semester
$20 USD: Clean water & food for 20 children for 1 day
$50 USD: School supplies for 20 children for 1 semester
$85 USD: Our head teachers’ salary for 1 month
$100 USD: 2 Educational tablets
$150 USD: 2 Teachers’ salaries for 1 month
$200: 1 Laptop

To donate, go to our website:
Also, remember that the more likes and shares this post gets, the more eyes will see it and the further our word can travel. Please show us some love!


Al Jazeera English

Check out this video that Al Jazeera just posted. It contains a succinct timeline of events relating to oil drilling in southeastern Nigeria, which is where many of BOOA's families are originally from.

A Nigerian tribal king has taken oil giant Shell to court in London. Here's why. 29/11/2016

Bras Ouverts – Open Arms

This Giving Tuesday, we here at BOOA hope that you will both give and take. We ask that you consider giving to secure our students’ educations, and to enhance the well-being of their families. Any amount will help, and we would love to discuss ways that you can give your time.

Likewise, we hope that you will take from us. Take information about the situation of Nigerian refugees in Benin. Take data about the city of Ouidah, and the people who live there. Take pride in the knowledge that your contribution, be it time or money, will go directly towards helping these groups.

Feel free to contact us with any questions or comments, and thank you for your consideration! 24/11/2016

Bras Ouverts – Open Arms

Dear Friends and Family,
As we gather in the USA today to give thanks, those of us on the BOOA team hope that you might also consider giving to our school. With your support, we will be able to continue providing a free education for Nigerian refugees and Beninese families living in Ouidah, Benin. Especially since the exchange rate from the US dollar to the West African CFA franc is about 1 to 600, any donation, no matter the amount, will go a long way. Thank you!


Woohoo! We are writing today with two peices of news--one small, one big, both exciting. First, the Hinsdale Public Library in Illinois donated two boxes of books for our school. The boxes are full of children's stories, which is perfect for our younger members who are just starting to explore the world of reading.

Second, we just found out that we have been awarded a grant from the Los Angeles South Bay Awesome Foundation Group!!! It's absolutely amazing how far all of these contributions can go in terms of supporting our school, so we're really, really proud to have gotten the grant and the books. Cheers to a great week in the BOOA world, and hope you guys are having good ones, too :) 16/11/2016

Bras Ouverts – Open Arms

Hey folks! We're super excited to officially be launching our new website. Since changing our name and revamping our model, we've been working to create a site that reflects the organization we've evolved into and our vision of what we hope to become. Please take just a few moments of your day to look around the website and let us know what you think. We really value your guys' support and engagement

Vidéos (voir toutes)






Maison BOOA, Quartier Lebou
Autres Formation à Ouidah-Plage (voir toutes)
Atelier Vacance "Afrique Décide" Atelier Vacance "Afrique Décide"

Ateliers de vacances est un programme de vacances en milieu ouvert qui propose aux enfants des activités d’éducation, d’apprentissage, d’initiation et de découvertes dans un environnement sain et fécond.