Pastor Mesmen Gbaguidi opened the inauguration ceremony for the new Casa Grande center with the passage from Ecclesiastes chapter 3 For everything there is season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Today, he said, was a time to celebrate, and it certainly was.
In August 2000 Paco and Annette Castillo were sent by the Mennonite Church in Burgos, Spain to work with orphans and abandoned children in Cotonou. They started out small in a house not far from ours and welcomed, one by one, abandoned and orphaned children into their home. The idea was to provide a family centered environment where they would have a second chance to develop into well rounded, mature young adults. That focus hasn’t changed, but Casa Grande has certainly grown beyond those humble beginnings.
They soon outgrew the house here in Cotonou and moved to a larger place in Allada, about 40 kilometers north of the city. There the “family” has grown to include 25 youngsters between the ages of 1 and 17. Paco and Annette returned to Spain because of health concerns but left the household in the capable hands of Paulin and Easter Boko. Before leaving they oversaw the acquisition of a plot of land where they envisioned building a center that would quadruple the number of children they could welcome. This week that vision became a reality when the first phase of that center was inaugurated.
Named Fifatin, the center will eventually house 96 children in 8 different housing units. This first phase included digging a well, building 2 of the housing units for children and one staff unit, connecting electricity and phone lines, and putting up about half of the enclosure wall. This month everyone will move from the rented house to the new facilities.
The inauguration was a celebration that focused on God’s faithfulness to the ministry since its inception 8 years ago. Pray for continued blessings on the Casa Grande children and for a rapid completion of the following phases of construction. A school, workshop, sports field and more housing units are in the plans.
Check out Casa Grande’s web site http://www.lacasagrandebenin.org/enghome.html
See more photos of the inauguration here.