One-time project

2006 - Kétou, Benin

Kétou, Benin


  • 2000 eye examinations
  • 65 ocular surgeries
  • 25 general surgeries


  • SYTO-Benin

Humanitarian Mission in Ketou, Benin (West Africa)

For the second time, a team of IRIS Mundial volunteers took off for Benin, where they stayed from January 8 to 22, 2006. A small, culturally diverse West African country, Benin is home to 52 different ethnic groups, each of which is easily recognizable by its characteristic tattoos or 

scars. This time, the region selected was that of Ketou, which is located in a Muslim area. The inhabitants of this town are not accustomed to the presence of tourists, and very few of them speak French. In fact, the languages spoken primarily by the people are Yoruba, Fon and Nago.

Mrs. Paulette Aho, our partner in Benin, is the manager of the town’s Student and Youth Travel Organization (SYTO-Benin), the association that made it possible to successfully carry out the SYTO-Benin National Program to Combat Blindness, with the help of Mrs. Lucie Sessinou, Mayor of Ketou, and Dr. Barikissou Ogbe, Ophthalmologist and Program Coordinator.

Over the course of five working days, our volunteers conducted eye exams on 2000 people, each of whom was given, free of charge, a pair of used glasses (washed, repaired, analysed and classified beforehand), a pair of sunglasses, a glasses case, artificial drops and, when it was necessary to treat their condition, eye or systemic medicines. In addition, 66 young patients suffering from binocular white cataracts, which were causing blindness, received eye surgery in order to guarantee adequate functional vision necessary for their return to the labour market. In parallel, a team comprised of a general surgeon and two nurses conducted operations on 25 serious hernias. Despite all our goodwill and hard work, all of this represents but a drop in the bucket as far as the needs of this population are concerned.

“In the name of the population of Ketou, we thank the entire IRIS Mundial team. On this day, we can confirm that the IRIS Mundial project in Ketou was successful. The testimony has been audible, with blind people regaining their sight and general awareness being raised among hernia sufferers. In short, the operation has been a success; to your credit and our honour”.
(Mrs. Lucie Sessinou Tidjani, Mayor of Ketou).

Thanks, and “Bravo!”, to the IRIS Mundial volunteers who participated in this project:

Optometrists :
Isabelle Rouleau (Charlesbourg), Heidi Fandrich (Victoria, C.-B.), Geneviève Bégin (Sainte-Marie), Brigitte Marchand (Montréal), Jean-Pierre Tchang (Saint-Pamphile)

Ophthalmologists :
Jean-André de Groot (Montréal), Marcel Amyot (Montréal)

Opticians :
Mary-Ann Molcan (Nanaimo, B-C.), Élisabeth Duncan (Gatineau), Serge Poulin (Charlesbourg)

Orthoptist :
Francine Arbic (Laval)

Physicians :
Lyne Paré (Saint-Pamphile), Danielle Perreault (Montréal)

Surgeon :
Édouard Bastien (Montréal)

Nurses :
Andrée Coulombe (Québec), Denyse Lalonde (Montréal), Marg Hundt (Peterborough, Ontario), Liette Fortin (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu), Suzie Ross (Deschambeault), Rachel Lapierre (Piedmont)

Volunteers :
Michel Boutin (Lévis), Josée Demers (Montréal), Nataly Rae (Québec), Chantal Coutu (Laval), Danie Robichaud (Saint-Pamphile), Jacques Faguy (Québec), Benoît Robitaille (Québec)