Côte d’Ivoire




Social and professional rehabilitation for mentally ill women and their children

2009 - 2012

In West Africa, mental illness is considered a magical, supernatural event, caused by spirits who take over a person’s body. People suffering from mental disorders are often abandoned by their families. They may be left on the village outskirts or sent to spiritual healing centers, also known as “prayer camps”, where they are chained to a tree or a heavy piece of wood while their family prays to cast out the offending evil spirits.

The St. Camille Association helps people subjected to these prayer camps by freeing them and moving them to the association’s rehabilitation centers in Bouaké, where they are cared for and receive training to re-enter society. In particular, the association’s Belleville Center helps mentally ill women regain a normal life and re-learn the skills they need for work, self-awareness, family and social life.

During the project, the center provided shelter and psychiatric health care for women and their children, along with such diverse activities as hygiene, tailoring and dress-making, manioc processing, agriculture and textile manufacturing. A day-care and educational space for children provided psychological and medical aid as well as lunches during the school year.

The Ivory Coast’s Minister of Health declared the Belleville Center the country’s most effective structure for mental health care.

Project Highlights


alphabetization courses

gardening classes

cooking classes

knitting classes

hairdressing course

psychosocial activities for children



mentally ill mothers (women) involved in vocational/professional trainings


children and their mother supported through psychological interventions


women became independent or were rehabilitated after their training and an internship