Our Programmes

Sentinelles offers immediate and faithful support and advocates a holistic approach that takes into account the specific medical, psychosocial, educational and economic situation of each person.

Through individualized follow-up, it enables them to access their fundamental rights and, thanks to rigorous accompaniment, to achieve their autonomy.

Although the operational contexts are significantly different, the overall approach proposed remains the same, namely a differentiated and sustainable support.

Health axis

Health axis

Accompaniment of a family whose father was seriously injured during a demonstration when he was a teenager. Throughout his working life, a very reduced vision and kidney problems allowed him to do only small jobs with insufficient income to feed his family

Education axis

Education axis

Accompaniment of a family whose father was seriously injured during a demonstration when he was a teenager. Throughout his working life, a very reduced vision and kidney problems allowed him to do only small jobs with insufficient income to feed his family

Social reintegration axis

Social reintegration axis

Accompaniment of a family whose father was seriously injured during a demonstration when he was a teenager. Throughout his working life, a very reduced vision and kidney problems allowed him to do only small jobs with insufficient income to feed his family

Economic strengthening axis

Economic strengthening axis

Accompaniment of a family whose father was seriously injured during a demonstration when he was a teenager. Throughout his working life, a very reduced vision and kidney problems allowed him to do only small jobs with insufficient income to feed his family

Accompanied a family whose father was seriously injured during a demonstration when he was a teenager. Throughout his working life, a very reduced vision and kidney problems allowed him to do only small jobs with insufficient income to feed his family

Care in Switzerland


Sentinelles organizes the transfer of children and young adults to Switzerland, when medical care is not possible on site. Affected by noma or other facial affections, they are consulted and operated on at the University Hospitals of Geneva or during surgical missions organized with our local partners.

Distress: Children suffering from serious pathologies can be left without care by parents and families without resources in all the countries where we are present. This is particularly the case for children who are victims of noma.

What we know: Reconstructive surgery requires very important technical and human resources. It allows children to regain a harmonious face and includes plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery, as well as maxillofacial surgery. 

Learn more about our action


In order to offer the best possible support and stay to patients, transfers are carefully prepared. To this end, we request a complete medical and social file beforehand, in order to know the child, his or her state of health, daily life and family environment as well as possible. Our local staff prepare the children and their families for the trip and also take care of the administrative aspects.

At Sentinelles’ headquarters

The program manager coordinates and manages the transfer: planning of the surgical program in consultation with the surgical teams, booking of the plane ticket, search for an accompanying person from Aviation Sans Frontières (ASF) for the trip and, if necessary, an interpreter, planning of the stay in the quarantine hospital in Rennaz and finally requesting a welcome at the Maison de Terre des hommes in Massongex. Once the patient is in Switzerland, the person in charge of the program makes the link between the hospital and the reception house, coordinates the care, accompanies the child to the medical consultations, takes care of the administrative procedures and manages a team of volunteers to organize visits to the hospitalized patients.

Upon arrival, the patient is greeted by the “Care in Switzerland” program manager, before being taken to a hospital for a check-up. It is important to spend time with the patient to get to know him/her, to soothe him/her and to explain the next steps.

The reception centre

The patients of Sentinelles are welcomed at “La Maison” of Terre des hommes Valais, in Massongex, which meets all the necessary requirements, both in terms of medical care and overall management. The children and young people meet there in large numbers and participate in activities such as: school, creative workshops, games, cooking, walks.

Since July 1, 2015, “La Maison” grants Sentinelles free care. Patients also receive physical therapy follow-up if needed.

Other relief

This program aims to support people who are alone, sometimes without care, without a solution, totally destitute and unable to take care of themselves or their loved ones.

Learn more about our action

Algeria : 1 family

Accompaniment of a family whose father was very seriously injured during a demonstration when he was a teenager. Throughout his working life, his very limited vision and kidney problems allowed him to do only small jobs with insufficient income to feed his family.

Russia : 1 young woman

Medical support for a young woman who became a paraplegic at the age of 12 following a failed back operation, and who is now in good health despite her disability. Faithful donors and friends continue to support her and her mother with expensive medical equipment and special needs.

Nepal : 1 young man

Accompaniment of a young man who was welcomed in 1999 in the Presidium’s Home in Kathmandu because of kidney problems that could not be treated in his village. He is the only young man in Nepal followed by Presidium who still supports him to meet the needs related to his kidney failure, which still requires medical supervision and very expensive medication. We are currently seeking direct support from a pharmaceutical company to cover the medical costs.

Syria :

Presidium continues to work with the association Vivere to provide care and legal follow-up for young Syrian women who have been unjustly imprisoned for years in the regime’s jails. It also provides vital nutritional support for some sixty babies whose mothers are unable to breastfeed.

Facts & Figures

Facts and figures in 2020 from the Other Relief Programme

Work team

In Lausanne : 2 staff members

  • 2 part-time volunteers

Expenditure in 2020: CHF 3,345

Children suffering from noma

Burkina Faso

Distress: Present in the West until the beginning of the 20th century, noma mainly affects children aged 2 to 6. Deadly in 70 to 90% of cases, it leaves deep scars on the survivors.Noma is an infectious disease that starts with a benign lesion in the mouth. Its evolution is lightning: in a few days or weeks, without care, the child dies in 70 to 90% of cases. If he survives, he keeps terrible after-effects, deeply mutilating his face, often causing a total blocking of the jaws in closed position (constriction). In addition to the physical after-effects, there is also psychological suffering, as the disease is often seen as a curse or fate, leading to marginalization and feelings of shame for the child and his family.

What we know : The cause of noma remains unexplained; however, malnutrition, poor oral hygiene and an immune system weakened by other diseases are risk factors for the development of noma. Early detection, followed by the administration of a simple antibiotic treatment can stop the progression of the disease and cure the child in 2 to 3 weeks.

Learn more about our action

On-site care

The management of noma consists of providing treatment and care in our reception centers in Ouagadougou and Zinder. The state of health of the children in our centers requires a follow-up that can last several months.

Medical and social follow-up

A medical and social follow-up is systematically carried out with all children cured of noma in our centers. Visits to their villages allow us to ensure their social and educational integration and to improve their families’ living conditions.

Surgical care

Reconstructive surgery is offered to children suffering from serious after-effects. They are operated on during surgical missions organized by local partners, in neighboring countries or during medical transfers to Switzerland.


We organize awareness campaigns to prevent and detect noma at an early stage among the population and community actors. Customary authorities, health workers, public health students and NGO personnel are targeted by these awareness-raising and training sessions.

Care for children

Burkina Faso

Distress: Children with serious illnesses are deprived of care because their families do not have sufficient means for their treatment. 

What we know: Due to economic and geographical barriers, access to health care is not assured. Coming from poor families, many children with serious pathologies, burns, heart disease, cripples or mutilated children remain without care due to lack of means. Sentinelles facilitates their access to health services.

Learn more about our action

On-site care

After a thorough social investigation, Presidium ensures that the children are medically and surgically cared for and gives priority to local medical and surgical care. Depending on the options available, care is provided by medical professionals on site or during surgical missions in all the countries where we are active.


When a child is taken into care, medical and social follow-up continues in the child’s place of residence for as long as the child’s situation requires. Once the child has recovered, we ensure that he or she receives schooling or vocational training.

Awareness-raising and prevention

Our teams organize various awareness-raising and prevention activities for health professionals, the population, and civil and religious authorities.

Find out more about these different actions through our programs.

Girls and women in situations of extreme vulnerability

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Distress: The situation of extreme poverty in the country has destroyed solidarity and led many men to abandon their families, leaving behind them women and children, sometimes born of rape. Feeding them becomes a daily challenge and the only means of subsistence for these mothers is to offer their arms for an often miserable income. Physically and morally broken, they struggle to survive. Others are incarcerated with their children, most often for crimes related to their living conditions.

What we know: The women that Riverkeeper accompanies live in extreme poverty in rural areas, within a radius of about 60 kilometers from the city of Bukavu in South Kivu. The implementation of income-generating activities (IGA) allows them to gradually meet the needs of their families.

Learn more about our action

Actions in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Action in the field – Care and social component

Always oriented towards the autonomy of families in the medium or long term, individual care includes medical care and psychological support, occasional food support, housing assistance (development, rehabilitation and/or reconstruction of huts), income-generating activities, schooling for children and vocational training for young people who have completed their schooling or who have never attended school.

Social component in prisons

The particularly disastrous situation of prisoners in the central prison of Bukavu led us to open a nutritional, medical and social support program for women and their children during their incarceration, as well as reintegration assistance upon their release. To this end, Sentinelles offers individual and group psychological support, training workshops and social services. The children have access to schooling or benefit from socio-educational activities through our social assistance in the kindergarten that we have created.
(Project supported by Swiss Solidarity).

Women and girls with obstetric fistula

Burkina Faso

Distress: Obstetric fistulas are caused primarily by prolonged childbirth, sometimes lasting several days, without medical assistance, or when a cesarean section is performed too late. They can also be the result of genital mutilation and early marriage. Vesico-vaginal fistulas (VVF) and/or recto-vaginal fistulas (RVF) are lesions of the bladder, urethra, ureters, vagina, and sometimes the rectum that cause continuous or intermittent loss of urine and/or stool.

What we know: In most cases, the child dies and the woman suffers permanent incontinence afterwards. A woman suffering from fistula does not spontaneously go to a health center; she hides her problem by living in isolation and sometimes with shame. Many people believe that there is no cure for this “disease” and experience it as a punishment. Women with fistula are often rejected by their husbands and by the community. They live on the margins of society, which also impacts their economic situation, even though they can be cured.

Learn more about our action

On-site care

Our reception center in Ougadougou for children with noma also accommodates women and their companions during the post-operative period, for one month or more depending on the case.

Surgical care

Presidium helps women access VVF/RVF surgery and receive medical and psychological support throughout the hospital stay and the post-operative period, until recovery.

Social component

During their convalescence at our reception center, the women have access to training such as cooking, soap making, management of a small business, with a view to setting up income-generating activities (IGA) that will facilitate their social, family and economic reintegration. They also benefit from hygiene and nutrition awareness sessions. At the end of the medical follow-up, if the woman is declared cured, she takes home a kit that will allow her to start an IGA.

Awareness and prevention

The program to fight against obstetrical fistulas wants to break the taboo by a broad awareness, made in priority in the villages, the Health and Social Promotion Centers (CSPS) and the Medical Centers (CMA), when possible. Our collaborators try to remove the negative beliefs that weigh on this disease. The testimony of a woman who has recovered from fistula is often solicited and proves to be effective in prevention. These awareness and prevention campaigns are also carried out through screenings of the film “Dagouba’s Fistula” attended by hundreds of people per session, and through messages on prevention and detection of obstetric fistula broadcast on community radios.

Child protection


Distress: Mining, and in particular coal mining, is the main resource in the region of Amaga, in the department of Antioquia. Despite government actions to legalize mining and protect miners, this activity remains partly informal. The lack of respect for labor laws, accidents, and economic instability cause serious social problems for families in the region, which is also plagued by violence related to the micro-drug trade and the presence of criminal gangs. Some children are abused or neglected and their basic rights are not respected. Their mothers face serious financial and psychosocial difficulties.

What we know: As the only shelter in the region, our shelter receives children and adolescents in serious difficulty in a caring and professional environment. Our objectives are to offer them psychological and medical support, to guarantee their fundamental rights, to promote their socialization and to recreate and/or strengthen the parent-child relationship. Our actions also extend to their families, with a view to their return to a favorable environment.

Learn more about our action

Children in situation of abuse or violation in their family and social environment.

Some children in the coal mining region in the southwest of the department of Antoquia are in a situation of abuse or violation of their rights in their family and social environment. On the other hand, mothers and vulnerable families see their living conditions sometimes seriously altered.

Fight against sexual abuse:

The vast majority of the girls and boys in the shelter have been abused by someone close to them. The psychologist of the Lucerito Foundation, a Sentinelles partner, follows up on children suffering from trauma and offers individual and/or group therapy on a regular basis and in a safe environment to support the children and their mothers/families.

Individual help:

We rescue and follow children in their environment and provide frequent visits to where they are growing up. Individual help can also take the form of support and guidance in administrative procedures or in professional orientation and job search.

Talibé children


Distress: Talibé children are entrusted by their parents to a Koranic master (marabout), who is in charge of a daara (Koranic school), so that the latter can take charge of their religious education. Once the child has entered a daara, he or she becomes a talibé and lives in the daara under the full responsibility of the marabout, who holds all rights over him or her.

What we know: Talibé children are mainly boys between the ages of 5 and 15, from poor, often rural, families. In exchange for their integration into the daara and their education, the talibés must perform domestic work and are generally forced to beg in the streets in order to provide for themselves, the marabout and his family. They are sometimes subjected to severe corporal punishment and neglect.

Learn more about our action

Action on the ground/on-site monitoring

Riverkeeper conducts its activities in several daaras in Mbour (a region in western Senegal), offering the marabouts support for medical monitoring as well as for the schooling or literacy of the talibés. In a sustainable approach, Riverkeeper develops market gardening and livestock projects, so that the marabouts can provide care and education for the talibés on their own. We also work in collaboration with various community actors to enable them to get involved in monitoring the children’s welfare. The neighborhood, the neighborhood delegates, the neighborhood doyennes (badjenu gokh), the daaras mothers, the health posts… all are involved in monitoring the talibés. This helps to ensure that the living conditions of the talibés are maintained in the long term, even after the Presidium has left.

Awareness and prevention

In parallel to the activities in the different daaras, Presidium organizes awareness campaigns on abuse and, in case of abuse, denounces the person(s) responsible to the competent authorities. Sentinelles provides medical and/or social follow-up for talibé children who are victims of violence. Once treated, we set up a social, educational and school project with their families. Quarterly visits are made to monitor the progress of their situation.

Child prisoners


Children, big boys, big girls, in prison or in detention or “reeducation” centres. A few weeks, months or years. Forgotten or punished. Serious offences, minor misdemeanours, or nothing at all. But sentences that are often heavy and long. They are there because they have nowhere else to go.

In prison, feed them more, give them medical treatment, love them more. Listen to them, get to know them, gain their confidence. And work towards their freedom.

Outside, take them in and slowly, patiently, teach them how to live and from what. By giving them the means. Do all that we can so that they do not fall back into the same misfortune.

Child drivers of the blind


Distress: Children from the age of 3 or 4 years old from families where one or both parents are blind are forced to take care of them and manage to access basic necessities for themselves and their families. Often living in great precariousness, they become, as the name of the program indicates, “drivers of the blind”, and accompany their parents to beg in the street. 

What we know: This situation prevents their schooling, deprives them of a carefree childhood and sometimes leads them to delinquency. 

Learn more about our action

Action in the field

Presidium offers tailor-made support, sometimes on a long-term basis, in order to guarantee a perennial improvement in the living conditions of the beneficiaries and their families through the implementation of income-generating activities.

Social component

Individual follow-up of blind children in terms of education, training, medical care and social integration is implemented during home visits, always in close collaboration with the families. Some of them, particularly vulnerable, benefit from temporary food aid.

Food support

Burkina Faso
Democratic Republic of the Congo

Food belongs to everyone, but people die of hunger in their millions. If the planet’s development plans Through the social components of each of our programs, we ensure the right to food. Depending on the needs, we direct the children to nutritional recovery centers or offer them food support while developing income-generating activities, with a view to their autonomy.

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso in figures:

Population: over 20 million
Fertility rate: 5.2 births per woman
Infant mortality rate (before age 5): 76 per thousand
Literacy rate of 15 to 24 year olds: 47% for men and 33% for women

In 2020, the UNDP ranks Burkina Faso 182nd out of 189 countries in terms of the Human Development Index (HDI). While the country has “gained” one rank since 2015, more than 40% of its population still lives below the poverty line. According to the provisional results of the latest census, the country has 20.5 million inhabitants. The population growth rate of 3.1% per year remains among the highest in the world with an average number of 5.2 children per woman and an estimated life expectancy of 56.7 years. The proportion of children between zero and 15 years of age is estimated at 47.4% and that of children under five at 18.1%.

Mothers and children are the most vulnerable population groups. In 2015, only 66% of births were attended by a skilled health professional. The maternal mortality ratio of 371 deaths of women during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 6 weeks of childbirth per 100,000 births and the average birth rate among 15-19 year old girls of 132 per 1,000 women are among the highest in the world.

According to the 2020 nutrition survey, nearly 10% of the population suffers from acute malnutrition (9.1%) and a quarter of the population from chronic malnutrition (24.9%). The regions most affected by malnutrition remain the Sahel, the Centre-North and the East. In Burkina Faso, more than one-third of deaths among children under five are attributable directly or indirectly to malnutrition. The nutritional situation of women of childbearing age is also a cause for concern, with a high prevalence of acute malnutrition of 4.1% according to brachial circumference and 9.0% according to body mass index.

The security situation has continued to deteriorate in recent years due to the presence of radical armed groups in the Sahel region, particularly in Burkina Faso, with an increasing impact on the population. According to OCHA, 2020 was the most challenging year for the humanitarian situation compared to the last ten years. Conditions have accumulated for already vulnerable populations: insecurity, community conflicts, food and nutrition insecurity, floods and high winds, COVID-19 and its restrictive measures. From 614,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in January 2020, Burkina Faso had 1,074 million IDPs by December 31 of the same year, an increase of 75%, and more than 1,368,164 by July 2021. The trend of health facilities closing or operating at minimal capacity remained virtually unchanged throughout 2020, with an average of 1 million people consistently denied access to health care. This same consistency was also observed in the closure of schools due to violence, and as of December 5, 2020, the government counted 2,169 closed schools, affecting 306,946 students. The results of the November 2020 harmonized framework exercise showed that nationally 2.02 million people were in food crisis in the current situation and 2.86 million people in the projected situation (June to August 2021).

Faits & Chiffres

Facts and figures in 2020 for the Noma program in Burkina Faso

Sentinelles assisted 204 children, adolescents and adults, including

  • 85 children, adolescents and adults with noma
  • 56 newborns and children with cleft lip and palate
  • 58 children and adults with osteitis (bone infection), tumors, burns and other facial conditions
  • 5 children and youth with heart disease
  • 3 new cases were opened during the year and 10 cases were closed, of which 2 were lost to follow-up and 8 completed their medical/social follow-up.

In 2020 – Sentinelles sensitized 323 health workers in 153 health and social promotion centers (CSPS)

Work teams

In Ouagadougou and Fada N’Gourma: 12 local collaborators

  • 1 local manager for the noma and FVV/FRV programs (until October: 1 local manager per program)
  • 1 administrative assistant, 2 nurses, 1 social worker, 2 animators, 1 driver, 2 cooks, 2 guards in Ouagadougou (and until October: 2 guards in Fada).

In Lausanne: 4 collaborators

  • 1 person in charge of the noma and FVV/FRV programs at 100%.
  • 2 volunteers
  • 1 staff member of the Child Care Program and 1 staff member of the Relief Program for children affected by noma in Niger work in close collaboration with this program.

Expenditures in 2020

CHF 231’504


Program facts and figures Women with obstetric fistula

Sentinelles assisted 111 women who were followed through the various stages of their care

  • 10 women were screened: 5 with vesico-vaginal fistula (VVF) or recto-vaginal fistula (RVF) and 5 with prolapse; they were given an individual file
  • 9 women were operated and accompanied during an operative mission.
  • 5 of them suffered from DVF/VRF and 4 from prolapse
  • 15 women benefited from postoperative follow-ups
  • 2 women who underwent urinary diversion between 2004 and 2016 were followed up
  • 8 women were declared cured and their medical file closed
  • 28 women benefited from social follow-up and the setting up of income-generating activities
  • 55 women are waiting for an intervention at the end of 2020

Work teams

In Ouagadougou and Fada N’Gourma: 12 local collaborators

  • 1 local manager for the noma and FVV/FRV programs (until October: 1 local manager per program)
  • 1 administrative assistant, 2 nurses, 1 social worker, 2 animators, 1 driver, 2 cooks, 2 guards in Ouagadougou (and until October: 2 guards in Fada).

In Lausanne: 4 collaborators

  • 1 person in charge of the noma and FVV/FRV programs at 100%.
  • 2 volunteers
  • 1 collaborator of the Child Care Program and 1 collaborator of the Relief Program for children affected by noma in Niger work in close collaboration with this program.

Expenditures in 2020

CHF 231’504

Our Partners

Medical centers – Hospitals in Burkina Faso

  • Yalgado Ouedraogo University Hospital (CHUYO),
  • Persis Pediatric Medical Center,
  • Schiphra Protestant Medical Center,
  • Ouagadougou Center for Recovery and Nutritional Education (CREN),
  • Morija
  • Regional Hospital Center (CHR) of Fada N’Gourma
  • Bethany Medical Center of Fada N’Gourma
  • Numerous CMAs and CSPSs in the eastern and central regions

Associations and other organizations

  • Association Persis Valais and Persis Burkina
  • Bilaadga
  • Hymn to the Children Foundation
  • Charles de Gaulle Hospital
  • La Chaîne de l’Espoir, France
  • La Voix du Paysan, Radio Manedga, Radio Salaki
  • Secours Dentaire Burkina Faso (SDBF),
  • Ouagadougou Financial facilities + technical partnership
  • Swiss Cooperation Agency and Swiss Consulate in Ouagadougou.
  • Association Ensemble pour Eux (EPE)
  • Physionoma Association
  • Saint Camille Hospital of Ouagadougou, Dr. Moussa Guiro


Located in the extreme northwest of South America, Colombia connects Central America (Panama) to South America (Peru, Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela) and has access to the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. The country has 50 million inhabitants, in a territory of one million km2, concentrated on the coast (of which there are several) and in the Andes, especially in the five major cities: Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla and Cartagena.

Economically, Colombia is growing, although inequalities persist. The unemployment rate is 13%. A large part of the country lives in the informal economy and, according to the Department of Statistics DANE, 40% of the population lives in poverty.

The country’s history is marked by violence: political assassinations, coups d’état, formation of self-defense groups, military juntas. In 1948, the assassination of Gaitán led to 10 years of violence between the left-leaning liberal party and the right-leaning conservative party.

From this time, the debate between the distribution, sharing and use of land was born. This issue continues to this day. Violence was reinforced by cocaine and arms trafficking in the 1980s and 1990s. The various cartels control entire regions, while right-wing self-defense militias control others. This violence flourishes in the poorest areas of the country, where half the population lives in great poverty. The cartels control the entire production chain, from the cultivation of the plant (coca) to its export to consumer countries. Currently, about 70% of the cocaine production sold in the world comes from Colombia.

In 2016, after 50 years of civil war, a peace agreement between the State and the communist guerrilla FARC was finalized. Five years after the signing of the agreements, however, crucial points remain unresolved (rural reform, socio-economic reintegration of ex-guerrillas, substitution of illicit crops, reconciliation and reparation to victims).

Local context of intervention

Sentinelles is active in the Andean region of southwestern Antioquia, where employment opportunities are scarce. Without access to education, the possibility of engaging in any activity other than coal mining is very low. This context of poverty and violence leads Sentinelles to rescue abandoned and severely abused children and women by offering them adapted assistance that promotes exchange, trust and commitment.

En savoir plus sur notre action

Sentinelles rescued 76 children, adolescents and adults, including :

The relief and support component: in the Amagá – Minas shelter

  • 22 children and their families received care and psycho-social follow-up
  • 3 children in a day care center
  • 3 children with serious learning difficulties participated in the state school reinforcement program
  • 2 young girls have benefited from a psychiatric follow-up

Care for victims of sexual abuse

  • 4 girls benefited from therapy

The component: Individual assistance

  • 20 families received regular support in their living environment (9 children, 8 young adults and 13 adults)

Support to families during the Covid-19 crisis

  • 68 families were supported, representing approximately 400 people
  • 26 families were supported outside the program in March and April

Work teams

In Minas (Antioquia) :

  1.  7 local collaborators and a professional accountant

In Lausanne :

  • 1 program manager at 60%.

Expenses in 2020

CHF 136’183

Our partners
  • Lucerito Foundation
  • Passion & Heart Foundation
  • National Apprenticeship Service – SENA
  • AIESEC Organization
  • Federation of NGOs of Antioquia
  • Hogar Juvenil Campesino y Minero de Amagá (Amagá Peasant and Mining Youth Home)
  • Fondation Patronato
  • New Era

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Located in Central Africa and straddling the Equator, the Democratic Republic of Congo is the second largest country in Africa and has an estimated population of 86 million inhabitants in an area of 2,345,000 km2.

The country is ranked 179th out of 189 nations on the UNDP Human Development Index3. According to World Bank data, approximately 64% of the population lives below the poverty line.

For more than 20 years, the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been under attack by armed gangs of all stripes, in particular the Interhamwes, a genocidal group from Rwanda that settled in the forests of South Kivu at the end of the 1994 genocide. Villages are looted and burned, men are massacred and women are raped and subjected to many forms of torture. This is known as rape as a weapon of war.

Although the conflict is officially over, insecurity persists, particularly in the North-East and South Kivu regions, where armed gangs have a predilection for the subsoil, which is rich in precious resources and international mining issues.

Fleeing poverty and in search of work in the mines, many men desert their families. Many die on the spot for lack of medical care or are killed by the armed gangs operating in the region; others return empty-handed, sometimes ill, and unable to provide for their families. In this highly degraded security, economic and social context, women find themselves abandoned with their children and unable to provide for their families.

Faits & Chiffres

Facts and figures 2020 of the “Women victims of violence, abandoned with their children” program

Sentinelles rescued 571 people, including:

The social component

  • 63 families received direct support, i.e. approximately 383 people
  • 13 homes under construction/full or partial rehabilitation
  • 188 children enrolled in school
  • 13 young people received professional training
  • 5 families became independent after several years of support.

Women detained at the Bukavu central prison and their children

In April 2020, the support program for women detained at the Bukavu central prison and their children began. All of them receive nutritional, medical and social support during their incarceration, as well as reintegration assistance upon their release. The children also benefit from schooling or regular follow-up in the prison kindergarten by our specialized social worker. This project is supported by La Chaine du Bonheur.

The social aspect: in prison

  • 58 inmates and 8 children received direct support
  • 5 children attending school
  • 23 children outside prison, from families of incarcerated women
  • 2 young girls in vocational training
  • 2 women received support for reintegration.

Work team

In Congo: 5 local collaborators

  • 1 administrator
  • 3 social assistants
  • 1 driver

In Lausanne: 1 collaborator

  • 1 program manager at 40%.

Expenses in 2020: CHF 133’599

Our Partners


An island state in southern Africa, separated from the mainland by the Mozambique Channel and covering more than 587,000 km2, Madagascar is the fifth largest island in the world. Ranked 164th out of 189 in the latest update of the Human Development Index (HDI) by the UNDP, the country is in a situation of great structural poverty. Its population is estimated at 26.9 million, 75% of whom live on less than $1.90 PPP per day (purchasing power parity).

The serious political crisis that the country experienced in 2009 led to a decrease in foreign investment and development funds from the usual donors, the closure of many businesses and, as a result, increased the impoverishment of a very large segment of the population.

The return to constitutional order and that of international partners took place in 2014 with the election of Hery Rajaonarimampianina. Controversial throughout his term, he did not succeed in bringing the country out of its situation. He was defeated in the first round of the 2018 presidential election by the two former heads of state protagonists of the 2009 crisis. It is Andry Rajoelina who is again at the head of the country, since January 2019. Since then, his power has increased considerably with the election of his supporters at the communal and legislative levels, as well as in other institutions.

Although the national economy has recovered following this return to order and a peaceful transition, the living conditions of the majority of Malagasy people remained extremely precarious before the coronavirus pandemic. With the pandemic, they have become much worse.

More than a quarter of school-age children do not attend school, roads are not maintained, health, water and electricity systems are deficient, and the security situation is deplorable. Access to sufficient food, water, health care, education and housing remains very difficult. The reality of many children and adolescents is determined by illiteracy, low levels of schooling, precarious work in the informal economy, social and family breakdown and delinquency. Girls, women and their children are particularly vulnerable to this situation and are the first victims. The country has an extremely high number of single-parent families. Very often, single mothers find themselves without a solution to provide for their family.

En savoir plus sur notre action

Facts and figures on socio-medical follow-up actions

Sentinelles has helped more than 540 people (more than 2’700 people have benefited from our actions) in the framework of our different programs
Work team

In Madagascar: 43 local collaborators

2 coordinators, 4 social workers in charge of the program, 11 social workers, 3 educators, 2 doctors, 1 physiotherapist, 6 animators and trainers, 1 teacher, 1 lawyer, 2 housekeepers, 1 secretary, 1 accountant, 1 micro-credit agent, 2 drivers, 3 guards, 2 deputy guards

In Lausanne: 4 collaborators

  • 1 program manager (80%)
  • 1 part-time administrative assistant
  • 1 part-time volunteer accountant.

Expenses in 2020

CHF 357’235

Childcare component
  • 72 children from 70 families benefited from the care program
  • 8 children underwent surgery, 2 children had deformities that were treated with a cast
  • 30 children were followed in rehabilitation at the Sentinelles physiotherapy office. The regularity of physical therapy sessions at our office was disrupted for several months due to the health situation. To reduce the risk of regression, our physiotherapist provided families with exercises to practice at home
  • 29 new devices were provided including 15 pairs of reinforced or orthopedic shoes
  • 61 children were weighed, 64 benefited from the nutritional recovery program. Of these, 13 were integrated because they were more or less severely malnourished. The others had to reach the ideal weight to undergo or recover from surgery
  • 92 children and young people benefited from school assistance
  • 5 young people and mothers received vocational training
  • 4 new economic aid projects (microcredits) were launched
  • 57 family members benefited from specialized medical follow-up. There were 8 hospitalizations
  • 32 families in precarious situations received temporary food support
  • 11 cases were closed

This program was funded by the Gertrude Hirzel Foundation since May 1, 2019; it continued until the end of April 2020.

Right to be component
  • 24 families, most of them large, living in severe poverty, were followed; they all received food, medical and psychosocial support. 8 families in the process of becoming autonomous still benefited from school assistance only
  • 17 people benefited from specialized medical follow-up, including 1 psychological. There were 7 hospitalizations
  • 46 children benefited from school assistance, including 7 in boarding school
  • 11 people received vocational training, of which 5 were boarders
  • 2 new economic aid projects (microcredits) were launched
  • 1 housing assistance was granted
  • 17 families in precarious situations received temporary food support
  • 1 case was closed.

Dispensary of Antohomadinika

  • 1,409 families (6,616 people) were enrolled in the dispensary’s health insurance scheme
  • 1’862 people, including 853 children, consulted the dispensary and received medical care
  • Usually more than 1’000 women take part in the family planning program; unfortunately this year a shortage of contraceptive products prevented this activity
  • 34 women attended prenatal consultations and 38 newborns were examined in postnatal consultations
  • 18 children were monitored for weight. The nutritional recovery program for these children was provided by Action contre la Faim
  • Due to the health situation, the traditional consultation days given in a nearby crèche (Oasis) could not take place. There were no home visits.
  • Four health education sessions were held, two of which were on Covid 19. The vaccination campaigns against poliomyelitis, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, could not be organized because of the health context related to Covid 19.

The reception house

Several families stayed there for several days to several months. 41 children, young people and women stayed there for health reasons, training, protection measures or while waiting for a durable solution. During the vacation periods, the young people placed in boarding school, for lack of other places to stay, came to recharge their batteries and took part in the various activities set up.

The training workshop in Ambohidahy

  • 15 people followed the sewing, knitting and cooking courses
  • 16 families followed the individualized management course in order to launch an income generating activity

Small Courses

During the 2019-2020 school year, 20 children and youth attended support or refresher courses, 5 of them were only transient. Of the 15 students who were regular, 4 were able to be integrated into the public school, 3 are in training; 4 are continuing the course and 4 withdrew

Le Petit Cours could not operate during the few months of school closure decreed by the Government. Despite this, the results were judged globally satisfactory by our teacher.

Social and medical services, home visits and general information

  • 3’365 medical consultations
  • The shortage of contraceptive products prevented the implementation of the family planning program
  • 88 children were placed under weight watch, including 20 malnourished children who entered our nutritional recovery program. Our doctor judged the results of this program to be good but insufficient. The consequences of the situation caused by the pandemic are mentioned as the main reasons for this observation (absenteeism)
  • More than 42 tons of food products, more than 18’000 pieces of soap, more than 14 tons of charcoal and 203 blankets were sold for children in nutritional recovery, families under food support, the shelter, the prison and the students of the training workshops and the Sentinelles’ Petit Cours
  • 3 weeks of awareness campaigns and health prevention were carried out by our doctors. 5 other awareness sessions, including 2 on covid 19, were carried out.
  • 260 days of social permanence were carried out in our premises
  • 752 visits were made to families for their psychosocial follow-up; more than 29,680 km were covered.

Social and family reintegration component

Rehabilitation Center of Anjanamasina Mandrasoa (CRM) – (young boys)

In the Center

  • 85 boys were taken care of; all of them benefited from the socio-educational and cultural activities set up by Sentinelles
  • 36 social days at the Center
  • 2,107 trips to the court for investigation or hearing, all of which were taken care of by Sentinelles; 191 young people were released (some were taken care of by Sentinelles only at the time of their release)
  • 103 somatic examinations were conducted outside the Centre.

We were unable to operate within the MRC for 5 months, from April to August, due to health restrictions related to Covid 19.

Outside the Center

  • 150 released youth and their families received psychosocial follow-up
  • 213 children received (or are still receiving) school assistance. (Among them, 34 are young people who have passed through the rehabilitation center and 166 are part of their siblings; 23 of them are studying in boarding schools)
  • 38 young people have taken (or are still taking) vocational training, 17 of whom are in boarding school
  • 16 youth have already entered the world of work through vocational training, an income-generating activity or a starter kit
  • 8 new economic aid projects (microcredits) have been launched
  • 20 families benefited from housing assistance. Among these, 7 houses were built or repaired, 3 rent subsidies and 10 equipment and material subsidies (furniture, mattresses, utensils, etc.)
  • 91 families in precarious situations have benefited from temporary food support, as well as 23 young people in boarding schools
  • 16 children and 2 mothers followed the nutritional recovery program
  • 2 people received specialized medical follow-up, 3 received neurological follow-up and 3 people were hospitalized
  • 4 suppletive judgement procedures in order to obtain birth certificates have been launched and are still in progress.
  • 43 files were closed this year.

Antanimora Central Prison (Underage girls, pregnant women and women incarcerated with their children)

In the prison

  • 20 underage girls at the time of their incarceration, including 10 new entrants, were followed up; all of them received food, medical and material support, follow-up of their legal situation and took part in socio-educational, cultural and training activities set up by Sentinelles. 9 of them went to court and 11 were released
  • 1 child of an incarcerated minor girl was taken care of and welcomed in our kindergarten (see below)
  • 24 days of social permanence for the girls were carried out within the prison
  • 9 sensitization sessions on different themes were held
  • 60 medical consultations by our doctor
  • 2 girls benefited from a pregnancy follow-up. They gave birth after their release.

Outside the prison

  • 43 girls and their families were followed up outside the prison
  • 44 children benefited from school assistance
  • 2 young people received vocational training
  • 7 families in precarious situations received temporary food support and 9 children followed the nutritional recovery program
  • 2 people benefited from a specialized medical follow-up
  • 3 new economic aid projects (microcredits) were launched
  • 21 cases were closed

Children incarcerated with their mothers and pregnant women

In the prison

  • 48 mothers with their 48 children, 34 pregnant women and their 16 newborns, as well as 5 other children of inmates who have had a short stay were taken care of
  • 70 children were welcomed in the kindergarten. Those over 18 months of age who were to be released according to the law were taken in by their families or placed in an appropriate structure. Among them, 22 were taken in by the Sisters of Saint-Maurice in their center located near the prison
  • 27 days of social permanence for women were carried out
  • 82 mothers participated in the Sentinelles training workshop
  • 9 sensitization sessions on different themes were held
  • 705 medical consultations for children and women in the prison and 22 dental consultations. 53 children were weighed, 1 of them was put on nutritional recovery. 2 children were hospitalized
  • 28 incarcerated pregnant women received prenatal follow-up (6 of them gave birth in the maternity ward of a hospital in the capital during their detention; they were then given postnatal follow-up in the prison)

Outside the prison

  • 64 mothers and their families were monitored
  • 52 children received school assistance, 18 of them in boarding schools
  • 4 young family members or mothers received professional training
  • 15 new economic aid projects (microcredits) were launched
  • 10 housing aids were granted to as many families
  • 38 families in precarious situations received temporary food support and 17 children followed the nutritional recovery program
  • 8 people received specialized medical follow-up. There were 12 hospitalizations
  • 21 cases were closed

The “Tovovavy Mendrika” component: children and young girls who have been sexually assaulted

  • 2 girls who have been sexually assaulted have benefited from a solid psychosocial follow-up according to their specific needs. 2 other girls whose psychosocial follow-up is completed and whose families are in the process of becoming autonomous still benefited from our support for the schooling of their children only
  • 9 girls and/or members of their siblings have benefited from school assistance, including 4 in boarding school
  • 2 families in precarious situations received temporary food support and 2 children followed the nutritional recovery program.


A West African country as big as Switzerland, with a population of about 24 million, Niger is located in the Sahelian belt, without any access to the sea. Three quarters of the country is located in the desert zone.

Every year, the country ranks at the bottom of the human development indicators and is one of the poorest countries in the world. 80% of the population depends on agriculture, only one in four people is literate and the school enrolment rate is one of the lowest in the world. In 2020, extreme poverty will affect more than 10 million people, or more than 40% of the population. Food insecurity, a weak health system and low education levels are just some of the factors that contribute to endemic poverty.

Niger, whose economy depends mainly on agriculture, is increasingly impacted by climate change, which not only greatly reduces agricultural yields but also causes extreme weather events such as floods and droughts.

Although the direct victims of the Covid-19 pandemic appear to be few, the indirect consequences of the pandemic are a further blow to the country, whose growth rate has declined sharply between 2019 and 2020.

Significant insecurity problems in the East and West zones have been reinforced since 2015 with the presence and multiplication of jihadist groups in the Sahel. Regularly, the country is the scene of attacks and massacres against security forces and civilians. This weakens the economy and the population and undermines national security.

As a preferred transit area for migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, Niger is currently home to large refugee camps and internally displaced persons.

Faits & Chiffres

Facts and figures in 2020 from the “Noma” program in Niger

Sentinelles rescued 300 children who were followed through the different stages of their care

The care component: the reception center

  • 60 new children with noma were taken care of by our teams
  • 29 children with noma were fully treated and their reintegration assured (files closed)
  • 28 people on average stayed at the center each month (min: 11 in April, max: 37 in February, August and October)
  • 183 consultations for screening and/or treatment of gingivitis, acute necrotizing gingivitis, thrush and candidiasis prevented possible cases of noma

The care component: surgical missions

  • 18 children with noma were operated on
  • 2 children were presented in surgical consultation in anticipation of complex management
  • 2 children who were to be transferred to Switzerland in 2020 could not be transferred because of Covid-19. Their transfer is postponed to 2021
  • 1 surgical mission was carried out with 2 partners (Hilfsaktion Noma e.V., Interplast Germany e.V.)

The prevention and awareness component

  • 7’286 targeted people were sensitized in 241 localities in rural and urban areas (2’498 villagers, 3’814 religious representatives, 459 matrons, 233 village chiefs, 272 health workers, 10 teachers) attended these sessions;
  • 310 students from 3 health schools were trained in early detection, management and prevention of noma
  • 45 NGO staff members were sensitized to noma detection and prevention
  • 272 health workers from more than 200 health facilities were trained in early detection, management and prevention of noma;
  • 2 radio awareness spots were created to be broadcast widely by community radios to raise awareness among local populations
  • 269 children suffering from gingivitis were detected during awareness sessions in villages or neighborhoods

Social component: follow-up in the bush

  • 730 visits in the bush were made during the year
  • 351 households received support from Sentinelles: 95 of them received food aid, which represents more than 15 tons of millet, the staple food in Niger;
  • 147 children were monitored in their schooling;
  • 6 young people received vocational training assistance;
  • 1 four-week vacation course organized by Sentinelles brought together 25 children (school support), 4 young people (vocational training) and 3 teachers to supervise them and encourage them to continue their schooling or training;
  • 15 families of noma victims received economic assistance to develop an income-generating activity in order to become independent.

Work team

In Niger: 21 local collaborators

  • 1 field coordinator
  • 1 administrative assistant
  • 3 persons in charge of the care, awareness and social components
  • 3 qualified nurses
  • 2 social assistants
  • 1 animator
  • 3 drivers
  • 2 cooks
  • 2 stewards
  • 3 guards

In Lausanne: 2 employees

  • 1 program manager (100%)
  • 1 employee of the “Childcare” program in close connection with this program

Expenses in 2020

CHF 311’570

Our Partners
  • Human Appeal International (HAI).
  • Niger-Amitié.
  • Association Au Coeur du Niger: schooling of children victims of noma in the association’s boarding school in Zinder.
  • Yara LNC Association, GRYK boarding school, Zinder
  • Bucco-Dental Center of Zinder


Senegal is a West African country with a population of more than 16 million, half of which is under 20 years old. Ranked 168th out of 189 in 2019 by the UNDP1, with a human development index of 0.512, it is among the countries with low human development, just like the other countries in the sub-Saharan zone.

Independent since 1960, the Republic of Senegal, led since 2012 by President Macky Sall, has found a certain balance and remains one of the most stable countries in Africa. Yet it operates at two speeds, and disparities are still strongly marked between urban and rural areas. Although access to health services is among the best in West Africa, life expectancy is still only 63 years.

Unpredictable rainfall can still affect agricultural production, while shocks in neighboring countries (Ebola epidemic, increased insecurity in Mali and the region as a whole) could result in a slowdown in tourism, trade, and transportation in Senegal. The poverty rate has reached 46% according to the latest estimates.

Despite considerable efforts in terms of education budgets, only 69% of children are enrolled in primary school and many children do not have access to it.

Koranic education is still the sole source of education. Indeed, school is compulsory and has to be paid for, which means that many parents in disadvantaged regions entrust their children, sometimes as young as 4 years old, to a marabout. In the daara, the child will receive religious instruction, as well as learning humility, respect, perseverance and community life. However, with the worsening of the economic context and the appearance of many impostors and exploiters, the living conditions of these children have become excessively difficult, especially in urban areas. Without access to health care and education, and often forced to beg for food, they risk beatings and sometimes severe abuse if they do not bring a certain amount of money to the marabout every day.

Although Senegal ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1991 and the law of April 29, 2005 against begging was passed on “the fight against trafficking in persons and related practices and the protection of victims of trafficking,” these laws and conventions are still not enforced. According to the Partnership for the Removal and Reintegration of Street Children (PARRER) and Human Rights Watch, between 50,000 and 76,000 children beg throughout Senegal.

Child care: 

Coming from poor families, many children remain without care, due to lack of means.

Children who are victims of serious pathologies, injured, burned, cardiac, crippled or mutilated, they will be taken in charge by Sentinelles after a thorough social investigation has been done. They will then be cared for, within the means available, in Senegal. In order to make the family more responsible, a financial contribution is requested, however small, when the family is able to provide it.

We always give preference to treatment performed on site by competent surgeons or during surgical missions organized by Sentinelles or its partners.

However, children who cannot be operated on in Senegal, and who are sometimes in danger of dying, will be transferred to Switzerland when possible, in close collaboration with the specialists and hospitals concerned (relay with the “Care in Switzerland” program).

When a child is taken into care, his or her medical and social follow-up continues in his or her place of residence for as long as the situation requires. Once the child has recovered, we ensure that he or she can attend school or take a vocational training course.

Faits & Chiffres

Facts and figures of the Blind Driving Kids program in 2020

1987, program opened

In 2020

  • 48 families have been followed in Mbour, Kaolack and Fatick, that is to say, 165 children
  • 120 children in school
  • 15 young people in vocational training
  • 23 children too young to follow the school curriculum.

Facts and figures on the actions of the Talibé Children program in 2020

1987, opening of the program. Sentinelles has rescued XXX children

In 2020

  • 6 daaras in Mbour have been monitored for health, social and educational needs
  • 420 talibés received social follow-up, medical consultations and care when necessary
  • 240 talibés have followed a school curriculum or literacy courses
  • 6 talibés outside the daara benefited from social and/or medical follow-up and/or a return to their families.

Facts and figures on the 2020 actions of the Child Care program

In 2020

  • 54 children suffering from various pathologies or after-effects of accidents followed
  • Surgical mission with the University Hospital of Geneva (HUG) and the AEMV, in collaboration with the Hospital A. Le Dantec Hospital, for a plastic surgery for 2 young girls aged 14 and 15 years with severe burns after-effects and surgery for 2 women with tumors
  • 1 woman with a maxillofacial tumor benefited́ from a transfer to Switzerland and a surgical intervention
  • 1 Guinean child received surgery following trauma to her left eye; she also received a prosthesis.

Working teams

In Senegal: 8 local collaborators

  • 1 expatriate delegate
  • 4 social assistants
  • 1 accounting secretary
  • 2 guards

In Lausanne :

  • 1 program manager at 60%.

Expenses in 2020: CHF 221,743

Our Partners
  • Future of the child
  • Center for the disabled of Mbour
  • Handisable
  • RADDHO (African Meeting for the Defense of Human Rights)
  • AEMO (Action éducative en milieu ouvert), Mbour
  • Marple Afrique Solidarité́, Saly
  • CPRS (Center for promotion and social reintegration), Mbour
  • Center for the Blind of Mbour


Child Care Program in Switzerland

The main pathology treated in this program is noma (see Noma Program). In addition to causing the death of approximately 80% of children, noma causes significant functional, aesthetic and psychological after-effects and requires, when the disease has caused severe after-effects, surgical treatment to enable the children to regain a harmonious face.

The reconstructive surgery that allows children to regain a face includes plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery, as well as maxillofacial surgery. This treatment requires very important technical and human resources and depending on the nature and severity of the injury, it cannot be performed in the child’s country of origin. In this case, the child is transferred to Switzerland to receive the care to which he/she is entitled.

Noma is the main pathology requiring a transfer but, exceptionally, other pathologies can be treated (e.g.: tumor).

Faits & Chiffres

Care in Switzerland

Opening of the program in 1990.

Facts and Figures in 2020 of the “Care in Switzerland” program

Sentinelles rescued 8 children, including:

Surgical Component

Transfers to Switzerland:

  • 8 patients, 5 of whom were already present in 2019, stayed in Switzerland at the Terre des hommes “House” in Massongex. Of the 8 patients, 2 are adults. 2 returned for the second and respectively the fourth time, after a first stay as a child.
  • 17 interventions were carried out this year in Switzerland for a total of 156 days of hospitalization
  • 6 days of hospitalization in the quarantine hospital Riviera-Chablais
  • 5 children who arrived last year continued their treatment during this year
  • 3 new patients were transferred to Switzerland during this year for treatment
  • 6 patients returned home this year after their operation
  • 93 medical consultations were carried out on an outpatient basis in the various hospitals
  • 1319 days of accommodation at “la Maison” in Massongex
  • 7 convoys were carried out by ASF
  • 6 patients were seen for dental consultations before their return home

The suspension of operations at the University Hospitals of Geneva and of commercial flights has resulted in a significant decrease in the number of transfers and the extension of stays at the Terre des Hommes Valais reception center in Massongex

Working teams

In Lausanne:

  • 1 program manager at 50%.

Expenses in 2020: CHF 59’463

Our Partners
  • HUG
  • TDH Lausanne
  • TDH Valais
  • Hôpital de Rennaz
  • ASF
  • Hilfaction
  • Noma Hilfe