In 2008 -2009 the community kindergarten project was developed in response to the requests of families in the poorer communities of Nouakchott. A 2007 baseline survey revealed that roughly 80% of women in these neighborhoods had not completed primary school and 56% were illiterate. Furthermore, nearly 40% of families in these areas had a school-aged child who was not attending school. The project originally envisioned was as a day-care solution, allowing mothers to participate in literacy classes or to be involved in a small income-generating activity away from the home. However, given the low level of primary school completion in these communities and high student dropout rates, it quickly became evident that much more than day care was needed.
In 2010 we began to focus on working one on one with the kindergarten teachers to train them in more interactive teaching methods that use games, songs, crafts etc. to fully engage the children in learning. A high priority is placed on stimulating children's creativity and helping them develop a love and excitement about learning that the traditional methods in Mauritania of rote repetition and memorization cannot nurture. The kindergartens also give opportunities to discuss worldview, values and parenting skills with the families of enrolled children.
In addition to serving approximately 125 families whose children are enrolled in the kindergartens, the project indirectly serves many others in the communities as the kindergarten facilities are also used for training events such as in literacy, business training classes and parenting workshops.
Operation Mercy's local partner in Mauritania is the Doulos Community.