Portrait - Justin

Justin

Born in 1970 in Baga, Togo, Justin Batanta earned his B.A. in Philosophy and Applied Social Sciences before pursuing a BA and MA in Ethical Philosophy of Development. Born in a traditional animist and polygamous family, he made sure he excelled in school to prove that even though he came from a family of farmers who had never gone to school or learned French, he too could do well. Motivated from the beginning by a desire to improve his family’s standard of living, he found a way to finance his studies, becoming aware of the poverty in which he was born but also about possible solutions for it.

He met Séda while he was still a student. As head of the youth theatre troupe,he met Séda who took him under his wing becoming his “spiritual father” and guided him in his theatre productions that aimed at raising awareness in society about certain traditions like early marriages, early pregnancies, school drop outs and polygamy which he had experienced first-hand. Inspired by the CIDAP’s message and by the chance to empower the rural population by imparting knowledge and tools, Justin headed back to the village after his university studies and joined the CIDAP instead of taking a more comfortable job teaching in Lomé. He affirms having “chosen to come back to the village to make sure that together we could kick start the rural movement, because it’s the only fight I found worth fighting as 90% of our people are farmers.”

Today Justin is a coordinator and trainer at the CIDAP. He is the principal liaison between the CIDAP and its various partners, and he continues, like every other member of the CIDAP, to work his own fields as well as the centre’s.

“We will never be rich in a Western manner, but through these small activities I believe we can relieve some of the people’s daily struggles.”

I hope that this example of bottom-up development gives many governments pause for thought and also causes international agencies to rethink the ways they bestow benevolence

- Caroline Ash, Science magazine, Washington DC