February 28, 2017 | Antananarivo (Madagascar)
On January 4, 2017, the "Maison Bénédicte" (Bénédicte’s Home) was inaugurated in Antananarivo. Its name commemorates the life of Dr. Bénédicte Contamin, who served as the head of Fondation Mérieux in Madagascar for almost a decade. The inauguration ceremony for the training and community center, which bears the name of the woman who initiated the first Fondation Mérieux mission to Madagascar in 2006, was attended by Alain Mérieux, Fondation Mérieux’s President, and its Director General, Benoît Miribel.
The building, which had stood empty for many years, is currently undergoing renovations, with support from the Mérieux Foundation. The center expects to open its doors in April, when it will be home to:
- Student accommodations, as the “Maison” is located in the vicinity of Antananarivo University,
- A space for training and retreats, managed by the Chemin Neuf Community of Madagascar, which will offer spiritual and ethical training,
- The Mission house for the Chemin Neuf Community of Madagascar, an ecumenical Catholic community in which Bénédicte and Antoine, her husband, were involved.
- The "Maison" will now be known as "Maison Bénédicte", in honor of Bénédicte Contamin who passed away on August 21, 2015 following a battle with cancer, after devoting her life to caring for the most vulnerable members of society.
Bénédicte was the Mérieux Foundation’s Regional Manager for the Indian Ocean, a post based in Madagascar. She was a specialist in internal medicine and infectious and tropical diseases. Her achievements include overseeing the creation of the Charles Mérieux Infectiology Center in 2010 with the support of Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux.
At the inauguration event for the center, her husband, Antoine Contamin expressed the wish that the "Maison Bénédicte" should be a place where young people can learn and work towards the common good for the country. Antoine Contamin, also a doctor, has been working with the Mérieux Foundation since late January, managing the Mother and Child initiatives.
The Mérieux Foundation in Madagascar
Over the past ten years, seven laboratories in Madagascar have been rehabilitated thanks to support from the Mérieux Foundation. The Foundation also offers technical support for the creation of a network of public hospital laboratories (RESAOLAB). A pharmacy course, the first of its kind in the Indian Ocean, was also launched in 2006 to bolster hospital pharmacy capacities.
The Foundation also built the Charles Mérieux Infectiology Center in Antananarivo University, home to a Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory, a BSL-2 level facility specializing in molecular diagnostics, a practical exercise room, and a conference room.
Bénédicte Contamin was instrumental in the foundation’s support of several local charities in Madagascar, like Akamasoa ("the good friends") of Father Pedro Opeka, which fights against poverty.