As my service draws to a close, I have found myself frantically rushing about my village trying to wrap up all of my major projects. These are a few snapshots of them attending training’s, creating programs, and bettering their communities.
Faoye Mangrove Reforestation
In August, I traveled a few hours to the seaside fishing village of Faoye. Like many fishing communities in Senegal, Fayoe has been adversely impacted by the destruction of mangrove forests in the brackish waters they fish. Over decades they have been forced to travel further and further to find fish which continue to diminish in size. Without the protection of the salt resistant mangroves, the farmlands of the village are slowly being poisoned with salt which enters the ground water.
To combat this, two local Volunteers organized a reforestation effort which will provide new habitats for aquatic species and reduce the amount of salt infiltrating the farmlands. Together, 8 Volunteers and 28 community members traveled in local fishing boats to a small mud flat. The community members were a mix of older, respected fishermen and younger fishermen learning the trade.
The local Volunteers, Christi and Henry, showed everyone how to properly plant a baby mangrove, known as a propagule. With everyone prepared, we lined up across the mud and marched in lockstep, ensuring each tree was planted two meters apart. Naturally, our formation lasted for about a minute before it dissolved into chaos. Community members and Volunteers alike crawled through the mud in uneven blobs, planting trees where they went. By that afternoon we had planted 15,000 trees in 3 hectares (7.4 acres).
Mud Stoves Training of Trainers
The culmination of my mud stoves project took place in May when I trained 25 men and women from three villages as community trainers. At this training, they learned to construct mud stoves, organize and lead training’s, and grow trees for fuel. Over two days they traveled around the village constructing practice stoves, learning new teaching techniques, and developing action plans to build stoves in their villages. Now, nearly 50 stoves dot the kitchens of local villages, improving the lives of women and children on a daily basis.
Thies Regional Girls Empowerment Camp
In September myself and 18 other Volunteers welcomed 43 girls to our annual Camp SeneGIRL in Thies. We kicked off a week of personal exploration, women’s empowerment and camp-style fun. We held sessions on growing herbs at home, planting nutritious trees, making soap, preventing malaria, team building, preventing violence against women, environmental protection and much more! I was the lead organizer of the camp and spent my week running around to ensure everything ran smoothly.
By the end of the week I was exhausted. We had full days of programming and lots of moving parts to coordinate, not to mention 43 girls to get to know. In the end, it was all worth it when my cousin Khemese began crying because she didn’t want to go home. She had such a wonderful time that she wanted to stay at camp with her friends and her role models. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect thank you.
Michele Sylvester Scholarship
For the second year in a row, I implemented Peace Corp Senegal’s Michele Sylvester Scholarship program in my village. This program provides nine scholarships and school supplies for the top female students at local middle schools. The program aims to promote girls education by ensuring girls have access to school. In October I paid their yearly school fees, purchased their school supplies, and taught them to plant guava trees in their compounds. They went home with 2 guava seedlings to help guarantee food security for their families when they fruit in a few years.