Just a small work update:
Ecole Maternelle: I have been helping a preschool (ecole maternelle-kids ages 2-6) in Ndioum with a pepinere and garden. Tried growing some sunflowers and lavender, but the seeds did not germinate at all…maybe too old. The kids are adorable and enthusiastic. I put the eldest class to work filling tree sacks and planting seeds. We “de-mysted” the new married couple in PC Senegal recently (Ivy and Nick are currently in training and came up north for their volunteer-visit). The four of us taught the kids about trees and seeded the pepinere with cashew, pomegranate, lime, mandarin, Cassia, leucaena, Ziziphus, tamarin, and mango seeds. Hopefully we’ll be able to plant many fruit trees in the preschool during the rainy season. Today I planted morning glory and cowpeas near some lattices we built to climb the outside of a classroom as a way to decrease heat inside the classroom. The kids and I also seeded moringa, bissap, okra, cucumber, dikon, carrot, onion, eggplant, cabbage, and hot peppers.
Ndioum college: Paul and I have started pepinering at the middle school. The middle school has few trees and a lot of hot sand. In addition, we have started the process of Michelle Sylvester Scholarship. The director chose nine gals who are good students, motivated, but lack the monetary means to pay for school fees and supplies. All nine candidates will receive 5,000 Fcfa (about $10) to pay next year’s school fees. We are in the process of getting teacher recommendations, interviews, and home-visits done for each of the girls before heading for vacation. After we get back into Senegal, we will proctor an essay-writing session and send everything to Dakar. The scholarship committee will select three from our nine girls to give an additional 15,000 Fcfa for notebooks, pens, and other school supplies. So far, the home visits have gone well but it is hard sometimes to see how difficult the lives of some of these girls are. The father of the girl with the highest grades out of the nine told us that if a man comes asking for her hand in marriage, he will give her away, putting her education in the hands of her new husband. Monday, we visited a girl whose father passed away less than a month ago. There does not appear to be any incoming money and we worry that this girl will have to drop-out of school to help out her family.
SeneGAD: Paul was in Thies recently to introduce the work of SeneGAD to new trainees. He went on a tour of all the training villages and presented SeneGAD’s projects and goals.
Mud rocket stoves: I went to a training by a fellow PCV who has spent most of his service perfecting the mud rocket stove. These stoves aim to increase the efficiency of burning wood as a way to decrease smoke and wood use. Most women in villages burn over an open flame. This mud stove directs smoke and heat through a combustion chamber to a mud-skirt that surrounds the entire base of a cooking pot. I hope I can build and teach people how to build these in Ndioum as a way to decrease the health hazards of breathing in the smoke and ash and decrease the environmental issues of cutting trees for firewood.
In other news, we are still living in the regional house. We were hopeful that we would be able to move before going on vacation, but it appears that the week we can move in is the same week we head down to Dakar.