GIRLS LEADERSHIP CAMP and then some

Here is an old post from the week of the 18th of July:

The Podor department just finished with a week-long Girls leadership camp (10th to 16th of July).  The camp was held at the NGO Tostan’s regional house in Ndioum.  Each volunteer invited 4 female students from their community.  All girls were from the last grade in elementary school (CM2) or the first grade in middle school (6eme).  Jonno also invited 6 (3 of 4eme and 4 of 5eme grade) of his MSS girls from Taredji to act as junior counselors (JCs) for the camp.  In all we had 29 girls from Diambo Dialbe, Donaye Taredji,Ndioum,Aram Soubalo, Madina Ndiathbe, Boke Dialbe, and Boke Salsalbe.

Girls after an EE lesson on trash at Girls Leadership Camp

On the 9th of July, Jonno (with help from Paul and myself) lead a JC training to teach the older girls about their role and responsibilities as counselors and role models for the camp participants.  The other girls for the camp arrived the 10thof July.  The camp started the 10th and closed with a party for the participants and their parents on the 16th.  Each day of camp began with breakfast followed by an environmental lesson, a health lesson, and a guest speaker presentation before breaking for lunch.  After lunch the girls did an art/crafts activity, followed by a life skills session and then a cultural activity before dinner.  After dinner, the girls watched films like Planet EarthMulan, and Bend it like Beckham before heading to bed.

Environmental lessons taught by Sarah and myself covered trees/pepineres, moringa/nutrition, trash management, animals/ecology, and environmental issues.  Hygiene lessons taught by Amber covered basic first aid, dental hygiene, washing hands, and neem lotion.  Paul taught sexual health about HIV/AIDS and organized guest speakers: Madame Ly taught the girls about STIs and talked about her work as a matrone, Cheikh Diallo (Jonno’s host dad) talked about the right to education, Kadhiata Ba talked about her entrepreneurship women’s group who makes/sells yogurt and gardens while also providing trainings to surrounding villages.  I held sessions about tye-dye and pottery while Amber taught the girls to make homemade shampoos, conditioner, lipgloss, and face scrub.  Jonno and Hadiel taught life skill lessons about role models, forming short/long term goals, effective communication, and self-esteem.  Evan taught the girls about cultures around the world through sports, food, dance, and collages.

Group Photo of Girls from Leadership Camp

It was amazing to see girls from such different backgrounds making friends with each other and growing in confidence when voicing their opinions and ideas.  We hope the girls learned skills and knowledge that will help them make good decisions and motivate them to become the future leaders ofSenegal. On the last day, each girl invited a family member to come to Ndioum for a party.  We ate good food, the girls showed their parents and loved ones what they had been doing all week, Tidiane gave a small speech to the girls, the girls presented their action plans to help people in their communities, and each girl received a certificate for her achievements.

For the most part, the camp went really well although there were small issues such as name-calling, stealing, watching TV, and going outside unaccompanied.  The girls left Saturday afternoon, many of the counselors and girls crying sadly about leaving.  It was a long time for many kids to be away from home, but it also was a week filled with lessons that will hopefully affect how they live their lives.

Even with the camp ending, the excitement did not end.  As the camp came to a close, Hadiel and Jonno fell ill.  While Jonno recovered quickly, Hadiel’s fever mounted to a 105 deg F the following day.  With the sudden onset of her fever, Team Podor quickly moved into gear.  We managed to do a malaria rapid-test that came back positive, two lines appearing and not disappearing.  We got Hadiel her medication and into Tidiane’s car to Dakar the following morning.  She is doing well now, recovering and regaining her strength.  It was scary to see a friend get so sick so quickly.  A warning to people visiting malaria-infested areas: take precautions to prevent malarial symptoms—prophylaxis, using mosquito nets, etc.  We always think things like this won’t happen, and then they do to people who are close to us.

More photos to come on my flickr once I can get our internet to load up my huge back-log of pictures 🙂

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