Chellal ko Afo Ngaalu

Health is the premier gift.

If you are not healthy, you cannot work. If you are not healthy, you cannot farm, you cannot care for your children, you cannot cook. If you are not healthy, you cannot do anything. Health comes first. It is so simple but often taken for granted.

Lamine Abass Kane is the surveillance de ecole college Mbolo Birane (the middle school surveyor). He works closely with all teachers, staff, students, and families. He was the one I worked with for the Michelle Sylvester Scholarship last year (coming soon, keep your eyes out for info) because he has a relationship with every single student and their family. He is the one person in perhaps the entire village who knows every single person, including children, and knows their personalities and tendencies.

When Lamine mentioned that he wanted to do a program about hygiene and waste disposal, I couldn’t refuse. This came up after a recent event in which the Miss Senegal of Paris, France – this year Ms Wuri Ba, from Mbolo Birane, came back for a visit and sensibilitization program. Her award for winning Ms Senegal was a paid trip back to her home country and the financing for an educational program of her choice. She chose hygiene and malaria. Her village sweeping program was a hit. All day, the village gathered and swept the area around the main market. This had such a great turnout and created such a visible difference, that it became a weekly activity- every Sunday. Headed now by Lamine Abass. The program continues to this day, but ever since the first day it was evident that the materials are extremely lacking. People end up standing around waiting for their turn at the one take or passing off brooms, arguing over who’s turn it is next. The grant I have purposes would help finance the availability of brooms, rakes, wheelbarrows, metal collection bins and personal protection equipment such as gloves and masks. This program is focused on helping them help themselves.

The main form of dealing with trash in Senegal and other developing countries is to burn it. This, obviously, is terrible for the environment and for those nearby. 

This, however, is not common knowledge. In Mbolo Birane currently, the waste disposal/collection/burning site used to be outside the village boundaries but, due to growth (machallah), this area has become a more central area in the village – children running through, picking through smoldering pieces of this and that, the wind taking the fumes into the houses while mothers cook. With these materials, the village would be able to move this trash area to a further away point, away from people and families.

Here’s where you can help! This is a Peace Corps Partnership Grant, meaning it is a joint effort between Senegalese and American people. The community members here are providing all available rakes, brooms, and equipment from their houses as well as the time and labor (and sweat because it’s hot as death here). We, Americans, can provide the means that they may not be able to achieve themselves. Here’s the link 

https://beta.peacecorps.gov/donate/project/health-is-the-premier-gift/#amount-form

Please note the ‘other amount’ option because I do not want any one person to donate a huge weight that they cannot afford. Little bits go a long way. This is something I’ve learned time and time again here. Little by little, we reach our goals.

Mbolo Birane knows that this program is being made possible by my ‘koreggi’ – family and friends. They thank me a hundred times over for everything that my friends and family are able to contribute and I feel completely honored to be the face of my community and relatives back home to my community here. You are all the ones to be thanked. It is through your support that I am able to make this two year mission a success. If it weren’t for the support I have back home, I wouldn’t be where I am. 

Ajaraama no fewi- Thank you so much.

May Allah yob moyyere- may God pay you in goodness 

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