African Heritage Celebration and Denver Senegal Humanitarian Foundation traveled to Senegal late this fall to visit communities where they have been working, building classrooms, providing teaching aids, and also to hold meetings with local authorities and residents to assess the impact their actions have had in the development of the various localities.
The trip was from November 8 through 30th.
The Colorado-based non-profit organizations have been supporting schools in the country for over a decade now.
This year African Heritage Celebration(AHC) distributed 1,240, textbooks to Elementary school children, along with notebooks and slates, Ouakam, Rufisque Bargny and Diorbivol, Senegal.
Supporters and volunteers make it possible for African Heritage Celebration to raise funds during annual events and provide to students the supplies needed for a good academic standing.
Forty nine thousands students of more than 42 schools in different regions of the country have directly received school supplies so far and many of those students are now in pursuit of higher education degree and/ or in training to become Senegal's next generation of leaders. AHC hopes they will help improve living conditions in their respective communities.
On November 15, when Denver Senegal Humanitarian Foundation's representatives Theresa Neuroth and Jordana LaChance led a group to Diorbivol, a festive atmosphere was reigning in the northern village, as is it always the case on such occasions. During its 5-day stay, the group enjoyed delicious food, great hospitality and a friendship Coloradoans have developed with Senegalese since November 1997, when a senseless act of hate crime ended the life of Oumar Dia, in Denver. Oumar Dia was an immigrant from Diorbivol. He worked at the Hyatt Regency hotel. Coloradoans and Diorbivol residents gathered at the village chief's house on November 18, which marked the 21st anniversary of the murder of Oumar Dia.
Through various meeting sessions with elders, teachers, parents and students, Coloradoans learned about the enthusiasm for Education and the important academic achievements students are making. Diorbivol schools' success rate is among, if not the highest, in the region. The children's motivation and the good quality of their education are attributed in part to the teachings aids and support Colorado groups provide each year to elementary and middle school students.
In 2010, Denver Senegal Humanitarian Foundation funded the building of a classroom in Diaocounda, a small village in the Southern region of Kolda. The school supplies DSHF provides serve also students in Anambe-Couta and Kounkane, in the area.
The Colorado group arrived in Diaocounda on the evening of November 22, to witness a parade of people singing and dancing that had formed along the main pathway leading to the Elementary school, at the other side of the village. It seemed that everyone was there to accompany the delegation to the school where it enjoyed a welcome ceremony of music and dances and series of wrestling matches, where students exhibited their prowess. The entertainment continued after dinner and well into the night.
The next morning, performances by talented local musicians and dancers were the opening acts to the gathering.
As in Diorbivol, students and teachers made testimonies of real progress and academic improvements. Parents expressed gratitude for the humanitarian actions.
The Colorado group ate good community lunch, drunk a lot of beverages, and left for the bigger village of Kounkane, late in the afternoon of Nov 23rd.
Theresa Neuroth, the president of DSHF spent three years living in the village of Kounkane, where she was assigned as a volunteer of American Peace Corps. One can observe and feel the warm relationship she built with the villagers, based on cultural values of hospitality and love are genuinely strong and have probably contributed to her yearning in finding ways in which she could be involved with development project for the communities,
AHC and DSHF volunteers, along with hundreds of Americans who traveled to Senegal over the years have established strong solidarity links with people in communities throughout the country. The period of time spent in rural environment and cities, sharing food, participating in ceremonies, enjoying songs, dances and rhythms , allow travelers and locals to engage in conversations of discovery and inquiry that result in mutual self-enrichment, the learning of life experiences and a better appreciation of a shared Humanity.