A successful start!!Posted: April 26, 2011
One of the projects that I have been working on is with a group called “Friends of Nature”. The man who runs this group sought me out when he heard Thomas (the volunteer before me) had been replaced. He came to my house and gave me a brief explanation of what their organization does. Pretty much it’s some local people who volunteer their time trying to help the environment and educate the local people about how to work with the environment. When Jacques, my contact with Friends of Nature, approached me I will honestly say that I had no idea how I could help him, I mean I’m a SED volunteer and have no agricultural experience so how can I help these guys who are all about nature???
Well after a few meetings with them an idea came to, I suggested that we work with the local middle school, where we meet and two of the guys are teachers, and have a clean-up day at the school. I don’t know if I have mentioned this before or maybe you have seen it through my pictures, but the Senegalese aren’t really well known for their waste management, they just throw things where ever they stand. So I thought maybe if we can start teaching kids at a young age they will grow up with the habit of throwing things into a garbage can rather than on the ground. The people from Friends of Nature thought it was a great idea and two weeks ago we had a meeting with all the teachers at the middle school to get their input on it. They agreed to have a clean up day and scheduled it for last week. Now things here in Senegal usually don’t happen as quickly as expected nor when they are expected, so when I didn’t hear from my Friends of Nature contact I just thought that they were running behind schedule. However, to my delight I found out today that I was wrong, last Friday the school had their clean up day and all the kids came out to help clean up the school (honestly I will say I’m a little disappointed they didn’t let me know because I would have loved to have been there to help) and the teachers are excited about the next steps!! So that was a success, I will ride by the school and snap some pictures to show everyone what a great job they did.
So what are the next steps? Well when we met with the teachers I proposed that each student brings in 100CFA (that equals about $0.20) to start a collection for garbage cans for the school. Today Jacques told me that he found out that there are garbage cans in each classroom so now I am hoping to work with the teachers and director of the school to work on reinforcing throwing things in the garbage. Once the students get that down well, I want to do a training with them and the teachers on how to separate organic and inorganic material (of course that will be done in conjunction with one of the agricultural volunteers here). In teaching them to separate their garbage, I hope that we can start a compost pile with the organic material, this will also help to reduce how much garbage actually gets burned, that’s how they get rid of the garbage for now, but we’re hopefully working on a better way. With the compost pile I would then like the school to start their own garden and teach the kids about proper nutrition. Now this is a lot of stuff to teach but I’m hoping that the success of the clean up will help carry us through to the next step. Also, I’m hoping once they start to see the fruits of their labor the kids will want to keep it up.
Friends of Nature are so happy with how this first step went that they are hoping to do the same thing in all the schools through Kedougou. I would love for this to work because I am hoping that the kids, from elementary school to high school, take this knowledge home and share it with their families so that we might be able to create a trickle down effect. I don’t know if all of this will be finished by the time I’m done with my service but I’m hoping that I can get a good part going and whoever follows me will be able to keep it up!! One small step!!