Water Health Educator
Issues West Africa: Senegal Study
Tawa Fall Thies, Senegal
by Oriane Boudinot
During the summer of 2010, I volunteered at the InterAction Development Forum in Washington D.C. The first day, I met an African man who was having difficulty speaking English, and this is how I met Serigne Saliou. Over the course of the three day conference, we spoke a lot about our work and experiences abroad, as well as the organization he started in Thies, Senegal.
A few months after his departure back to his country, I bought a plane ticket to Senegal. I travelled there in the winter 2010-2011, for 6 weeks. I spent my time with the various people involved in the project, including at Serigne Saliou’s house. I also spent some time at Tawa Fall, in order to visit the site, and spend time with the children.
Currently, there are 26 boys living there. The site consists of a fairly large piece of land, which is currently not being used for agriculture, since they have had problems with water availability. There are a couple of buildings, which is where the children sleep, eat, receive their education, and keep the animals (2 donkeys). There is a small well, which only provides enough water for cooking, cleaning and washing. There is also a chicken coop under construction, which would hopefully house up to 1000 chickens in the future. There are two teachers who live with the children, and the rest of the project members, including Serigne Saliou, visit Tawa Fall every couple of weeks.
Currently, the needs of this small community are not being met. The community needs access to more water in order to give the ability to clean and cook, but also sustain agricultural projects. They have successfully received 5 kilos of agro forestry, which I had put them on a list with The International Center to receive free of charge. These seeds will be planted for the next wet season, and would be able to survive through the dry season with a second well, which has access to more water.
There are plans for the future to have more children, and more teachers. Even more buildings are planned for the future. However, without the basic needs met, quantity will not be better than quality.
During my stay at Tawa Fall, I spent a lot of time with the children. The site has never had any electricity, so it gets very quiet at night. During the day however, there is much to be done, from cleaning, cooking, caring for the donkeys, and fetching water.
One of my goals during my trip was to plant fruit trees. Since I knew they would be receiving agro forestry seeds, Jennifer (a friend who came to visit me for 9 days) and I decided that in order to involve all the children in this future project, we should buy a fruit tree for each child. This delighted the children, to receive their own fruit tree, that they would have to take care of, and would be able to the fruit within a few years. Jennifer and I also decided that we wanted to spend a day teaching the children about agro forestry. We brought some coloring materials, and paper with the outline of the Moringa tree, which is also known as the “miracle tree”. What we did not know is that none of the children had ever colored before. This was amazing to see their smiles when they realized that they would be able to color for their first time.
I also had the opportunity to spend New Year’s Eve at Tawa Fall. Tawa Fall is considered a daara, which is where children learn the Koran. This means that the day before the new year, there are many people who come from surrounding villages, and even Dakar to pray for the new year. There are major festivities, and lots of cooking. I spent a long time with the women watching them cut the vegetables, and prepare for the meal. At the end of the day, Serigne Saliou did a speech in front of everyone who had attended, in which he praised me for travelling to his country in order to help this community. In that moment, I truly felt like I had already made a difference. I know that although the well has not yet been built, the fact that I speak with members of the project on a daily basis is much appreciated as well.
I will always be in contact with this community in Senegal. I intend to stay in touch, and keep worker with the local community.
The first project I am involved in is building a well. The second will be to successfully cultivate the land and use agro forestry techniques to their advantage. The third, I do not know yet, but I know that there will be more things to accomplish for this community to be sustainable, and one day receive more children, including girls. Every time a project will be accomplished, I plan to travel to Senegal in order to see the changes and advancements, but also to record and take pictures of the site, in order to show others what our collaboration is accomplishing. [email protected]
How a Water Project Would Help Tawa Fall
By Rebecca Shore
Tawa Fall is a small village located five miles away from the Thiés town in the Fandéne rural community of Senegal. Ten years ago, in 2001, the Marabout, Serigne Saliou Mbacke, started an organization called the Center for African Assistance and Protection of the Environment and as of today, only one project remains, the Tawa Fall program. Tawa Fall is a school where 26 kids can receive religious and academic education, as well as professional training. However the village and school are facing serious water issues because of lack of access to clean water and a sustainable water system.
Currently, Tawa Fall has one well, in which they have enough water for food and drinking. The boys living at Tawa Fall do not like to bathe in the water because it is extremely cold and uncomfortable. As a result, many of the kids have severe skin rashes because they do not have a way to properly clean themselves or their clothes. Additionally, the well does not provide enough water for other important needs, such as cleaning the buildings, growing crops and trees, or sanitation. Tawa Fall would greatly benefit from the addition of another well in the village.
George Mason University’s Patriots for Pure Water is currently raising $2,000 for Tawa Fall, so that they can build a second well in the village. This well will go two times deeper (about 45 meters) than the original well. It will access the aquifer below the rock, which means the water they would retrieve would be much cleaner for drinking and cooking. The money that P4PW is raising will have many different uses; it will buy adequate equipment to properly build the well, a motor so they would not have to hand collect the water unless necessary, and equipment to improve the distribution of the water.
The addition of another well in Tawa Fall would significantly better the water problems that the village is facing. With the addition of the second well, the villagers would not have to buy bottled water or go to the market to buy food anymore. They would have a greater supply of clean water for drinking and enough water to start planting crops. As a result, they would be able to spend less money on those things and more money on their education and making themselves sustainable. Also, the second well would water for the village to feed their animals and build a pond to raise fish.
In the end, a second well in Tawa Fall would positively affect life in the village. Not only would they become self-sustainable, but they would also be able to bring more boys to the school for education.
My Volunteership in Senegal
by Oriane Boudinot
Last June 2010, I volunteered at the InterAction International Development Forum, and as a volunteer I was assigned to the front. The first morning, there was Serigne Saliou Mbacke, trying to register, but he was having problems with the english, so I ended up helping him and translating for him. We spoke quite a few times during his one month trip to the US, and I gave him the idea for agroforestry, which he had never heard of. I got him on a pist to receive free agroforestry seeds, through an internship I had at the International Center (He is scheduled to receive them actually quite soon now).
Then in Sept, I decided that I was going to go to Senegal, because he had told me that I could come for as long as I wanted, and that I could come wotk with him at Tawa Fall. So I got a plane ticket, and left for the winter break 2010-2011. He picked me up from the airport, and I spent the whole time either with him, or with a friend/family member whom he trusted. It ended up being a great trip. I did not know what to expect, but I was very happy that I went, and had this experience, and to still be in contact with them on a weekly basis is also great.