During a boat tour down the 'Langue de Barbarie', Senegal volunteers learn a bit about Senegal’s ecological challenges. The Langue de Barbarie or the “Tongue of the Barbar” is a narrow peninsula that runs southward several kilometers from St. Louis. In 2003, a canal was cut 5 km south of St. Louis into the peninsula to help reduce flooding in St. Louis. It began as a slice 10 meters wide but quickly grew to about 1 km.
langue de barbarie
The decision to go forth with this plan was made without any sort of study on the environmental impact of the change. Six months after, the natural mouth of the river closed and moved up to the canal opening. Since then, the ocean current has continued to push the sand southward widening the rift. This movement disrupts fishing and farming practices in the region and is destroying the ecology of the region, which hosts a wildlife national park.
The canal has also increased the level of salt in the river and soil of the region and is pushing fields away from the town. There have been fewer fish present in the river than ten years ago, and saltwater species have replaced freshwater species. Beyond the ecological implications, the canal opening has caused social problems in the area. The struggling economy has encouraged urban migration, which further deepens development problems in the region. Women are also often left behind as men travel to other parts of Senegal and abroad in search of better fishing and agricultural opportunities.
Most volunteers have a few host brothers and sisters, but one Senegalese home stay has extended the family further. Volunteer Stephan Heinz lives not only with five other family members, but also a cow.
Stephan stumbled upon his new home companion a few weeks ago when he was visiting the restroom in the night and was surprised when the calf popped her head through the darkness. Since then, the cow has been wandering through the house---walking in front of the television, resting on the mother's bed and overseeing the family as they eat 'thieboudienne', a popular Senegalese meal with rice and fish.
The cow is named 'Rabbi', also the name of one of the host sisters, and is staying with the family because the cow's mother is dying, they told Stephan.
While sharing a roof with the cow initially startled Stephan, he has since become accustom to the heifer.
Last Friday a celebration called 'Korite' marked the end of Ramadan. Ramadan is an Islamic month of fasting that falls during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During this period, Muslims are expected to not eat or drink from dawn to sunset.
Many Projects Abroad volunteers spent the holiday with their host families; eating and visiting neighbors.
It is common to buy a new traditional Senegalese outfit for the occasion. Volunteer Isis Rodriguez-Cortes is pictured here with her new outfit and host siblings.
Volunteer Charlotte Baker has been producing a documentary film for the past month. She was working with the Human Rights project and decided to do a film about street children in St. Louis. She had no film experience but was able to figure out how to both shoot film and edit her footage with no direction. It ended up being a 20-minute film, including sub titles.
Senegal's volunteers were able to see it last Wednesday when we met for the weekly quiz. The crowd was impressed.
Charlotte will be showing the film to schools in Wales hoping children in her community will donate things like athletic shoes to the children in St. Louis. She will give the film to former and present Senegal Projects Abroad volunteers who are interested in showing the film to schools in their area as well.
For more information contact Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer Hayden Conrad performed his saxophone with local music group Maman Sadio Friday night in front of a full house at the Tavern bar.
Hayden brought his saxophone to Senegal thinking he could get some practice in while away from home. One afternoon he was stopped by the bass player for Maman Sadio who saw Hayden's instrument in hand. They talked for a bit and the musician asked him if he would like to join the group for a few songs during their next performance.
Many of the volunteers are regulars to the group's weekly performance, but it was quite an honor to have one of our own on stage!