Sunday, 21 March 2010

Dear donors,

Here's a little update on our common project...

Our sponsoring fund is working out fine, we are able to give about 70.000 to 80.000 CFA (that's €100-120 or £70-80) to the school every month. We were hoping that would take charge of 2/3 of the costs for the poorer families and we were nearly there. 
But this year our dear director Mr Diatta (bless his generous heart!) has taken on 25 pupils that can't pay the school fees at all. So the school is still 50.000 to 60.000 CFA short every month. 

To keep up the percentage of paying students, he had the "annex" (the second building down the road that has several classrooms) repainted recently, so that the students there don't feel neglected in comparison to the ones in the main building. I was not in favour of this, thinking that paint on the walls instead of bare bricks should'nt be one of the priorities, but he very much insisted, as outer appearances are very important in Senegal and paying students are needed to keep the boat afloat.

The rainy season doesn't seem to have been worse than other years, he hasn't told me anything special about unusual illnesses or spectacular floodings. Of course, there is still the "regular" floodings, with moskitoes, malaria and the usual.

The school's partnership with Dakar Women's Group (the organisation I was with when I was still in Dakar) has led to contacts with others, and the Senegalese branch of the Danish company Maersk has helped with investing in school books. One of Mr Diatta's dear projects was for the school to buy their own books, so that the families don't have to buy them, but can rent them for a small fee. The problem was how to buy the first books, because that was a big investment. Maersk has been helping for two years now and 4 levels already have their books. The last two levels will hopefully get their books at the end of 2010. That alleviates the costs for the families.

Also, there is a company that will soon give away 20 used computers and the school will hopefully get one of them. The computer I left with them (in December 2008 when we moved away) had a problem a few months ago and was sent out to be repaired. When the young man who picked it up from the repair shop came back with it and stepped off the bus, he lost his balance and the computer fell on the ground and was apparently smashed beyond repair. That's what you get for being reasonable and saving on a taxi fare.

The French women's club in Dakar paid for the last tables and benches that were needed.

As Christiane has now also left Dakar, it is Elry who has taken over the task of delivering the monthly contributions to the school in Thiaroye. Thank you very much for that, Elry! The organisations help with material and punctual needs, but they can't help the families with their school fees. Sponsoring funds, sponsoring single children and paying school fees usually does not comply with their requirements. That's where we come in. Even though Christiane and I are back in Europe, there is regular communication and regular control about what is happening to the money you guys give me. If I'm not updating this blog more often, then mainly because I would only write "everything is fine, same old, same old...". :-)

So, let's keep up our efforts, this is a worthy cause. To quote a friend of mine: "Education is the ticket out." So let's make sure those kids get some.

Thank you!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Again, it has been months since I updated this page. 
In April, we had a stall at the local "attic-sale" (vide-grenier) and managed to raise over 300 euros by selling books, toys, clothes and household things. We will also have a stall at the next sale on September 6. I have been collecting items to sell there and am hoping for pleasant weather and a good sale.

It is currently raining very heavily in Dakar and I suppose the whole quartier is suffering from the heat, the water, the mosquitoes etc. During the rainy season, there are also malaria outbreaks.

My husband left for Dakar on Monday and took along a whole suitcase of donations (art supplies, ball pens, clothes, sheets, blankets...). I wish I knew more people who travel from Toulouse to Dakar on a regular basis, in order to send along more donations. The things we don't use anymore here are indeed very valued somewhere else.

Wish me luck for Sunday's sale!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Back in France

I have to apologise for not posting on the blog for such a long time.
We moved back to France around Christmas and the readjustment to life in Europe has been a little difficult. 

In Dakar, Christiane A. has taken over my role as the sponsoring fund liaison with the school. She is the one who takes the money to the school every month, who gets the receipts signed and who checks the list with the students' names and their parents' signatures, to make sure they received the money.
We are in touch very regularly.
I still handle the donations and the dividing up the amounts and I tell her how much to take to the school every month.

Mr Diatta and I speak over the phone every 2 weeks or so and he tells me what's new at the school.

The very good news is that a Danish company based in Dakar wanted to sponsor educational projects and contacted Dakar Women's Group. The DWG Charity Committee steered them towards Ecole Ousmane Sembène and they liked the school. So they financed the school books for two grade levels. The school now has its own books for 6th grade and 5th grade. The students don't have to buy the books anymore, but they rent them from the school for 1/4 of the price. Mr Diatta thinks that each book can last four years and then there will be enough money to replace them.
Hopefully, two more grade levels will have books next year, and the two last ones the year after that.

The bad news is that one of the teacher has to have surgery. Mr Diatta sees it as his duty as his employer to finance at least part of this surgery. While it wasn't easy, he has managed to find the money for the surgery and it will be done very soon.

I am still trying to raise money for the sponsoring fund. Some of you will be reading this because you received my e-mail.

I will be selling things at our local "vide-grenier" (attic sale, or yard sale) on April 5. Anyone living in the Toulouse region can get in touch with me if they have things to donate that can be sold that day. There will be another vide-grenier in September and I will also accept donations for that.
Moraene's efforts (read below) are an inspiration and I will also organise cake sales, parties etc. over the summer to raise money.
Please feel free to contact me if you have other ideas, I am open to any suggestions.


I want to express our thanks to Moraene R., who sent us a contribution for the sponsoring fund from the UK. Moraene had friends over for coffee and cake and her friends made a donation for the school. At Christmas, she made sweets and sold them to a few friends in order to raise a little more money. Moraene, I know you are not wealthy and your efforts are very much appreciated. Thank you!

It has been over a year now that I started the sponsoring fund. The first sums I received, I divided in 12 and handed them over to the school over the 12 months of 2008. That money is now gone. We have had other contributions, and some regular donors who send money each month, but our goal of having 2/3 of the tuition fees paid for the 24 poorest children of the school is not reached yet...
Oh, how I hate this asking for money! But maybe you could smoke one pack of cigarettes less, or take out a book from the library instead of buying it, or skip dessert once at your favourite restaurant... and send us that money instead? 
If you have a Paypal account, you can click on the button to the left of the main page of this blog. If you don't have a Paypal account, please contact me and we'll find a way.

The kids and their parents are grateful...

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Thank you!

Janet O., who has been living in Dakar for a few years and will soon be moving back to the United States, is one of the DWG members who visited the school in May. She was so touched by what has been accomplished there that she gave us a donation for the sponsoring fund in June.
Now Janet wanted to give special attention to the school's teachers for the end-of-year holidays (Tabaski and Christmas) and has donated a "Holiday bonus" for each of them. Thank you very much, Janet! (and I won't forget that you had tears in your eyes when you gave me the envelope - you saw for yourself, you know it's a worthy cause)

Christiane A. came back from her trip to Germany in October with a contribution to the sponsoring fund. Thanks!

Janet P. teaches ESL as a volunteer in her county and has decided to give the collection her students gave her to Ecole Ousmane Sembène: "for textbooks and fun reading". Mr Diatta is supposed to write up a list of books but he just has not got around to it yet. As soon as I have the list, I will go and buy the books, Janet, and put up pictures on the blog.

Guy W. knows the school personally and is particularly devoted to getting the school a better computer equipment. He sent the printer in the summer and he hopes to send a larger donation and/or some computer supplies in the near future. I'll keep my fingers crossed, Guy.

Thank you very much! You all are making a difference.
But - and I hate to say this, because it sounds like begging and I hate that - it's not enough. Please, please, if you want to do something, send a couple of euros or dollars - for books, for dictionaries or for the sponsoring fund. It is needed and it will be very appreciated.

Antoine Diatta, me, Mrs Diatta and baby Patricia Christine

Monday, 17 November 2008

On the rails again

School started a month ago and the school is now full.

Many parents wait until November to send their kids back to school, because that way they don't have to pay the tuition fee for October when school only starts on the 13th or so. Mr Diatta was expecting about 500 pupils, he had 556 last Tuesday. Honestly, I don't know where he puts them! But he says it's so difficult to refuse the kids. So they're just as crammed into the classrooms as they were last year.

The flooding has gone back, as it hasn't rained again. There's only the odd puddle left.
The 12th classroom has been installed in a part of the library and a wall has been built to seal it off.

Mr Diatta has been very, very busy with the start of the school year, with the school's anniversary on November 11, but also on a personal level: his wife gave birth to a baby girl on October 21. 
I had been told to expect what followed then...: I'm proud and honoured to announce that I am a godmother again! Little Patricia Christine is a happy, pretty baby and I'm only waiting for Elke to send me her photos to put one up here.

It has now been exactly a year since I got involved into this project. The first donations to the sponsoring fund are coming to an end (I always divide donations into 12 equal parts for the following 12 months), so if you aren't going to spend everything on Christmas presents - think of giving a poor family the opportuntiy to lighten their load by helping pay for their child's tuition fees.