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.