News

Sharing the realities of clandestine migration
Mar 21, 2018

Over the last ten years an enormous number of African men and women have attempted migration to Europe in search of a better life. Too often, as the news constantly reminds us, that better life is not to be found: the journey from West Africa to Libya is often fatal; those who do make it to the coast may not make it across the Mediterranean; and the well-paying job in Europe never materializes for those without a legal right to be there.

This reality, as Le Korsa has learned, is misunderstood by so many in Senegal, and most often by the very young men and women who would risk their lives as migrants. Le Korsa is acting to change that. We have launched a series of film screenings and discussions throughout the Tambacounda region that educate potential migrants and their families about the hazards of the journey. Arranged and coordinated by our staff, the screenings unite mothers, daughters, sons, teachers, artists, local leaders and so many more to see true accounts of migrants, and to discuss how the resources devoted to migration—often substantial sums of money—could be better used in Tambacounda.

After the first screening in Sinthian of “Alpha/Aisadou,” a short film about a mother in Sinthian and her son who has left the village for a precarious life in Sicily, one young man stood up and said, “I planned to sell my goats and leave for Europe, but now I plan to keep them and make a life here.” On March 8, International Women’s Day, we arranged another screening in Tambacounda, thanks to the support of “Niani Wouli,” a women’s group whose members have lost the men in their lives to migration. Afterwards, many women in the audience stated that they would no longer support migration, and would encourage others to speak out.

We have much work to do. Eighteen more screenings are planned for the coming months, thanks to the tireless organization of Massamba Camara. And none would be possible without the six incredible films, created by Alberto Amoretti and Giovanni Hänninen, each of which focuses on a different theme of migration from Senegal to Sicily.

We also thank you, our donors, because your generosity makes such programs possible. If you would like to contribute to this effort, please visit our secure donation page. Thank you.

– Andrew Seguin, Director of Communications

To view the trailer of “Alpha/Aisadou,” please click here: https://vimeo.com/258309032/0ed32a12f3

Fass’s school, ready to change lives
Feb 21, 2018

The celebration of the school in Fass on Tuesday, February 13, was beyond thrilling. It marked years of preparation and negotiations by Le Korsa and Dr. Magueye Ba with the local leaders, who finally agreed two years ago to allow Le Korsa to build a non-Koranic school, the first ever in the village. It is a sea change for Fass, where illiteracy is nearly total. The outward look that secular education will bring to the children of Fass is palpable in the school’s design, which is airy and circular, dappled by light, and from every point open to the world.

Laurel Hixon and Michael Keane, who made the school’s construction possible through donations and fundraising, were on hand to see the structure for the first time. Jordan MacTavish, who designed the school, was there, too, to see it filled with students and truly come alive. But no one could have been more excited than the future students themselves, who already feel at home in the school’s inviting spaces. There is still some construction to complete, including thatching the roof, so the students won’t attend classes there until next fall, but the feeling of progess in Fass is incredible. Thanks to all who made it possible.

Wassadou’s garden, revitalized
Jan 31, 2018

Brian Harris sent this amazing report back from Wassadou Medical Center, where we have worked to replant and restore the garden that once provided food to the staff and patients.

“The nearly two hectares of land behind the Wassadou Medical Center, with a well run dry and a very recent, all-consuming bush fire, could have easily fallen back into dense, useless, scrub land. With a grant from World Connect, we were able to empower Njaree Ngom to deepen the well, and to hire two gardeners and a technician. The garden here has enormous potential, and having only started on January 1st, I am thrilled with what has already been accomplished.

The produce, used in both the hospital for staff meals and for sale on the market, can supply nutritious food to the center and the neighboring communities. On my visit, I met a cheerful Dr. Ndaiy, walking with a young Premier Urgence staffer named Clementine, who was infectiously optimistic about expanding the garden in the entire two hectares.”

We’ll send back another report from our February trip to Senegal.

A market garden is coming to Wassadou
Nov 02, 2017

Wassadou medical center, located between Tambacounda and Kedougou, is a crucial health outpost for the rural villages of the area. The center’s doctors and staff all live on site, and once upon a time they had a beautiful market garden that provided food for meals as well as income for the center. But in recent years, due to a lack of resources, they could no longer care for the garden and its many fruit trees. The center lost an immediate source of food and income, and the staff’s morale dropped as a result. So we’re thrilled to report that we’re bringing the garden back.

World Connect, who funded the Fass garden, has agreed to help us fund the restoration of the garden at Wassadou. To get it flourishing again, the Wassadou staff will be drilling a new bore well and devoting two full-time staff to watering, maintenance, and oversight of the crops. Habib Dieye, Le Korsa’s agricultural coordinator, will be offering his expertise to ensure Wassadou’s staff is properly trained in market gardening.

It’s an exciting development that means Wassadou Medical Center will again be operating at its full potential. With improved staff performance, and more income, the center is capable of treating 10,000 patients per year. We’ll keep you posted as the work begins.

Thread earns accolades in African Architecture Awards
Oct 17, 2017

We are delighted to announce that Thread has been awarded a Certificate of Merit in the 2017 African Architecture Awards. It stood out from over 300 submissions to the contest.

The awards inspired fierce debate about the identity of African architecture, and the jury’s decisions were made only after much dialogue and deliberation. You can read more about it in the Architectural Review.

We are thrilled to have been part of such an impassioned debate, and to have Thread be recognized among so many other excellent buildings and projects. Congratulations to Toshiko Mori and her team of architects, including Jordan MacTavish, who designed Thread!

Support beekeeping in Senegal
Sep 26, 2017

We have an amazing opportunity to help our friends in rural Sinthian, Senegal, earn money through beekeeping, and preserve their environment in the process. Please join us in supporting them and promoting a healthy ecosystem! You can make a donation on our Go Fund Me campaign page, https://www.gofundme.com/keeping-bees-creating-jobs, and learn more about the beekeepers and the incredible honey they are harvesting. Thank you so much for your support!

A third container of supplies for Tambacounda Hospital
Sep 05, 2017

We are thrilled to report that a third container of medical supplies, donated by Project C.U.R.E. and shipped by Le Korsa, arrived to Tambacounda Hospital last week.

This shipment, which included new beds, surgery tables, dental equipment, as well as plenty of basics such as gauze, gloves, and sanitizer, will allow the hospital’s staff to offer better care, and provide greater comfort to the many patients who visit the hospital.

But Tambacounda Hospital’s needs go far beyond supplies. It has difficulties in attracting enough qualified staff, because its salaries are not as high as hospitals in other regions, and its wards are often overcrowded. To help alleviate this problem, we are embarking upon an expansion and redesign of the maternity and pediatric wards with architect Manuel Herz, in close collaboration with Dr. Sylla and other staff. Undoubtedly, we will be sending more supplies to outfit those new wards when the time comes.

In the meantime, we remain grateful to Project C.U.R.E., and to our partners at Tambacounda Hospital, for all their hard work to make this shipment possible.

Summer Camp for Underprivileged Youth
Jul 26, 2017

In partnership with the Tambacounda Cultural Center, Le Korsa and Thread helped initiate a summer arts camp for handicapped and orphaned children in the region of Tambacounda, which ran from July 7-27.

The camp, which was staffed by local artists and performers, offered the students classes in painting, sculpture, ballet, and the transformation of gourds into musical instruments or bowls. The children also visited and stayed overnight at Thread, giving them a chance to learn about the art and community programs there, as well as to visit the banana growing region and learn more about the local agricultural economy.

Sinthian’s first honey harvest
Jul 17, 2017

Brian Harris, Le Korsa’s Director of Programming and Special Projects, just sent this report on the first honey to be harvested by the men’s apiculture group in Sinthian.

“Last week at Thread we received Kebby, our beekeeping guru from the Gambia. One year ago we were trained at their facility in Kombo – southeast of Banjul. Our novice beekeeping team at Thread had many questions on how to proceed and were delighted to have Kebby follow-up with us on site.

Great news: we harvested from 2 rushes and comfortably extracted the honey from the combs in our new transformation hut (situated in-between Thread and the rushes). Kebby tested the purity of the honey (with a special instrument that measures water content) and we found that the honey is the highest grade in West Africa (15% water content). It’s a clear, light-yellow color. You can taste floral accents within the rich sweetness of the honey. Kebby told us that this honey can be stored indefinitely and will fetch the highest price on the local and international markets. Similarly, the wax is an ideal color and consistency and can be used to make soap, candles or skin products.

We learned a lot from the visit – how to reorganize the rushes, equipment and the group’s work schedule. Maintenance of hives was stressed (preventing further black beetle attack). Kebby left us with a long to-do list and instructions on how to optimize our honey production and support the bee population in our area.

Looking forward, there is an exciting opportunity to involve the women’s group in the processing of bee’s wax into soap and other products. Furthermore, as the hives develop, we will see increased production of honey and can naturally increase the number of rushes.”

Alan Riding interviews Dr. Magueye Ba
Jul 13, 2017

At the suggestion of one of his professors at medical school in Dakar, Dr. Ba moved 300 miles south-east to Sinthian in 2005 to take charge of the village’s health clinic. Since then, he has emerged as an important community leader, not only helping to establish a medical center and primary school in another village, Fass, but also serving as a crucial interlocutor for Le Korsa.

– Alan Riding

Q – What were the main difficulties you found when you first arrived in Sinthian?
A – Most villagers did not know about medical treatment. If a child had a seizure, he’d be taken to the marabout (imam) or to a charlatan. At that time, we received only 180 to 200 patients per month; now we receive over 1,000 every month. For example, woman now routinely come to the hospital to give birth.
Q – What are the most frequent ailments?
A – Malaria is the main reason people come to the center. This is a problem all year round, but worst during the rainy season. The most vulnerable are children under five. If parents are slow to bring them for treatment, they can die.
Q – What about malnutrition?
A – Yes, it’s also a problem, but La Korsa’s new women’s gardening program (in Sinthian and three other villages) is helping. Traditionally, people only produced cereals. Now, with vegetables and fruit, I’m seeing improvements in the nutrition of the under-five’s.
Q – Do you offer family planning?
A – Yes. Ten years ago, women didn’t know about that and there were a lot of unwanted pregnancies. Now it is often the husband who brings his wife to seek help in family planning.
Q – Do patients pay?
A – Many belong to a health insurance agency. If they cannot afford medical attention, Le Korsa helps them. Le Korsa has also donated ambulances to Sinthian and Fass.
Q – Talking of Fass, the village south of the Gambia River, was there resistance to girls and boys studying together in the village’s first primary school, which Le Korsa is now building? (It should open in early 2018.)
A – No. The religious leaders were more worried that the school could threaten their religion (Islam). But we assured the marabout that Le Korsa is not a religious organization. Normally a community school takes in children of between five and seven, but this will include older children, from ten to twelve, because they have never been to school. Some 200 children have been inscribed to enter the school.