News

Radio interview with founder and president Nicholas Fox Weber
Jun 01, 2020

Mark Lynch of WICN public radio conducted an absolutely wonderful interview with our founder and president, Nicholas Fox Weber, covering our history up through our present projects .

You can listen here: https://www.wicn.org/podcast/nicholas-fox-weber-le-korsa/

Food kits distributed in three villages
May 29, 2020

With Covid 19 restrictions having disrupted the food trade throughout West Africa, there have been reports of a looming food crisis. After speaking with our partners on the ground, who assured us they had a good food supply, as well as vegetables from the gardens we helped them set up, we decided to provide additional support as a precaution.

Each household in Sinthian, Dialico, and Fass received a sack of rice or two depending on the family’s size, and fonio and sorghum seeds. In Sinthian, for example, the village has decided to store the rice until at least July.

While everything about the future of the pandemic and its effects remains in flux, we are doing everything we can to ensure our partners have what they need.

Mask-making at the Foyer de Jeunes Filles
May 18, 2020

Over the weekend, Le Korsa supported the fabrication of over 1500 masks at the Foyer de Jeunes Filles. Several of the tailors involved had family members afflicted by Covid 19; they were eager to contribute their skills to help stem the spread of the virus, which has infected over 2000 people in Senegal.

As Maimouna Ka Sow, director of the Foyer said, the initiative “augments our response to the pandemic, but also provides much-needed income for people affected by Covid 19, especially during the period of Ramadan.”

Fass School honored by The Guardian as one of the world’s top ten architectural projects
May 11, 2020

The Guardian’s Rowan Moore has selected the Fass School, designed by Toshiko Mori, as one of the world’s top ten new architecture projects. Congratulations Toshiko!

Sinthian Kindergarten’s new classroom
May 08, 2020

Senegal has 1551 registered cases of Covid 19—for now, only one of those is in Tambacounda. There are no cases in Sinthian, where as a result, our work on the new classroom for the Sinthian Kindergarten has been allowed to continue.

This third classroom, being built by Dr. Magueye Ba, will join the two existing ones built in 2010 and provide space for an additional 25-30 students each year.

Scrubs donated by FIGS proving essential in Covid 19 care
Apr 27, 2020

Just before the Covid 19 outbreak began, we received a large donation of about 1000 scrubs for Tambacounda Hospital from FIGS, a medical-wear manufacturer.

The timing was fortuitous: those scrubs, because of their distinct grey color and durability, are the only ones being used by the hospital staff in the isolation ward, where there are 34 Covid 19 patients. Everyone at the hospital can identify, from the grey scrubs, their colleagues who are in that ward, and ensure that only authorized doctors and nurses go in and out of it.

No one planned for the scrubs to be used exactly this way, but it just goes to show how generosity makes for a better reality, and often in unforeseen ways.  We, and the entire staff at Tambacounda Hospital, send a huge thank you to FIGS.

Progress at Tambacounda Hospital
Apr 16, 2020

Stop-work orders as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic have not affected Tambacounda, where construction continues on the redesign of the maternity and pediatric wards at Tambacounda Hospital.

To see these wards take shape is a bright spot during a dark time; they’ll increase the hospital’s capacity to treat mothers, babies, and children by about 300%.

Update: April 3
Apr 03, 2020

Senegal is now up to 207 cases of Covid 19, and the first has appeared in the Tambacounda region. We are in constant touch with our teams to stay on top of the situation.

To date, we have: installed hand washing stations at Thread and outside the Sinthian medical clinic; we have acquired masks and sanitizer for Fann Hospital and the Women’s Health Center of Dakar; installed hand washing stations at the Tambacounda Hospital construction site; and  we are also working with the Tambacounda hospital administration on procuring more personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses. In short, we are doing everything we can. And your support makes it all possible-thank you.

Covid, Le Korsa and Senegal – from Alan Riding
Mar 30, 2020

With COVID-19 now sweeping the United States and Europe, Africa is bracing for its own wave of infection, with the added complications of overcrowded cities, poor infrastructure and a dearth of medical supplies and trained personnel. At Le Korsa, we’re mobilizing to help in Senegal.

Fortunately, Senegal is not the most vulnerable country on the continent, although the government has already ordered confinement and suspended international travel. Senegal also has a basic health structure and is home to a branch of the Pasteur Institute, the French foundation which researches and treats infectious diseases. The Institute in Dakar is working with a British laboratory, Mologic, to develop a cheap and rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19.

In the current crisis, we have obtained masks and antiseptic gel for the Fann Hospital in Dakar and for the Women’s Center, which was founded by Le Korsa, also in Dakar. In the Tambacounda region of south-east Senegal, where our work is concentrated, our team has also acquired masks and gel for the health clinics in the villages of Sinthian and Fass. At Tambacounda’s only hospital, construction is going ahead on a new gynaecological and pediatric wing financed by Le Korsa, but work may be halted by further confinement measures.

Schools have already closed across Senegal, but we continue to pay the salaries of the teachers at the Fass primary school and the Sinthian kindergarten, which Le Korsa built. At the Foyer des Jeunes Filles inTambacounda, the 144 young women who live there while attending secondary school have had to return to their villages, although we are covering the wages of the staff.  Further, we’ve decided to provide a monthly stipend to the freelance drivers who insure our mobility in Dakar and Tambacounda and, critically, for the seven-hour between the two cities.

It’s too early to gauge how badly Senegal will be hit by the pandemic – as of today, 142 cases of infection and no deaths have been reported – but it’s evident that, as with any natural disaster,  the most fragile will suffer most. Where possible, we’ll be there to offer them a helping hand.

Stay safe!

Warmest,

Alan

Former New York Times journalist Alan Riding is a longstanding supporter of Le Korsa and is active in our French association, Les Amis du Korsa.

Update: Covid 19 response
Mar 25, 2020

As of March 24, Senegal has 99 cases of Covid 19, with the number expected to rise. Nearly all regions have been affected at this point. President Macky Sall has declared a state of emergency, issued a curfew, and restricted all domestic travel and gatherings.

We have been working closely with our partners Dr. Badiane of Fann Hospital, Dr. Juliette Faye of the Keur Djiguene Yi Women’s Health Center, and Dr. Magueye Ba of the Sinthian Medical Clinic, to source additional masks, sanitizer, and thermometers as they prepare to deal with a growing number of cases.

Keeping healthcare workers protected is essential in the fight against Covid 19.

We have worked with these doctors for many years and are doing our utmost to ensure that they, and their colleagues, are well-equipped for the challenges to come.

Your support makes this possible. If you are able to make a donation at this time, it will go a long way to helping our colleagues in Senegal.

A message about Covid 19
Mar 20, 2020

Over the past week, Senegal has taken measures to contain the spread of coronavirus including limiting public gatherings, closing schools, and closing some mosques in the Dakar region. The country has 38 confirmed cases as of today, which is expected to grow.

All of our partners and colleagues are safe and healthy, and we are in constant touch with them to ensure they have what they need. Teachers and staff at the schools and health centers we operate will continue to be paid during any shutdowns.

Many, before schools closed, held meetings about coronoavirus preparedness and instituted new cleaning and sanitization measures. At the Foyer de Jeunes Filles, during the March 9 celebration of women, Maimouna Ka Sow had her nursing staff speak to the girls about the virus, and demonstrated proper handwashing technique. Those girls are all now at home with their families because the Foyer has been closed.

At the Wassadou Medical Center, the staff have masks, extra sanitizer in every room, and they have set up isolation rooms in preparation for the virus moving into the interior of the country.

We will keep you updated as the situation develops. But our work remains the same — to continue to support our partners and colleagues in Senegal. As always, your donations make it possible, especially in times such as these. Thank you.

New scrubs for Tambacounda Hospital
Mar 10, 2020

FIGS, a US-based company that manufactures high-quality and durable medical wear, has just donated a large shipment of new scrubs to Tambacounda Hospital. They were received over the weekend by hospital director Dr. Thérèse-Aide Ndiaye and her staff.

Tambacounda Hospital is often lacking for basic supplies such as scrubs, so the approximately 1000 new pairs will be put to immediate use by doctors and nurses. We are so grateful to FIGS and their Thread for Thread program for making this donation, and for working with doctors all over the world to improve their working conditions.

Former New York Times journalist Alan Riding joins us in Senegal
Mar 03, 2020

From Nick Weber, Founder and President of Le Korsa 

For the past six years, Le Korsa has been graced in having Alan Riding as a devoted friend and supporter. He has now made three trips to Senegal with us; he regularly writes his friends asking them to support our work; he gives his time and energy unstintingly; he provides both insights and enthusiasm. 

To have Alan writing about Le Korsa is no small thing. Alan joined The New York Times in Mexico in 1978 and, in the following years, he covered the Nicaraguan Revolution and the civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala.

 At the end of his assignment in Mexico, he wrote Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans (Knopf/Vintage), which has sold over 450,000 copies worldwide and is now considered a classic about modern Mexico. Following that, he spent five years as The New York Times’s bureau chief in Paris, before becoming the newspaper’s European Cultural Correspondent. While in this post, he co-authored Essential Shakespeare Handbook and Opera, two illustrated reference books . His most recent book is And The Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris, now published in several languages, and while he is no longer a New York Times staffer, he often has book reviews in the paper and leads trips organized by the Times. And he has recently become a playwright of distinction. 

Alan returned from a trip with Team Le Korsa at the start of last week. What follows is a letter he intended initially for Le Korsa’s Paris-based community; when I read it, I realized that it is so rich, succinct, and vivid that it should be disseminated as widely as possible. All of you should have the pleasure of seeing our work through Alan’s eyes. (Not only are the words his, but so are the photographs; while Alan has written a lot about photography, few people knew of his hidden talent in that direction.)

I am sure that you will relish this beautiful report.

– Nick

Le Korsa in Senegal

I’m just back from a week-long trip visiting Le Korsa’s projects in the Tambacounda region of south-east Senegal and, as promised, here’s a brief report on how they’re faring. In one word, well! Given the entrenched poverty of the area, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but I believe our “from-the-bottom-up” approach is making a difference.

Please read below and, if so inspired, do please consider supporting our work. To donate and learn more about Le Korsa and our French NGO, Les Amis du Korsa, please click on aflk.org (for US tax deductions) or lamko.org (for French tax deductions).

Thank you for caring.

Warmest,

Alan

I’ll just focus on four projects:

The most ambitious is construction of a new $1.3 m. maternity and pediatric center for the Tambacounda hospital. Shocked by existing conditions, Le Korsa decided three years ago that a modern extension was absolutely vital. Now, with an ingenious S-shaped design by the Swiss-based firm of Manuel Herz Architects, the center is rapidly taking shape and should be inaugurated early 2021… with luck and with money!

Indeed, to turn the shell into a working hospital will cost as much as construction of the building itself. And we’re not there yet, so we still need help!

The Foyer des Jeunes Filles is a secure hostel financed by Le Korsa that enables girls from surrounding villages to receive a secondary education in Tambacounda. Now housing 140 young women aged 11 to 23, it is wonderfully run by its director, Maimouna Ka Sow, who supervises both their welfare and education.

This includes “reinforcement classes” provided every afternoon by hired teachers to insure no student falls behind at school (above left) while others are kept busy doing homework (above right). I gave a writing workshop for a group of them and sensed their determination to prepare for a future so unlike that of village life, where early marriage and motherhood awaited them. They have reason to feel optimistic since over a dozen alumni of the foyer are now studying at universities in Dakar. And there too, Le Korsa is providing their housing.

Sinthian is the village south-east of Tambacounda where five years ago Le Korsa and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation built a stunning cultural center which has since become the social heart of the community as well as a temporary “residence” for a succession of artists. We’re involved in other programs there, such as bee-keeping, vegetable farming, the local medical center and a kindergarten. On this visit, scores of infants in little uniforms helped Le Korsa inaugurate a second classroom for the kindergarten while entertainment was provided by a popular rap artist, Negga Dou.

We forded the Gambia River to reach another village, Fass, where Le Korsa opened the community’s first–ever primary school a year ago. I was keen to visit it because it offers 200 children – girls as well as boys – their first opportunity to learn French – the official language of Senegal’s educational system – as well as to engage in Koranic studies.

In Fass, as in other villages, by providing wells and advice, Le Korsa has enabled local women to assume responsibility for farming vegetables, providing better nutrition for their families and a welcome splash of green in the otherwise arid landscape.

Tambacounda Hospital Rising
Feb 21, 2020

Over nearly two weeks this month, our team was in Senegal to meet with our local partners and to visit our projects. There is much to share and a fuller report will follow soon.

For now, we are thrilled to share that construction on the redesigned maternity and pediatric units at Tambacounda Hospital is advancing beautifully; the second story is rising quickly and drawing much attention from cars and pedestrians on Tambacounda’s busy streets. When it is completed it will increase the hospital’s capacity by 300%.

We are so grateful to everyone who is making this happen — architect Manuel Herz; construction company owner and our long-term partner Dr. Magueye Ba; hospital director Dr. Thérèse-Aida Ndiaye; engineer El Hadji Cheikh Mbacké; Ngom Ndongo, the site manager; the many bricklayers and laborers who are making this building a reality; and our donors, without whom none of our projects would be possible.

A peek at some recycled furniture
Jan 24, 2020

As part of the trash and recycling program that we launched last year, we have been working with our local partner Negger Dou to create furniture from tires gathered around the city of Tambacounda.

This set of tables and chairs is awaiting its placement in local schools and businesses. In the meantime, we are on the lookout for a good workshop space where we can set this up as a long-term program. Stay tuned.

See what YOU have done in 2019!
Dec 16, 2019

Join our sustaining donor program
Dec 03, 2019

A small gift can make a big difference, which is why we’re excited to launch our sustaining donor program. Committing to a monthly donation of just $25 provides a vital source of revenue that allows us to bring quality healthcare, education, agriculture, and the arts to Senegal.

Your monthly donation can provide a mother and her baby with a month’s worth of prenatal care, or it can furnish an entire school with a month’s worth of books and supplies. It can also allow us to install wells that help gardens flourish and feed entire villages.

Please help us change lives in Senegal by becoming a sustaining donor.  

Also Known as Africa Art Fair to feature Roger Da Silva’s Photography
Nov 08, 2019

Art is a crucial part of all the development work we do in Senegal.

At Thread, we have hosted numerous artists from around the world who have worked right in the midst of the agricultural, educational, and health programs we operate in Sinthian. We also help support, with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, art in Senegal in other ways, such as the restoration and display of Roger Da Silva’s photographs of Senegal from the 1950s and 1960s.

These photos, which depict everything from family gatherings to dances to the country’s first post-independence president, Léopold Senghor, will be on display outside of Senegal for the first time this month at the Also Known as Africa Art Fair, held in Paris from November 9 to November 11.

DaSilva was born in Benin and took up photography while enlisted in the French army. He eventually made his home in Dakar, where he documented postcolonial life and the optimism that pervaded the country as it became an independent nation. DaSilva made about 75,000 images during his lifetime, but they had gone missing until his son, Luc, found them in 2008, the year his father died.

Le Korsa and The Albers Foundation have helped to restore 100 of DaSilva’s recovered film negatives, and it is a selection of those images, and the vibrant culture they depict, that will be on display in Paris this weekend. The images will be for sale, with all proceeds going to support our efforts in Senegal.

You can read more in this recent article from CNN.

Thread win’s FIBRA award for plant-based architecture
Nov 05, 2019

Thread, the artists’ residency and cultural center in Sinthian designed by Toshiko Mori and built by Le Korsa and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, has just won a FIBRA award in the category of Cladding and Covering. The award is the first of its kind for contemporary plant-based architecture.

Thread’s bamboo and thatch roof, which was the feature singled out by FIBRA’s jury, was built by locals with local materials. It undulates from high points to low, and funnels rainwater into holding basins where it can be stored for agriculture use. It also creates both intimate and public spaces while tracing a lyrical line, and is one of the defining features of the building.

The thatching technique used in the roof is that of the Bassari, an ethnic group in Senegal. During construction, an expert Bassari thatcher came to Thread to teach contractors and to oversee the thatching process. This marriage of traditional methods and materials with innovative design is what makes Thread an unforgettable building.

Congratulations to Toshiko Mori, Jordan MacTavish, and to all of our staff who make Thread the incredible place it is.

People of Tamba featured in the Guardian
Nov 01, 2019

People of Tamba, the photographic portrait series undertaken by Giovanni Hänninen while he was in residence at Thread, depicts many citizens of Tambacounda in their work places, highlighting their contributions to society.

Because Tambacounda is a major departure point for many African migrants, Giovanni conceived of the project as a counter to the reporting he heard coming out of Europe, which emphasized only the numbers of migrants arriving on European shores, or being lost at sea, and not the human element of the crisis: who some of these migrants were, what they and their families did back home, and the complexity of what made some of them leave their countries.

“I decided to present the photographs in large format to show the people of this project on a human scale and thereby create a rapport with the viewer,” says Hänninen.

“They are like us; with their past, their present and their aspirations for the future. They represent everyone’s history.”

The series is gaining wide exposure in Europe, having been recently featured in the BBC and the Guardian. It will be on exhibit, along with Giovanni and Alberto Amoretti’s short documentary film series on clandestine migration from Africa to Europe, Senegal/Sicily, at the Also Known as Africa Art Fair, held in Paris from November 9-11.

MZW Gives Back program will benefit the Foyer
Oct 10, 2019

MZ Wallace has partnered with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation to create a tote bag featuring the iconic typeface that Josef Albers designed for the Bauhaus. 100% of the net proceeds of its sale will benefit Le Foyer de Tambacounda, enabling more girls to live there while attending local high schools.

Adorned with one of Josef Albers’s dictums, “Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers,” the bag also includes two pouches, one of which features an Anni Albers quote: “Students worry about choosing their way. I always tell them, ‘You can go anywhere from anywhere.'”

Monica Zwirner, a cofounder and designer at MZ Wallace said, “Empowering women has always been important to our philosophy of giving back to the community, whether on a local or global scale. Ensuring that women have access to an education, and the opportunities that arise from it, is an impactful way to put this philosophy into action. We are thrilled to partner with The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation to support Le Korsa.”

Environmental action reaches a new peak in Tambacounda
Sep 30, 2019

Trash piles are a common sight in Tambacounda. They may be less common where you sit reading this, but the danger posed by plastic waste is real no matter where you are. Scientists estimate that six billion tons of it are in the natural environment, becoming microparticles that enter the ecosystem and food chain.

It’s why, among other environmental efforts, Le Korsa is helping to create a waste removal program, which we launched on World Cleanup Day. The annual event, which fell on September 21st, unites millions of people from across the globe to clean up solid waste. We helped it become observed for the first time in Senegal by organizing local government, volunteers, artists, religious leaders, and youth associations to clean up Tambacounda’s streets.

Le Korsa provided rakes, shovels, trashcans, and wheelbarrows to support the cleanup, and our key partner UGC, a local trash removal company, loaned bulldozers and personnel. But our most effective contribution was a wide-ranging effort to educate and involve the local population.

During the planning phase for World Cleanup Day, Le Korsa staff member Jaime Barry and our partner, local rapper and activist Negger Dou, organized volunteers to launch a creative recycling program. They gathered over 500 old tires, which people normally would have burned, and began transforming them into colorful chairs, sofas, and tables for people’s homes and Tambacounda’s soon-to-be cleaner public spaces. The goal is to urge artists to put their creativity to use for the public good.

To ensure that people were excited about cleaning up Tambacounda, Jaime and Negger Dou organized a concert on September 20. Promoting the idea that “The Street Is Not Your Trashcan,” the performers and musicians shared messages about environmental consciousness and proper trash disposal, which is a stubborn problem in the region. While the municipal government has a solid waste management infrastructure, much trash in the city never makes it to the proper receptacles or pick-up locations.

It was heartening to see, on the 21st, that the message had been heard. Hundreds of people, young and old, joined together to remove trash from Tambacounda’s streets and public areas, including the central market and train depot, which are littered with waste.

Tambacounda’s municipal government used the occasion to redouble their efforts to educate the citizenry about waste disposal and sanitation. As deputy mayor Mame Balla Lô said, “We need the local population here to recognize they must commit to proper trash disposal—the problem concerns us all,” he said.

“The man of the day was the deputy mayor,” Jaime said. “He personally had a shovel and was digging up drainages and going under bridges to take out trash that has blocked waterways. Several people joined us for the cleaning after they saw what he was doing. He was an inspiration,” he added.

Le Korsa and Negger Dou are now working to ensure that the environmental consciousness and partnerships created during World Cleanup Day are lasting.

Negger Dou, who has a local radio show, will continue to broadcast messages about environmental responsibility, and we are working with him to develop new ways for artists to reuse waste.

We are also working with the local government to improve the city’s trash pick-up program. The main problem is a lack of trashcans and dumpsters in the neighborhoods, so we will be helping the government source more, and will be investigating where to place them for maximum accessibility. We will also be helping the government find ways to reduce illegal dumping.

Your support makes all of it possible. Thank you.

Tennis and basketball program underway
Sep 11, 2019

Just days after Le Korsa completed construction on the new tennis and basketball court in Sinthian, hundreds of children were practicing forehands and backhands, dribbling and lay-ups. It was the first time tennis and basketball had been played in Sinthian, where soccer reigns supreme.

To introduce these sports to Sinthian, in late August Le Korsa ran a tennis and basketball workshop for boys and girls from Sinthian, Koar, and Sall.

Lamine Gueye, a tennis pro from Dakar, offered instruction to the children, many of whom had never held a tennis racquet before. He focused on the basics of the game, including footwork and ground strokes, and will be returning to Sinthian regularly to continue teaching.

Basketball, which is highly popular in Senegal, needed no introduction in Sinthian. But some of its finer points did, and for that, we invited the coaches of the Tambacounda Basketball Club to run two days of training. The energy was electric as hundreds of boys and girls took jump shots for the first time.

These instructional programs will continue twice per year, affording children the chance to hone their athletic skills. But the greater purpose of the court is simply to be a new forum for athletics, open to all, in a rural and isolated part of Senegal where such facilities are non-existent.

100 new trees for Sinthian
Sep 04, 2019

This August, Le Korsa’s agricultural team was joined by locals to plant 100 cashew trees in Sinthian. For many residents, it was the first time they had planted a tree, and in a few years, they will see their efforts literally bear fruit.

The tree planting is part of Le Korsa’s broader environmental sustainability programs, designed to help residents of Sinthian adapt to climate change and diversify their agricultural skills. “This was the worst rainy season most people have ever seen here,” said Moussa Sene, who oversees Le Korsa’s regional program and initiated the tree planting. “So the goal is to help the local population see that we have to adapt,” he added.

Moussa explained that the cashew trees will help stabilize the water table, release oxygen, and prevent erosion, all of which helps to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.

The trees will also boost the local economy. “Growing cashew trees, or other fruit trees, can help the population earn money from a source other than peanuts or corn,” Moussa said. One kilo of cashews can be sold for 1000 fcfca, or about $1.75, which is a good price in the region, and a mature tree will yield a nice crop. Both the cashew nut and the cashew apple are edible, and can be transformed into products such as oil or preserves. And bees produce excellent honey from cashew trees, so the beekeepers will have an even better product to sell.

At Thread, Le Korsa maintains a large stock of seedlings — cashew, papaya, mango, moringa — all of which are available to anyone in the region who would like to plant one. We have already helped distribute over 2000 trees in the region, and plan to do so continuously.

Construction of tennis and multi-use sports court almost complete
Aug 01, 2019

To augment the sports facilities available to the inhabitants of Sinthian and the surrounding villages, we have been building a tennis and multi-use sports court adjacent to Thread.

Thanks to removable nets and hoops, the court can be easily transformed from accommodating tennis matches to hosting basketball games.

“Some people have questioned why, in a region where the needs for health care and the rudiments of life are so urgent, we have built a tennis court,” said Le Korsa founder and president, Nicholas Fox Weber. “It is simply a matter of giving people pleasure,” he added.

Ensuring that people can experience that pleasure more readily, we will be offering clinics in each sport. Tennis is not common in this region of Senegal—soccer dominates, but basketball is also popular in the city of Tambacounda—so the clinics will introduce a new sport to many, while developing the skills of others.

“The court is available not just to the young and robust, but to people of every age, and to the physically handicapped, and we are putting in place a program so that everyone who gives a go at the sports here will have an idea of how to do so,” Nick added.

The first clinic will be launched later this month August, so please check back for further updates.

Fonio processing training is underway
Jul 03, 2019

Since 2017, over 110 farmers in Sinthian and the surrounding villages have been learning to cultivate fonio, a native West African grain that is rich in protein, gluten free, and full of amino acids. The farming has been going exceptionally well, but fonio is a laborious crop to process — husking, threshing, cleaning, and drying are all necessary before eating or selling the grain.

This past week, we launched our first fonio processing training with some of the women from the Sinthian GIE. It was a huge success.

“Last year our fonio was processed in Kedougou,” said Moussa Sene, Thread’s General Manager. “But this year, with the availability of our decorticator, and the training that six women from Sinthian received in a single day, the women processed 25 kg of fonio themselves. They wanted to test themselves, and they certainly passed,” he added.

Soon, that fonio will be on people’s tables or in the market, contributing to their food security and financial stability.

New issue of Foyer de Jeunes Filles newspaper
Jun 04, 2019

As part of the journalism training held at the Foyer de Jeunes Filles in late April, the students conducted many days of interviews and reporting on the topic of excision, or female genital cutting. To experience the full life of a journalist working on deadline, they transformed their material into a newspaper. This year, we’ve translated the French-language publication into English so that the girls’ excellent journalism can reach a wider audience.

To read the French version of the newspaper, click here.

To read the English version of the newspaper, click here.

Thread is shortlisted for the RAIC Prize
May 29, 2019

Thread, the artists’ residency and cultural center run by Le Korsa and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, has been shortlisted for The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s prize for socially transformative architecture. Designed by Toshiko Mori Architect, Thread impressed the jury with its blend of form, function, and social mission. It is in competition with two other buildings, in Peru and Chile, respectively, for the $100,000 prize, which will be announced on October 25, 2019.

“We see in these exceptional buildings how architecture can strengthen community, bring together diverse peoples, lift the spirit, and exist in harmony with the environment,” said RAIC President Michael Cox, FRAIC. “Each of these projects offers lessons that can be applied elsewhere, and we hope they will inspire architects around the world as they design for human well-being.”

“The jury was struck by the diversity of these designs, from the inverted traditional Senegalese roof that serves as a water collector, to the unique glass-and-marble winged roof that fills the temple with light,” said Jury Chair Diarmuid Nash, PP/FRAIC. “These architects have come up with unique and innovative strategies by listening to the needs of their communities.”

More information on the prize can be found here: http://internationalprize.raic.org/en/2019-shortlist

Radio Tabadian is live!
May 09, 2019

After nearly two years of planning and construction, Tambacounda’s newest community radio station is broadcasting live from Gouloumbou.

This station, entirely run by the communities and villages of rural Tambacounda, is a voice for the people who need to be heard most. They live in a rural and impoverished region far from Dakar and its halls of power, and don’t often receive the same resources that are deployed in the capital city.

But through Radio Tabadian, inhabitants will be able to share information that is crucial to them, advocate for themselves, and strengthen their communities. And they can do so in their own local languages, ranging from Bambara and Mandinka to Pulaar, Serer, and Wolof.

Le Korsa couldn’t have gotten this project off the ground were it not for our incredible partners in Tambacounda and at the Foundation for West Africa. We owe all of them tremendous gratitude, and are looking forward to helping the station to thrive.

Dr. Juliette Faye featured by Pan African Women in Health
Apr 11, 2019

Pan African Women in Health, an organization devoted to “increasing and improving women’s opportunities and grooming the next generation of female African health leaders and actors,” recently interviewed Dr. Juliette Faye about her work at Keur Djiguene Yi, the Women’s Center of Dakar.

From their article: “Dr. Juliette Dina Faye is a Senegalese female obstetrician gynecologist. For the past ten years, she has been part of a group of physicians that organizes medical consultations and awareness campaigns in remote rural areas within Senegal …” Click here to read more.

Tamba’s gardens are awash in onions
Mar 20, 2019

From Sinthian to Fass to Dialico, the women’s collectives have begun harvesting onions, a key crop for both consumption and sale. The yield is plentiful this year.

“The women are very happy,” said Moussa Sene, Thread’s general manager. “In Sinthian, they have harvested over 1000 kilograms already,” he added. Because onions feature in so many Senegalese dishes, they are in wide demand, and the collectives will have good earnings from this year’s crop. They will keep a portion for their families, too, ensuring that as the dry season progresses, their larders are well-stocked.

Through film, education about clandestine migration
Mar 14, 2019

As part of our International Women’s Day activities on March 8, we partnered with a Dakar association, Action Citoyenne pour la Solidarité et le Développement (Citizens for Solidarity and Development) to screen the film “Alpha/Aisadou,” which documents the effects of clandestine migration on a Senegalese mother and her son. The film was created by Alberto Amoretti and Giovanni Hänninen, two Italian filmmakers who were residents at Thread.

The association’s theme for the day was the “Role and Responsibility of Women in Preventing Clandestine Migration,” and over 80 people attended the screening to watch the film and discuss the complex issues it portrays. Some mothers, for example, support the migration of their sons. They are often unaware of the journey’s perils and believe it will yield a better life for their entire family. Others are staunchly against it and implore their sons not to leave. Still, many young men migrate because they see no career opportunities for themselves in Senegal and cannot bear to see their mothers, or their sisters or wives, living in poverty.

Because there are no easy solutions to the problem, the goal of the screenings is to provide firsthand accounts of those who have migrated, such as Alpha, who lacks papers and subsists on the fringes of Italian society, so that the realities of the experience are clear.

Massamba Camara, who has been organizing the screenings throughout Senegal, said, “It was the first time I saw people break into tears during the screening. Over five women cried, some because they had lost their brothers, others because they never knew their sons had made such a dangerous journey trying to make them happy.”

Sinthian’s tree nursery bears fruit
Mar 07, 2019

One of the first projects Le Korsa undertook in Sinthian after Thread opened in 2015 was starting a tree nursery in the center’s gardens.

We seeded over 5000 trees, including cashew, mango, lemon, and moringa trees, which we planned to distribute throughout the village and the surrounding areas. In Tambacounda’s hot and arid climate, these trees are essential: they provide food, shade, and help stabilize the soil and prevent erosion.

Four years laters, these seedlings are reaching maturity and bearing their first fruits. Throughout Sinthian, Koar, Sinthian Samba Courou, Ngene, Dialico, Tambacounda, and Fass, families have planted them in their compounds; schools have added them to their grounds; and churches and mosques have seen them grow up alongside their buildings.

The first fruit crop is already bolstering families’ daily diet, but as the trees mature, the crops will increase significantly. To help the local population take advantage of what’s to come, we have constructed a food transformation space in Sinthian, where raw fruit can be turned into jam or other preserves. We are just starting to develop this program, but have hopes that it can be duplicated in other villages. With seeds and initiative, rural communities can grow food and earn income while preserving the environment.

The Fass school featured in Architectural Record
Feb 19, 2019

Learn more about the Fass school from Le Korsa founder and president Nicholas Fox Weber and architect Toshiko Mori in this feature in Architectural Record.

The school in Fass is open!
Feb 13, 2019

We and our partners in the rural village of Fass realized our collective dream on February 2: officially opening the first school in the village, and the greater region, to offer Quranic and non-Quranic instruction.

Now, alongside the teaching of a Quranic master, there are classes for boys and girls in the French language and in all the traditional subjects of an elementary school curriculum, along with practical skills including carpentry, sewing, fishing, and cooking. Previously, none of the villagers has been able to read and write, either in the local language of Pulaar or in French; the new literacy will be life-changing. The region’s religious leaders have determined the program according to their desires with a full appreciation of the need of the local people to expand their horizons at the same time that they maintain the vital traditions of Islam.

Designed by Toshiko Mori Architect, the school’s circular structure and open brickwork keep the interiors cool yet light-filled during the hottest part of the day. As students advance into upper grade levels, they move through classrooms whose ceilings increase in height, an apt reminder of the progress they are making.

The idea for the school goes back to 2012, when Le Korsa inaugurated a new maternity unit at the Fass Medical Center in partnership with Dr. Magueye Ba. After the ceremony, the local Imam, Thierno Sall, expressed his desire for a school in the village to Le Korsa founder and president Nicholas Fox Weber, and a dialogue began.

Seven years later, thanks to incredible partnerships with Dr. Ba and Thierno Sall, the leadership in Medina Gounass, and the generosity of Laurel Hixon, Michael Keane, and their son Alex Keane, school is in session.

Bookshow: art and literature at Espace Medina
Jan 28, 2019

In partnership with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, we supported the launch of Bookshow, an exhibition series in Dakar, Senegal, that unites artists, critics, and writers for installations and performances about libraries and literature.

Held at Espace Medina, an arts space founded in 1960, the first iteration focused on literary representations of Africa by Africans. Participants in the exhibition reflected on the work of Cameroonian theorist Achille Membe, as well as other classic texts from the Black Atlantic tradition. They staged a performative reading in the gallery and on the street, and also engaged all inhabitants of the Medina neighborhood by presenting research, translations and original writing in Wolof.

The event drew hundreds of visitors to its opening, and many are returning to the exhibit on a daily basis.

We previously collaborated with Espace Medina on Mon Super Kilomètre, a kilometer-long art installation in Dakar, as part of the 2018 Dakar Biennale, and are looking forward to continuing our relationship with the space.

Progress on Tambacounda Hospital
Jan 07, 2019

Manuel Herz’s team shared with us some photos of test façades for the Tambacounda Hospital expansion project. His team, with our support, is hard at work making the final preparations for construction, which will start soon.

If you would like to support the project, there are several ways to do so. You can make a pledge and receive a limited-edition, framed reproduction of an artwork by Josef or Anni Albers. Please click here if you would like to purchase one and directly support Tambacounda Hospital. Please note that all pricing for these limited edition products is in British pounds and is not tax-deductible in the United States or France. 

If you wish to contribute to the Tambacounda Hospital Campaign by making a donation in U.S. dollars, please visit Le Korsa’s secure donation page.

If you are located in France and would like to make a tax-deductible donation in Euros, please visit Les Amis Du Korsa

For more information on the campaign-launch event titled Starting at Zero, which featured Chef Elena Arzak’s cuisine inspired by Anni Albers’s life and work, please click here.

Join Our Biggest Project Yet
Dec 18, 2018

On December 6 at the Tate Modern in London, Le Korsa and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation hosted a benefit event for the construction of the desperately needed new maternity and pediatric wards at Tambacounda Hospital.

A very limited supply of reproductions of artworks by Josef and Anni Albers is still available; please click here if you would like to purchase one and directly support Tambacounda Hospital. Please note that all pricing for these limited edition products is in British pounds and is not tax-deductible in the United States or France. 

If you wish to contribute to the Tambacounda Hospital Campaign by making a donation in U.S. dollars, please visit Le Korsa’s secure donation page.

If you are located in France and would like to make a tax-deductible donation in Euros, please visit Les Amis Du Korsa

For more information on this incredible event titled Starting at Zero, which featured Chef Elena Arzak’s cuisine inspired by Anni Albers’s life and work, please click here.

United States Ambassador to Senegal visits Thread
Dec 05, 2018

On November 26, 2018, His Excellency United States Ambassador Tulinabo S. Mushigui visited Thread and Sinthian to see Le Korsa’s work in action.

Ambassador Mushigui mentioned that he had been planning a visit to Sinthian ever since he saw an exhibition in New York City that featured Thread, and had said to himself, “I have to be there.” It was a perfect time for a visit, as he was able to hear about Le Korsa’s work directly from the people it benefits.

To kick off the visit, local students performed some of the region’s traditional dances for him. Then, Moussa Sene, Thread’s General Manager, described the range of Le Korsa’s work, from art and agriculture to education and medicine, and how it impacts the local population. After Moussa’s introduction, Dr. Ba presented his and Le Korsa’s medical efforts in the region; the head of the Sinthian women’s GIE spoke about the collective’s agricultural work; the men’s beekeeping group explained how they harvest honey and bottle and sell it; and a delegation of local teachers shared how Le Korsa’s provisioning of school supplies has improved education in the surrounding area.

Ambassador Mushigui stressed how delighted he was to see Le Korsa’s work in person, and to hear firsthand accounts from Sinthian’s inhabitants about the improvements in their lives. He also mentioned how much he enjoyed seeing two of Anni Albers’s artworks—Second Movement III and Second Movement IV—in the United States’s Dakar embassy, thanks to the Art in Embassies program.

Le Korsa was honored by Ambassador Mushigui’s visit, and we are glad to count him and his team among our supporters.

A New Way to Support Girls’ Education
Nov 19, 2018

In Tambacounda, young women face many obstacles to pursuing education, from early marriage and child-bearing to their families not wanting them to attend school. Most of them are also impeded by an issue that is not prominent in developed countries: a lack of sanitary pads during menstruation. Because young women in Tambacounda can’t afford or access hygienic products, they don’t attend school when they are menstruating. These gaps in attendance are detrimental to each girl’s education, often holding them back from graduating and attending college. Some girls do fashion their own pads from whatever materials they have available, whether it’s old clothes, mattress foam, or leaves—none of which is hygienic.

Le Korsa is working to improve the situation. Thanks to a partnership with Mary Consolata Namagambe, the founder of the Ugandan-based organization She for She, which teaches young women to create their own comfortable and reusable sanitary pads, we ran an important production and business training at the Foyer de Jeunes Filles.

From October 25 to 31, Mary and four professional seamstresses worked with six girls at the Foyer. They taught this small group to make reusable sanitary pads, but also how they might turn the operation into a small business by producing and selling large orders of pads to local organizations and schools. Le Korsa is actively helping the Foyer develop a business plan for this project, which will be designed to provide a source of employment for those girls who are unable to pass the entrance exam to college. We are just in the early stages of what we will hope will be a transformative enterprise for the young women of the Foyer, and of Tambacounda.

Thanks to Mary, and to the generosity of Laurel and Mike Hixon, we were also able to bring 200 pads to the rural village of Fass, and run a workshop on feminine hygiene with the nurses at the medical center. Finally, in Sinthian, Mary and Le Korsa team members taught a large group of young women and girls to hand-sew their own pads, using fabrics that they might have available.

Soon, we hope, all of these women will have one less obstacle between them and their education.