News

Improving the Operating Room at Tambacounda Hospital
Jun 02, 2021

In tandem with the redesign of Tambacounda Hospital’s maternity and pediatric units, Le Korsa has been continuing to help the hospital address other needs.

Earlier this year, the hospital director contacted us about an operating room that was in need of new equipment. Doctors were making do with insufficient overhead lights and a worn surgical table, but it was clear that both items needed to be replaced.

Thanks to our donors, we were able to help the hospital acquire new lights and a new table for this crucial operating room. The new equipment arrived to the hospital recently and is already in use.

Tambacounda Hospital serves about 40,000 patients annually, but lacks the resources of state-run hospitals in larger cities such as Dakar. It has been part of our mission, since coming to the Tambacounda region in 2005, to ameliorate the overall capacity of the hospital—large projects such as the redesign are essential, but so are these smaller gestures.

“Your donation will not only allow us to improve the care of our patients, but the working conditions of our doctors,” said Dr. Thérèse Aida-Ndiaye, the director of the hospital. “Thank you for the diligence with which you responded to our request; you’ve again demonstrated your long-term commitment to the health of the people of Tambacounda,” she added.

You make it all possible! If you would like to join us in sending more equipment to the hospital, learn about the ways you can help.

The Many Lives of Tambacounda at the Venice Architecture Biennale
May 26, 2021

Building on the collaborative nature of the recently completed redesign of Tambacounda Hospital’s pediatric and maternity units, Manuel Herz and Iwan Baan, with the support of Le Korsa and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, have presented “The Many Lives of Tambacounda” at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale.

The exhibit explores how the hospital’s redesign was a unique project, bringing together architecture, art, humanitarian work, healthcare, large-scale construction and the craftsmanship of artisans, all to provide over 40,000 patients per year with better facilities.

Featuring a model of the Tambacounda Hospital façade, constructed by Senegalese masons now living in Italy, as well as photographs, videos and interviews, the exhibit shares the multiple narratives and lives that the hospital is embedded within, and looks at the positive effect the hospital has already had on its community. Read more at designboom.

Redesign of Tambacounda Hospital Opens Today
May 10, 2021

We’re delighted to unveil the new Maternity and Pediatric Hospital in Tambacounda, Senegal, a transformative development designed pro bono by acclaimed architect Manuel Herz.

The Tambacounda Maternity and Pediatric hospital builds upon 15 years of extraordinary work in rural eastern Senegal by the Albers Foundation and Le Korsa. Echoing Josef and Anni Albers’ shared ethos and belief in the use of “minimal means for maximum effect,” this project goes far beyond a single architectural structure, embedding itself within the local community, economy and landscape.

Tambacounda Hospital – the only major hospital in the region – is a vital resource servicing around 20,000 patients per year from the surrounding area, stretching across the border into Mali. The doctors had previously been working under extremely difficult conditions, with the original design leaving the communal spaces severely overcrowded. The design of the new Maternity and Pediatric Hospital brings a sense of coherence and greatly improves the comfort of patients and their visiting families. Herz’s structure comprises a two-story building in a curvilinear form which brings two clinics – pediatrics and maternity – together under the same roof and offers approximately 150 hospital beds. The extensive length of the building allows for the smooth circulation of staff and patients and accommodates multiple communal spaces both between the rooms and in the courtyards formed by the bends of the S-curve, turning it into the truly social spine of the hospital.

Herz’s design includes several passive climate design innovations to combat the challenges posed by the extremities of the local weather, and to help forgo the need for air conditioning. The building is characterized by a narrow width of only seven meters, a feature which allows for all the rooms to be aired and cooled naturally through cross ventilation. In addition, his mashrabiya-inspired use of lattice-like brickwork with apertures has the advantages of blocking sun and facilitating air circulation, whilst also giving the hospital its distinctive recurrent visual motif and its beautiful play of light and shade. A second roof covers the primary roof of the extension, repelling most of the direct sunlight and creating a chimney effect which draws the heat upwards and out of the rooms below.

Herz has collaborated at all stages with local leader Dr. Magueye Ba and depended upon the expertise of the community, working almost exclusively with craftsmen and engineers from Tambacounda and the surrounding villages, and thereby helping to provide employment and support for the rural economy. The holistic nature of the project has helped generate further infrastructure for the area beyond the hospital; a façade created at an early stage by Herz and Ba to examine how the bricks functioned in the climate was subsequently incorporated into a new school Le Korsa was building in a nearby village. In addition Herz and his wife have designed a playground for the hospital. A sensitivity to the local landscape has also been a key facet of this multi-dimensional project, with Herz’s design endeavoring to create as little disruption as possible to the local trees. Following the completion of the Maternity and Pediatric Hospital, Herz will build staff quarters to help attract more doctors from the city, in a design inspired by a print by Anni Albers.

Nicholas Fox Weber, Executive Director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Founder and President of Le Korsa, says: “With our many projects in eastern Senegal, we at Le Korsa felt that it was unconscionable, and unnecessary, for three premature babies to be put on a small surface less than a meter square, with a light bulb hanging over them, instead of in a proper incubator. Dilapidated structures, inadequate plumbing, and a grim atmosphere: surely it was possible to do better. And so we have worked with the brilliant architect Manuel Herz, selected in a competition of first-rate architects, on a building that functions beautifully, is upbeat in appearance, deflects the brutal temperatures of the region, and provides a joyous, inspiring, salubrious setting to all who enter it. Please join us in congratulating Manuel Herz and the people of Tambacounda on this fantastic achievement.”

Manuel Herz says: “Designing and building the Pediatric and Maternity clinic at the Tambacounda Hospital has been maybe the most rewarding experience in my architectural career so far. From the very start, it has been a process based on collaboration with the wonderful doctors and staff at the hospital, with the amazing team of the Albers Foundation and Le Korsa, and with a fabulous group of builders and craftsmen around Dr. Magueye Ba as a general contractor. This collaborative process has led to designs that were surprising, that are much more interesting, better adapted to the local conditions and more beautiful than any single-authored project could have delivered. Building in Tambacounda has taught me so much for my future architectural work, not only on the African continent, but anywhere in the world.”

At the Venice Biennale of Architecture in May 2021 Manuel Herz will present “The Many Lives of Tambacounda,” an installation exploring the multiple narratives and lives that the Tambacounda hospital is embedded within.

All this is made possible by our donors and partners. Click here to donate and support our work.

Tambacounda Hospital redesign opening soon
May 06, 2021

One of the biggest projects that Le Korsa and the Albers Foundation have undertaken in Senegal—Manuel Herz’s redesign of Tambacounda Hospital’s pediatric and maternity units—is slated to open later this month.

The project, which builds on fifteen years of our work with Tambacounda Hospital, from offering patient subsidies to bringing in much-needed medical supplies, will vastly improve the level of care for women, children, and their families. Increased capacity will also allow doctors and nurses to work more comfortably and more efficiently.

In The Art Newspaper, Nicholas Fox Weber, executive director of the Albers Foundation and founder of Le Korsa, speaks about the efficiency and beauty of Manuel Herz’s redesign, and how it ties in to the values espoused by Anni and Josef Albers. “Anni and Josef often talked about minimal needs for maximum effect. And I would say that the hospital exemplifies that,” Nick said. You can read more about it in Art News, Dezeen, and the Financial Times.

Toshiko Mori wins National AIA Award for Fass School!
Apr 30, 2021

We are thrilled to announce that Toshiko Mori’s design for the Fass School has won a national award from the American Institute of Architects, an incredible honor in the architecture field.

We offer huge congratulations to our longstanding partner and friend Toshiko, and to Dr. Magueye Ba, who was the lead contractor on the project (and on Thread, also designed by Toshiko Mori).

Such collaborations, which have at their heart bringing education and services to those who need it most, are what Le Korsa is all about.

Dumpsites to Green Spaces
Apr 23, 2021

Le Korsa’s environmental programs have only grown in the last year, even with the challenges posed by the Covid 19 crisis. We have redoubled our efforts to work with local organizations and youth groups in Tambacounda to transform illegal dumping sites into green spaces and playgrounds.

A roadside area that was once trash-filled, and which Le Korsa had cleaned up last year, has been planted with peltophorum trees. They are known for the ability to thrive in an urban environment, but to do so they also need some tending to be established. Thankfully, because of your donations, we were able to hire a local bricklayer who is watering and caring for the trees.

At a former dumpsite near the train tracks in the Salikiené area, we worked with a welder to create a set of playground equipment that is now being used by children from all over the city. Because of this playground’s popularity, we are planning to install additional ones in other neighborhoods after identifying the best locations with the local council. A further idea is to create a soccer field on a larger dumpsite once it is cleared.

Your support makes all of it possible, so thank you.

Cooking and Conversation with Pierre Thiam and Nicholas Fox Weber
Apr 08, 2021

Join us for an engaging cook-along with renowned Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam and acclaimed biographer and cultural historian Nicholas Fox Weber as they prepare fonio, a delicious and nutritious grain local to Senegal.

Ticket sales will support Keur Djiguene Yi, the Women’s Health Center in Dakar, which provides free healthcare to low-income women in Dakar.

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Pierre will guide Nick and viewers at home through preparing a special recipe—fonio grits with salmon—while discussing the current state of affairs in Senegal and the work of Le Korsa. Questions and comments from the audience will be welcome. No advanced culinary skills are required, and please feel free to just join for the conversation if you can’t be in the kitchen at that time.

Date and Time
Sun, April 18, 2021
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

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Josef and Anni Albers and Le Korsa: Bringing Better Healthcare to Tambacounda
Mar 31, 2021

Josef and Anni Albers believed that everyone was entitled to healthcare, for to be in good health is to lead a good life. Through the redesigned maternity and pediatric units at Tambacounda Hospital, Le Korsa is helping to carry the values of Josef and Anni Albers to rural Senegal, where basic health services can be lacking. 
 
“The main issue for this hospital, and particularly for this region, is the state of maternal and infant health. There is a high rate of maternal and infant mortality,” said Dr. Thérèse-Aida Ndiaye, the hospital’s director.
 
These redesigned maternity and pediatric units, created by Manuel Herz in tandem with hospital staff, and built by local labor, will help to change that by providing a significant increase in capacity. Mothers, children, and the doctors and nurses who work with them will finally have the space they deserve.

 

A waiting area no longer waiting for improvement
Mar 30, 2021

While a new, two-story building is part of the redesign of Tambacounda Hospital, so is refurbishing the original pediatric ward. This existing building is circular and gives on to a central courtyard, which also serves as a waiting area.

In the past this area had been roofed over with corrugated tin, an improvised solution that trapped heat. Manuel Herz’s redesign called instead for a tall arched structure bookended by open bricks.

Installed last year while construction on the new building was ongoing, this revamped waiting area is far more comfortable for patients: air flows through it and heat escapes. Dr. Ba’s team was also able to build it without interrupting the busy daily life of this regional hospital, ensuring a continuity of care.

Because much of life in Tambacounda occurs outside, thanks to its warm climate, Herz’s redesign has also been sensitive to the landscaping of the area. It took into account the site’s existing trees, which provide shade and gathering places, and was built without removing them. Further landscaping, of local plants, will be incorporated as the project nears completion.

Josef and Anni Albers and the power of education
Mar 24, 2021

The artists Josef and Anni Albers believed that everyone had a right to an education.

Without an education, children are more likely to suffer life-limiting hardships — threatening their ability to build a better future for themselves or their communities.

At Le Korsa, we honor the legacy of the Alberses by by working to ensure that every child has the right to learn. The school in Fass, Senegal, which officially opened on February 2, 2019, is the first in its region to provide education other than the traditional Quranic instruction. Now, alongside the teaching of a Quranic master, there are classes for both boys and girls in the French language and in all the traditional subjects of an elementary school curriculum.

New building, new equipment
Mar 23, 2021

With Manuel Herz’s redesign adding approximately 300% more capacity to Tambacounda Hospital’s pediatric and maternity units, sourcing additional equipment to outfit the space has been essential.

Fortunately, Le Korsa’s longstanding partnership with Project C.U.R.E., an NGO that donates gently used medical equipment to hospitals and medical clinics, allowed us to acquire 100 new hospital beds for the hospital in late 2020. The construction team quickly checked that all the beds could fit through the corridors and doorways of the new wards, and as soon it was confirmed, we sent the beds. They arrived in January of this year, and some are already being put to use in the refurbished pediatric ward, while the majority are designated for the new building.

Le Korsa and Project C.U.R.E. have been in partnership since 2014. Over the last seven years, we have sent three shipping containers of medical supplies to Tambacounda Hospital, filled with basics such as gauze, gloves, surgical masks, as well as more specialized items such as cribs and incubators.

The director of Tambacounda Hospital, Dr. Thérèse-Aida Ndiaye, said, “This equipment is lifesaving for the people of this region and all who visit the hospital. We are proud to work with Le Korsa and Project C.U.R.E.”

Dr. Ndiaye has been with the hospital for previous container deliveries, and when we asked her if she would welcome more, she jumped at the opportunity. She secured a hard-to-obtain tax exemption, which allowed the goods to come into the country duty free. Without the exemption, the import fees would be over 50% of the value of the items, rendering the project impossible.

Le Korsa is now working with the hospital, and with Manuel Herz, to outfit the rest of the wards.

Art is an experience
Mar 17, 2021

For the artists Anni and Josef Albers, art was not merely an object—but an experience. It opens our eyes to the world and and encourages us to consider new possibilities.

The Alberses believed that everyone should know the benefits and the joys of art.

Le Korsa realizes this goal at Thread, its cultural center in rural Senegal, spectacularly designed pro bono by the architect Toshiko Mori. Thread offers residencies for visiting artists, studios, and a community space that connects the local population with the wider world through cultural exchange.

Architecture that serves students and patients
Mar 15, 2021

Central to Manuel Herz’s redesign of Tambacounda Hospital is open brickwork, which allows in light and air while blocking dust, an essential function in hot and dry Tambacounda.

When the local construction team began fabricating the bricks for the hospital in 2020, Dr. Magueye Ba, who is the lead contractor, quickly realized their broad application. Under other circumstances, a test facade would be created during the early stages of construction and then destroyed once it had served its purpose.

However, in resource-scarce Tambacounda, Magueye Ba took a more creative approach: he decided to perfect the brick-making technique while creating another building, echoing Josef Albers’ maxim of “Minimal means, maximum effect.”

He used the same bricks in a primary school in Sare Sidi, which his team was building with the support of the Clara Lionel Foundation and Le Korsa.

It was an efficient and elegant solution: the masons on his team could use one set of molds, but make bricks for two buildings, and both students and patients could benefit from Herz’s design.

In an interview with Dezeen that discussed the hospital’s construction, Manuel praised the ingenuity of Magueye’s work: “It translates the Western logic of a test-facade – that would have otherwise not served any additional purpose after observing it for a short moment – into ‘local logic’ where resources are precious. It took us by surprise, but I think there is an incredible cunningness and intelligence to the move.”

“I had the chance of visiting the school twice – once during the rainy season and once during the dry season – since its completion and each time saw it in use,” said Herz. “Compared to other village schools, it has much better ventilation, much better light and a lower temperature within the room. Ventilation is extremely important for eastern Senegal, as temperatures easily reach more than 40 degrees Celsius during the dry season and we need to make sure that the hot air doesn’t get trapped in the space.”

Le Korsa and the legacy of Josef and Anni Albers
Feb 22, 2021

In 1971, the artists Josef and Anni Albers established the foundation that bears their name, charging it with the mission to further “the revelation and evocation of vision through art.”

Almost 35 years later, the Albers Foundation created Le Korsa to carry that mission, and the wider values it represents, to Senegal. The Financial Times takes a closer look at how the spirit of these artists infuses all that Le Korsa does in Senegal.

A garden grows again at Wassadou Medical Center
Feb 17, 2021

Located on the road to Kedougou, Wassadou Medical Center is one of the only health clinics in a relatively isolated area. Operated by French NGO Première Urgence with financial support from Le Korsa, it serves about 10,000 patients from surrounding villages each year, providing basic care and maternal health services.

Several years ago, Le Korsa helped the center’s staff dig a bore well and plant a garden, whose produce would both feed patients and be sold to supplement the clinic’s income. But because of staff changes, and a broken fence that allowed cattle to enter the space and destroy crops, the garden fell into disrepair.

But Le Korsa has now helped the center locate a new gardener, who lives on site, and helped to replant lemon trees, mango trees, okra, peppers and bitter eggplant.

“The lemon trees planted during the rainy season look great,” said Le Korsa program director Moussa Sene. “The chili pepper plants are progressing very well and okra will be planted very soon because the land for that is already prepared,” he added.

Le Korsa is also discussing providing the center with enriched flour, produced by the women’s collective in Sinthian, that is beneficial for infants and as a milk supplement. It is one of the many ways we are trying to forge a link between agricultural and health, and at Wassadou, we are glad to be strengthening it again.

Scholarships Lead to Scholars
Feb 03, 2021

While most of the schools that Le Korsa supports are located in the rural Tambacounda region where resources are scarce, we have also been a longstanding supporter of Saint-Anne’s school in Thiès, Senegal’s third largest city.

Run by the Soeurs de Saint Joseph de Cluny, an order of Catholic nuns, Saint-Anne’s is known for offering an excellent education, and to students of all faiths. The student body, aged six to fifteen, is in fact predominantly Muslim, which is not unusual in Senegal, where 97% of people practice Islam. Religious tolerance, and respect for other faiths, is a hallmark of Senegalese society, and Catholic schools such as Saint-Anne’s often have mixed student bodies.

Since 2009, Le Korsa has provided scholarships to a select number of Saint Anne’s students. Annual tuition for one of these students is about $180.00, which is a small investment in what often turns out to be a bright future — many of them go on to higher education.

One former scholarship student, Jean Baptise Bouré Diop, is now completing his doctorate in Classics in Lyon, and hopes to return to Senegal as a Classics professor. For his thesis, “Slaves and Freed Slaves in Roman Africa and Asia Minor from the 1st through the 3rd centuries AD,” Jean-Baptiste is compiling a taxonomy and detailed history of the slaves and freed men and women who inhabited the Roman region that now comprises Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya. He is contrasting their experiences with the slaves of Roman Asia Minor, as well as closely tracking their names, to create a social record of how they lived and to better examine how the conditions and vestiges of slavery have passed into modern history.

If you would like to support more students like Jean Baptiste, please consider making a donation.

A shipment of beds arrives to Tambacounda Hospital
Jan 22, 2021

During the 15 years Le Korsa has been working with Tambacounda Hospital, we have brought in four shipping containers of medical supplies to help outfit its many under-equipped wards. Now, a new shipment of beds from Project C.U.R.E., an NGO that donates gently used medical supplies, has arrived to the hospital. Le Korsa covered the cost of shipping and handled its transport.

(Join us if you would like to send supplies to Tambacounda Hospital!)

The 100 beds will furnish the new pediatric and maternity building, designed by Manuel Herz, when it opens later this year.

The ongoing lack of beds in both the pediatric and maternity wards was one of the reasons Le Korsa and the hospital administration began discussing a redesign of those sections.

Too often, patients and their children were turned away for lack of beds. As Dr. Magueye Ba at the rural Sinthian medical clinic explained, if he needed to send a patient to the hospital—the only one in a vast area—he would call ahead to see if they would have a bed. Otherwise, there was no point in sending one of his patients over 60km away for treatment.

Such lack of resources has been the reality of healthcare in rural Tambacounda; it’s why we have been so devoted to improving the situation. We are thrilled that the new building can accommodate approximately 150 beds and will increase capacity by 300%. It will also include space for family members to stay overnight.

When it opens this year, it will help to transform healthcare in Tambacounda, and bring doctors and patients the resources they deserve.

Open Bricks Equal Open Schools
Jan 13, 2021

In rural Tambacounda, students attend classes from October to June, coinciding with the dry part of the year, when temperatures reach over 100 degrees and the wind kicks up dust. Electricity and air conditioning are non-existent in rural villages, so most schoolrooms in these locales have only small windows to block out the harsh elements while letting in fresh air. The interiors can be dim as a result, and not ideal for reading or looking at a chalkboard.

Over the last ten years, as Le Korsa built Thread, the Fass School, and the redesign of Tambacounda Hospital, we learned from local builders such as Dr. Magueye Ba, and partnering architects such as Toshiko Mori and Manuel Herz, how to create brighter spaces that also remain cool and relatively dust-free: open brickwork.

Open bricks, which feature in all the aforementioned projects, can be layered and angled to block the prevailing winds and the attendant dust. They also screen the harsh sun during the daytime without eliminating too much luminosity, providing a bright and clean interior that is well-suited for schools.

In 2018, thanks to the support of the Clara Lionel Foundation, we built three new schools in the Tambacounda region. One, in Sare Sidi, has a particularly fine example of open brickwork, thanks to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our partner Dr. Ba, whose construction team was building the school (Dr. Ba is a man of many talents).

Dr. Ba’s team had built Thread, the Fass School, and was busy working on the Tambacounda Hospital extension in 2018. He noticed that the bricks his team was fabricating for the maternity ward could be put to excellent use in the school. On the fly he brought them into the school’s design, where their near floor-to-ceiling height creates an environment that is airy and luminous.

Before this school was built, the students and teachers of Sare Sidi used temporary shelters built from branches and thatch, which could easily be destroyed by the elements.

The new school now hosts two teachers and hundreds of students. If you would like to help Le Korsa bring more schools like it to the region, please join us!

An aerial view of the new building at Tambacounda Hospital
Jan 05, 2021

In the spring of this year, the new pediatric and maternity units will open at Tambacounda Hospital. When the first patients walk in, they will find new examination rooms, waiting rooms, bathrooms, and lodgings where families can stay overnight. These spaces will be a major step towards improving overall healthcare in a rural, impoverished, and often overlooked region.

The redesign, created by Manuel Herz and built by a local construction team, will increase capacity for care at the hospital by 300%. A later phase of the project will include new staff housing that will hopefully encourage the retention of doctors and nurses in Tambacounda. Over the last five years, we have seen multiple pediatricians and OBGYNs leave after being daunted by the poor conditions at the hospital and the city’s rural setting. We are eager to change that.

Construction on the new building is well-advanced, and should wrap up late this winter. We are thrilled and heartened that the project has been able to remain on schedule despite all the challenges of the last year—thank you to everyone who has made this possible.

Happy Holidays!
Dec 23, 2020

From all of us at Le Korsa, Happy Holidays!

The Return of Light
Dec 21, 2020

In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice is today — the shortest, darkest day of the year. It’s a time when people across the world celebrate the return of light, for from this moment forward, the days grow brighter as we inch ever closer to the sun. We hope that you are celebrating the return of light this holiday season with loved ones, however you are able. You all have brought so much light to our year.

Give the Gift of Education
Dec 17, 2020

Dear Friends,

You have brought us close to giving the greatest gift we could imagine: education for 140 young women at the Foyer de Jeunes Filles in Tambacounda next year. We are just shy of raising the remaining $10,000 needed to fully operate the Foyer in 2021-2022, and we hope you will help us reach this crucial sum.

The Foyer is the best means of ensuring education for hundreds of young women from rural villages who would otherwise face limited prospects. As Maimouna Ka Sow, director of the Foyer, says: “In most cases a rural girl who is not fortunate enough to be at the Foyer returns to the village for lack of a tutor and a safe place to live in Tamba. She will often get married and become a housewife or domestic in town if she is lucky. If she is not lucky, she will live a life of poverty and dependence on the men in her family, first her father and then her husband.”

You can help young women in Tambacounda achieve the independence they seek. Any gift you make will go towards the Foyer, where for less than $75 per month, we can provide each girl with not just a room and meals while she attends school, but a home: a home where she and her peers can work together, study together, learn together, and succeed together.

Here are some of the ways you can help:

-$6.00 per month will provide a Foyer student with a year’s worth of career workshops.
-$25.00 will send an aspiring reporter to a three-day journalism training.
-$35.00 will pay for one cultural event, attended by all, each month.
-$46.00 will cover internet costs at the Foyer for one month.
-$60.00 will allow the Foyer to create an herbal and medicinal plant garden.
-$100 buys a month’s worth of medication and medical supplies for the Foyer.

If you have already made a gift, thank you. If you would still like to contribute, the timing could not be better—your gift will be matched by an anonymous donor until December 31. Thank you! Your support makes so much possible.

A groundbreaking year
Dec 15, 2020

At the end of last month, the Le Korsa team broke ground with local dignitaries on a new kindergarten in Goumbayel, a village east of Tambacounda. By the summer of next year, about 100 young students will move into their own school building, built by the local contracting company of our friend and partner Dr. Magueye Ba. It will be the first time the kindergarteners of Goumbayel have had their own classroom.

“The population considered the groundbreaking as a materialization of a dream come true,” said Moussa Sene, Le Korsa’s Program Director. “The kindergarten students have not had physical classrooms since the school’s establishment in 2007,” he added.

Located next to the village’s primary school—which Le Korsa has supported with supplies for many years—the kindergarten will provide a crucial space for early childhood education. Public school in Senegal officially begins at age 7, and kindergartens are not widespread in rural villages such as Goumbayel.

If they do exist, they often lack their own space, which can inhibit teaching and learning. Building and maintaining proper kindergartens is thus one of the best ways to facilitate early childhood education, and ensure that when children enter the primary school at age 7, they are well-prepared.

The school at Goumbayel is in fact the second kindergarten we broke ground on in 2020, despite the many challenges posed by the pandemic. The first was in Sinthian, where we added another classroom to the structure from 2010. Students began using the new classroom this fall, and we look forward to seeing it when we are able to return in person.

Thank you!
Dec 07, 2020

We are so grateful for all of the support we received on Giving Tuesday, and throughout last week!

Because of your support, we nearly reached our goal of raising the budget of the Foyer for next year. If you weren’t able to make a donation last week but would still like to, there is plenty of time — all donations between now and December 31 are still going to be matched by an anonymous donor.

Join the Foyer this #GivingTuesday
Dec 01, 2020

It’s #GivingTuesday, a day devoted to celebrating global generosity, and we are helping more young women at the Foyer de Jeunes Filles complete their education and go to college. Thanks to an anonymous donor, all donations made from now until December 31 will be doubled. We hope you will join us!

Because many young women in the rural Tambacounda region come from villages that lack secondary schools, their only option for further schooling is in the city of Tambacounda, 60km away. There, the Foyer provides these girls with a safe place to live while they go to school, and offers them after-school tutoring, career workshops, a kitchen garden, and special programs such as journalism training. It changes lives.

As student Diary Gueye said, “If I had not discovered the Foyer, I would have had to abandon my studies, because I don’t have parents who live here in Tambacounda—I am from a village. I would have had to stop studying. I couldn’t have continued. And if I had abandoned my studies, it would have been a shock to me, because I have dreamed of becoming an intellectual.”

Help more young women such as Diary realize their dreams.

Building for literacy
Nov 25, 2020

In 2017, as building plans for the Fass school were being drawn up, the Le Korsa team conducted a baseline survey in the village with the women who were part of the agriculture collective. On a scorching hot day, we sat beneath a handmade canopy in the garden to learn, in detail, about the lives of the women and the children, and how much education they were able to receive.

We discovered that there was a 100% illiteracy rate among the women and their children, and that none of the children were attending, or had attended, public school. It did not come as a surprise to us, for we had learned, during our many years working in the region, that there were no public schools, besides Quranic ones, in this rural area, which fell under the administration of the religious leadership in Medina Gounass.

Students in this region generally only learned to read and recite the Quran, unless their families were well-off enough to send them away to a school, which was a rare occurrence. Our survey reinforced the importance of the school we were building, the curriculum of which we developed with the religious leaders in Medina Gounass. As in other schools in Senegal, it would continue to offer Quranic instruction, but do so alongside basic courses in the local language of Pulaar, and in French, the language of Senegal’s public schools.

Studies show that literacy in a mother tongue such as Pulaar has positive effects on children’s academic and intellectual development, and that a 35% higher rate of GDP per capita is associated with each additional year of schooling. Our focus is less on GDP than on the idea that education is a basic right, and a means of experiencing the world to the fullest.

Since the school has been completed, over 200 girls and boys have been attending it. They come not only from Fass, but from neighboring villages, and stay with families in town while school is in session. The French teacher, Boubacar Sy, lives on the school grounds, and we are currently discussing adding more teachers to meet demand.

Universal literacy in the village is still a long way off, but hundreds of children are now learning, almost every day, to read and write, and beginning an educational journey we hope will take them to college and beyond.

Brick by brick, architecture that helps transform life in Senegal
Nov 20, 2020

The publication of Toshiko Mori Architect: Observations, and today’s Zoom conversation between Toshiko and our founder and president Nicholas Fox Weber (register here), is a moment to reflect on the two buildings Toshiko and Le Korsa, with our local partners, have created in rural Senegal.

The Fass School opened in 2019, becoming the first school in the Vèlingara region to offer girls and boys an elementary education alongside traditional Quranic instruction. It is a major achievement for a village where illiteracy has been nearly total. Now, over 200 girls and boys—including some coming from nearby villages—are receiving instruction in French and in Pulaar, their local language, helping them gain basic literacy. That sense of progress is reflected in the design of the building itself: the height of the ceiling increases as students move through upper classes, reinforcing their educational advancement.

In homage to Le Korsa’s founding by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, the school hearkens back to the one room schoolhouse in Germany where Josef Albers taught, and links this rural village to his ideals as an educator: “to open eyes.”

That same principle is at play in Thread, the artists’ residency and cultural center in Sinthian, which was the first building Toshiko Mori Architect completed in collaboration with Dr. Magueye Ba and Le Korsa, in 2015.

Its ovoid form, with two large oculi on each end, provides space for artists working en plein air, natural performance spaces for local dance and theater programs, and a place for the agricultural collectives we work with to hold meetings. The latter group also benefits, as the entire village does, from the roof’s funneling of rainwater into two holding basins, where it can then be used for gardening.

Without Thread, Le Korsa likely would have never helped organize these agricultural collectives—the space made it feasible, from having test gardens and a water source to a meeting place. Thanks to its space, we are also able to invite local experts to teach the women soapmaking, or canning, helping them expand their skills and their ability to earn income.

Congratulations, Toshiko! Thank you for showing how a great building can make so much possible.

Seams of Change
Nov 12, 2020

In recent years, the word entrepreneur has come to evoke a creative and successful individual who “disrupts” an existing system with an internet-based technology. But at the Foyer de Jeunes Filles in Tambacounda, the female entrepreneurs we work with are improving women’s lives with a simple technology: sewing machines.

Sutura, the small-scale sewing business we helped establish at the Foyer in 2017, is thriving by making reusable sanitary pads, tote bags, and masks. Its team, consisting of local tailors and former students of the Foyer, just received its biggest order yet: the NGO Carrefour International has requested over 3000 reusable pads. The huge order, which Sutura is beginning to fill, will raise several thousand dollars that will both pay the tailors who are part of Sutura and cover some of the cost of expanding their production space, which will allow them to grow their business.

(Want to help with the expansion? Donate!)

Sanitary pads are not readily available in Tambacounda. Their lack, combined with social stigma regarding menstruation, means that many young women find themselves in uncomfortable circumstances each month, improvising pads or skipping school. Sutura was created to help eliminate this problem, and was modeled on the business She for She, created by Mary Consolata Namagambe, who visited the Foyer to introduce the idea and to teach a small group to make reusable pads.

The initiative took off. The team was soon supplying pads to the Foyer and to Dr. Magueye Ba for distribution in the medical clinics of Sinthian, Fass and Kocoum. Sutura also began selling to local associations through word-of-mouth. “Now, numerous organizations devoted to reproductive health come to see me about ordering the pads,” said Maimouna Ka Sow, director of the Foyer, who helps Le Korsa oversee Sutura.

Sutura has even expanded its offerings to include tote bags and, because of the pandemic, masks. The small investment Le Korsa made in Sutura is paying off — the team now has the training and notoriety it needs to excel, and more young women have access to sanitary pads. Our hope is that soon enough, Sutura will be profitable on its own, and provide the Foyer with another source of income.

In the meantime, we hope you will join us in supporting these incredible entrepreneurs! A donation of just $5.00 will buy a set of reusable pads for a young woman in Tambacounda. If you can’t join us now, we hope you will save the date for #GivingTuesday on December 1, when people around the world join together to celebrate generosity. This year we are raising money for all of the Foyer’s programs, and we hope we can count on you.

Thank you, as always, for your support.

Expanded Sinthian Kindergarten to open this month
Nov 04, 2020

The Sinthian Kindergarten, which Le Korsa built in 2010, is set to reopen next week after the nationwide academic holiday. Thanks to an expansion, it will be even larger this year, capable of accommodating over 100 students.

Originally consisting of two classrooms and several teachers’ residences, the kindergarten will now feature a third classroom, built by Dr. Magueye Ba’s contracting team. His experience of building in the region allowed the construction to progress quickly, and to be ready to meet the demand of more students this year.

The kindergarten remains one of the linchpins of our rural educational programs. Because French is the language of Senegal’s public schools, which begin at the age of 7, it is imperative for students to learn the language at a young age in order to feel comfortable in the classroom. Sinthian’s kindergarten offers instruction in French, and in basic subjects such as math, geography, and art. The school also features running water and handwashing stations, ensuring that students develop good hygiene habits.

Renovations at the Women’s Center of Dakar to accommodate more patients
Oct 20, 2020

In 2016, Le Korsa and Dr. Juliette Faye opened Keur Djiguene Yi, the Women’s Health Center of Dakar, the first free, public, and government-sanctioned women’s health center in Senegal. Four years later, the center is seeing more patients than ever before and has expanded its staff and its space to meet demand. We could not be happier.

During KDY’s first year, Dr. Faye, who was working with one nurse at the time, offered complete reproductive and gynecological care, including pre- and post-natal exams, as well as education on contraception, family planning, HIV prevention, nutrition, and infant immunization, to just over 500 women. Word quickly spread about Dr. Faye’s warmth and excellence, as well as the center’s free care, and by 2018, 887 patients had visited the clinic. Many had brought their children for care, too.

“Because of the increase in patients, and the longer wait times, I asked for help and hired a second OBGYN as well as a pediatrician,” Dr. Faye said. Together, Dr. Faye and the center’s expanded staff — which now includes a second nurse — will see almost 1500 patients this year.

To handle the patient load, Dr. Faye and her team recently remodeled the center, which is accessibly located near a major bus station in the Derklé neighborhood of Dakar. “We transformed an office space into a second consultation room by adding a new examination table and screens for privacy,” Dr. Faye said. “We have also installed new cabinets for storing equipment and medicine, and we plan to add more chairs to the waiting room downstairs, so no one is obliged to wait outside,” she added.

All of these modifications will make the patients more comfortable, and the doctors better able to offer care. We hope that in the years to come, patient demand will be even higher, and we can make full use of the center’s three floors as well as its outdoor courtyard, which could be converted into a children’s playground or garden. To help support the center, please click here.

Fass School featured at Arch Daily
Oct 13, 2020

The Fass School, designed by Toshiko Mori, is given a close look in this feature at Arch Daily. Highlighting some of the technical and structural elements of the design, the article also features some of the architectural renderings, displaying the careful consideration that went into each and every decision about how this school could best serve its teachers and students.

Having opened last year, the school is now serving over 200 students, bringing elementary education to a region where students were receiving only Quranic instruction. It is a project we began working on in 2012.

Our primary goal was to bring a school to students who lacked one, but also to create a well-designed building that would support and enrich their experience. Toshiko Mori’s design does that through its form, an oval shape that “allows for easy circulation between classrooms, allowing the school’s few teachers to move quickly between classes.” Read more at Arch Daily.

Bac Passage Rate at Foyer de Jeunes Filles Is Higher than National Average
Oct 01, 2020

Students in Senegal who needed to take their Bac — the college entrance exam — did so late in August. At the Foyer de Jeunes Filles, the girls achieved a 50% acceptance rate, 10 points higher than the national average.

This is the second year in a row where the Foyer students have surpassed the national average. It is particularly impressive given the challenges all students and teachers faced this year.

“I want to thank our staff, all the parents, and most of all the students for their hard work in the difficult context of Covid 19,” said Maimouna Ka Sow, the director of the Foyer.

For the six students who passed their Bac, university awaits. If they choose to attend school in Dakar, they can take advantage of the program Le Korsa has created with Madame Sow, in which students from the Foyer share an apartment in Dakar. There, they can study and live together as they did at the Foyer, extending the community that contributed to their academic success while avoiding the often impossible situation of securing university housing in Dakar.

We are so proud of these students! In Senegal, only 32% of girls even enroll in secondary school. We are honored to support those who do so, and who go on to university. If you would like to support them too, please join us by making a donation.

Cashew trees against climate change
Sep 23, 2020

As unprecedented rains flooded parts of Senegal this summer, it became clear to us that we needed to redouble our efforts in helping the local population adapt to climate change.

Le Korsa decided to help the local population plant over 2000 cashew trees across 18 villages of the Tambacounda region. Each tree helps to stabilize the water table, prevent erosion, and restore nutrients to degraded soil. It also offers a food and income source: the nuts can be consumed and sold, as can the cashew apple (the fruit attached to the nut), which can be made into juice, preserves, or vinegar.  And the cashew tree, through pruning, can provide wood for cooking, preventing people from cutting other trees for charcoal making, a scourge of the region that leads to deforestation and compounds the negative effects of climate change.

“Once the populations are convinced that they can earn money from such plantations, they will plant these trees themselves,” Moussa said. “Our goal is to help them see that they can have a new cash crop while preserving the environment, and they can stop the abusive logging of trees,” he added.

Ever since 2015, we have run a free tree nursery from Thread, and anyone who wanted a tree could have one. But we are now expanding that effort by creating tree-steward committees in villages throughout the Tambacounda region, ensuring these groups receive proper training and support so they can tend to the trees while they take root.

Join us! You too can help plant trees that are essential for helping rural populations adapt to climate change.

Net gain: an important step in malaria prevention
Sep 16, 2020

Le Korsa has just distributed 1000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets to help prevent the spread of malaria in Senegal. We sent 500 to the Sinthian Medical Clinic in rural Tambacounda, and 500 to Keur Djiguene Yi, the Women’s Center of Dakar, where they will be distributed by Dr. Magueye Ba and Dr. Juliette Faye, respectively.

The nets are especially important this year, as a heavy rainy season has created sustained breeding conditions for mosquitoes. Compounding the problem are shortages in mosquito nets caused by the Covid-19 pandemic—many NGOs who could devote large budgets to malaria prevention have already spent their resources battling the coronavirus, and the usual supply chains are disrupted.

As soon as we learned about the pending problem two weeks ago, we acted. Coordinating with Dr. Ba and Dr. Faye, we purchased 1000 of the treated mosquito nets through a local supplier.

The nets are recommended by the World Health Organization for two essential reasons: the insecticide prevents mosquitoes from landing on the nets and biting people through them, and they are durable for up to three years, even after multiple washes.

Because pregnant women are especially vulnerable to malaria — the parasite can cause birth complications and increase the risk of child mortality — Dr. Juliette Faye was eager to have the nets at Keur Djiguene Yi, where she sees about 1000 expectant mothers each year. “The nets will be an enormous help to our patients,” she said.

You can help support this program, and all of our work, by making a donation. Thank you to everyone who already donated! You allowed us to respond quickly and effectively.

On Maternal Health and Making a Difference: Dr. Juliette Faye
Sep 10, 2020

Dr. Juliette Faye is is a certified OBGYN and the director of Keur Djiguene Yi, the Women’s Center of Dakar. In 2021 she will be a Mandela Washington Fellow, joining hundreds of other young African innovators for a leadership program in the United States.

As an OBGYN, can you tell people about the state of maternal health care in Senegal?

Maternal health in Senegal is not as good as we would like it to be in comparison with other countries. We have a high maternal mortality rate — 365 deaths per 100,000 births — which can be traced to a lack of qualified OBGYNs and midwives.

What can be done to improve reproductive health for women in Senegal?

Increasing the accessibility of prenatal and maternal healthcare, and decreasing the cost of that care, would improve it. And, importantly, we need to increase the overall technical capacities of clinics and hospitals throughout Senegal.

Tell us the typical experience of a pregnant woman in Senegal. Will she see a doctor? How often? 

The experience is different in urban and rural zones because of a difference in financial means and the number of qualified medical personnel. But if we take Dakar as an example, here, most women will see a midwife about two or three times during their pregnancy, which does not meet the standards of the World Health Organization. There is a list of blood tests that should be completed, but most women do not have the means to pay for them.

Can you talk about the differences for women from Dakar versus women from a rural village?

In Dakar we have better access to equipment, such as X-ray and sonogram machines, than in the rural zones, where there is almost no equipment of this kind. 

What is the most common cause of maternal death? What are you and the staff of KDY doing to prevent it?

The primary causes of maternal death are post-partum hemorrhaging and the complications related to high blood pressure at the end of the pregnancy. At the Women’s Center of Dakar, we offer preventative treatment for hypertension, we stay with the women all through childbirth, and we arrange for them to give birth in a hospital with an operating block and a present OBGYN, so that any complications during birth can be quickly treated. 

Does childbirth happen more often at home or in a hospital?

Now more in a hospital or a clinic.

What can NGOs such as Le Korsa do to help?

Le Korsa and other NGOs can support the training of doctors, help to increase access to medicine, and continue to implement projects where pregnant women can be seen by qualified doctors, as we have done at Keur Djiguene Yi, the Women’s Center of Dakar.

If you would like to help Dr. Faye and Le Korsa improve maternal health, please consider making a donation.

The Fass School wins an Architizer A+ award
Sep 04, 2020

The Fass School, which is the first to bring elementary education to a region where, for years, students received only Quranic instruction, has been awarded the jury’s pick in Architizer’s A+ Awards for the category of “Institutional: Primary and High Schools.” The awards are one of the largest forums for celebrating the year’s best architecture and promoting the importance of meaningful buildings.

This school, designed by Toshiko Mori Architect, is one of Le Korsa’s major projects, and the result of years of work with our partner Dr. Magueye Ba and the religious authorities of Medina Gounass, who govern the region. Together, we developed a model based on Senegal’s écoles franco-arabes, which allows Fass’s children to gain basic elementary education while simultaneously receiving traditional religious instruction.

Toshiko Mori’s design for the school building features open brickwork, a central courtyard, and progressively higher-ceilinged classrooms that give students a sense of their achievement as they advance through upper grades.

Since it opened in 2019, the school has increased its enrollment to over 200 girls and boys, and we are currently working with the administration in the village to hire more teachers. If you would like to support teachers’ salaries or school supplies, please join us by making a donation.

You can also read more about the project in a recent feature at designboom.

An interview with Dr. Magueye Ba
Aug 31, 2020

Dr. Ba, who runs the Sinthian, Fass, and Kocoum medical clinics, is one of our closest partners. He also runs a contracting company that built Thread and the Fass school, and is now busy working on the redesign of the Tambacounda Hospital maternity and pediatric wards. Dr. Ba answered some of our questions about life in Senegal during Covid 19, the coming malaria season, and how the hospital redesign is poised to change the region’s healthcare for the better.

How has the Covid 19 pandemic affected the population of Sinthian, Fass, and the surrounding region? Senegal has had a smaller number of cases than many other countries, but you and your patients face many difficulties in obtaining supplies during regular times. As a doctor in the region for over 15 years, what have you seen during these unprecedented months?

After the first case appeared here in March, Senegal put in place a certain number of restrictions that have had a major impact on its economy, health, and social fabric. The population is in a more difficult and stressful situation than it was prior to the pandemic.

At the medical centers of Sinthian, Fass and Kocoum, we have many patients with chronic conditions such as HIV, diabetes, or tuberculosis, and during the lockdown they found it near impossible to visit the clinics to obtain their medications. Inter-regional travel was prohibited, as was travel by motorbike, and in the interior, motorcycles are the most common means of transportation. Furthermore, certain patients who needed to go to Dakar for certain treatments, such as for cancer, were unable to do so. The consequences of these restrictions took their toll, with patients experiencing complications of their conditions, and many dying at home.

Regarding the economic impact, it’s important to mention that in rural Tambacounda, weekly markets are the most important means of exchange and commerce. With their suspension, many families experienced food shortages. People could not work nor buy food, so there was a real lack at the dinner table. Even though we had very few Covid 19 cases in the region, families were plunged into poverty, and what Le Korsa did, by providing food to the local population, and support to the Sinthian medical center, has helped immensely and given us life.

For now we continue to practice and promote all the proper hygienic measures, including frequent and rigorous handwashing. We are seeing less illness related to poor hygiene as a result.

Construction on Tambacounda hospital is advancing. How do you see this new building improving healthcare in Tambacounda?

The construction of this building, with its waiting room capacity, will be of capital importance for the entire region of Tambacounda, the patients, and medical staff.

Currently, the maternity ward at this regional hospital lacks beds. Those of us who are doctors out in the bush, and who need to refer patients to the hospital, are obligated to call ahead to see if there is a bed for one of our patients. Often, patients have to wait outside, under the trees.

It is the same in the pediatric ward. Because of the unit’s overall dilapidation, babies have to wait outside for their mothers, especially in cases where the mother needs some follow-up care.

Thanks to this new building’s waiting rooms and technical features, caring for patients will be much more efficient. No patients will be turned away. And its beauty and functionality will help keep OBGYNs and pediatricians practicing medicine here in Tambacounda, rather than deciding to leave for elsewhere.

This year, there has been more rain than usual in Tambacounda, which is good for crops, but it will also mean more mosquitoes and possibly a rough malaria season. Can you tell us what you are expecting in terms of malaria this year?

Malaria is the primary cause of death in our region, and children are the most vulnerable. Malaria can strike at any time during the year but it rises during the summer rainy season and peaks during September and October. Last year, we had 1010 cases in October, and five people died.

Children under the age of five who are malnourished or have anemia are the most likely to develop a serious form of malaria, which can cause neurological or hematological damage. It is the same for pregnant women, who can experience miscarriages, become underweight, or even lose too much blood while giving birth. So we pay the most attention to children under five and pregnant women.

For mild cases, treatment is simple and free. We also focus on preventative measures.

Mosquito nets are an excellent form of malaria prevention, but they must be used properly, and that can be hard to monitor. The other important preventative measure is proper cleaning in the villages, and ensuring that mosquitoes don’t have stagnant water in which to breed. So we are working on that, and we are grateful that Le Korsa is helping to provide more mosquito nets this year.

If you would like to help us prevent malaria, please consider making a donation so we can provide more nets.

Sports despite social distance
Aug 28, 2020

Exactly a year ago, we hosted a basketball training camp on our new outdoor surface located next to the artists’ residency and cultural center, Thread.

Each day, children came from three surrounding villages—Dialico, Koar, and Ngene—to learn new skills and techniques from Coach Maissa Fall and Coach Keita from Morocco.

Today, while, we cannot gather in large groups due to Covid-19 restrictions, athletes are still taking to the court on their own time, and with proper sanitation measures in place, to remain active.

The court has been a crucial outlet in a difficult time for everyone, when the normal routines of life have been disrupted. We are hopeful that we will be able to resume hosting sports workshops next year, and if you’d like to support them, please consider making a donation.

How a brick design for Tambacounda Hospital found its way to a school in Sare Sidi
Aug 07, 2020

When Le Korsa and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation began working with Tambacounda Hospital on improving the hospital’s maternity and pediatric units, we launched an architectural competition to solicit the best design.

Manuel Herz was the winner, and his reimagining of the spaces includes using perforated bricks that allow air to flow through the units, keeping them naturally cool.

While creating these bricks, our longstanding partner Dr. Magueye Ba — who is also the contractor for the Tambacounda hospital project, and whose team constructed Thread and the school in Fass — decided to use them as well on another school we were building with support from the Clara Lionel Foundation in Sare Sidi.

This school, which replaced a temporary structure of wood and thatch, is providing hundreds of children and their teachers with a safe and comfortable building that they previously lacked.

Le Korsa’s goal is always to use “minimal means for maximum effect” as Josef Albers stated, and Dezeen has more on this story of using resources, and good design, effectively and efficiently.

Even in a pandemic, books are being sent to Senegal
Jun 29, 2020

Les Amis du Korsa (LAMKO), our partners in France, have been organizing shipments of books to be distributed to schools and institutions in Senegal for over 5 years now.

The latest shipment, gathered by Louis Valentin and Alan Riding, is about to be sent to our office in Dakar, from which it will be distributed to the Foyer de Jeunes Filles in Tambacounda and the library at Thread in Sinthian. Thank you LAMKO!