News

A new medicinal garden at the Foyer
Oct 20, 2021

Herbal medicine is an important tradition in Senegalese culture. Certain elders in rural communities possess knowledge of local plants that are valued for their healing properties and therapeutic effects. 

To help the students at the Foyer learn more about these plants, Le Korsa, with the assistance of local agronomist Adama Sarr, recently planted a medicinal garden. The selected species were purchased from the local forestry service after being suggested by one of their chief gardeners, Mr. Touré. These included lemongrass, gamhar, moringa, and two types of acacia tree, all of which have medicinal value. 

The girls are already familiar with some  of these plants. To expand their knowledge, they are encouraged to learn more about other plants by talking to the elderly women in the community. The goal is to show the value of traditional knowledge, and provide another forum that might broaden the girls’ interest in different careers, such as becoming pharmacists or agronomists.

Adama, and two Foyer students, oversee the planting and maintenance of the garden. Mr. Touré also makes site visits to help explain more about the plants, and to demonstrate proper drying and storage techniques. Together, all are teaching the other girls, and the Foyer staff, to deepen their knowledge of botany and health.

If you would like to support the garden or the Foyer, please join us!

Gardens and Grains
Oct 13, 2021

Back in 2015, when Le Korsa began offering gardening training to the Sinthian women’s association, and dug them a bore-well for a year-round water supply, we knew that we were helping them lay the foundation for agricultural success. But we didn’t know just how far they, and our gardening programs, could come. Six years and several hectares later, we are working with women’s farming associations in Sinthian, Dialico, Fass, and Gadapara.

Over 200 women and their families are benefiting from these gardens, which provide a range of fresh produce throughout the year, from salad greens and eggplant to hot peppers and okra. Whatever they don’t consume is sold, and the proceeds go back into the communal fund of their respective associations.

That fund has allowed the women of Sinthian, for example, to build the capacity to produce an enriched flour consisting of millet, fonio, corn and peanuts. It is used in local medical centers to help nourish underweight children. The production and sale of the flour has allowed the women to increase their collective income, and to put more money not only towards tools and seeds, but towards the livelihood of their families, including education and medical costs.

Their success is a testament to the possibility of doing so much with so little. If you would like to help support our gardening programs, we hope you will make a donation.

Sinthian’s soccer tournament returns
Sep 21, 2021

Countless events were canceled last year because of Covid restrictions, among them the highly popular Sinthian soccer tournament, which unites thousands of people throughout the region. This year, the government granted special dispensation to hold the tournament. “It is as if people were waiting for it,” said Moussa Sene, Le Korsa’s program director in Tambacounda.

Sixteen teams again came to Sinthian to test their mettle on the soccer field across from Thread over several days of play.

Beyond the physical activity, beyond the power of sport to create community, the tournament is also an occasion to gather people from villages scattered around the rural Tambacounda region and share with them some of the programs Le Korsa offers, from free tree seedlings to helping students obtain birth certificates. In past years, Dr. Magueye Ba has offered malaria prevention and AIDS prevention workshops, and theater troupes have performed their plays for large audiences.

The tournament also helps the school year get underway in an unexpected manner: many of the teams who participate gather in their local schools to have meetings before practice, and so they fix up the buildings in the process. Otherwise, making repairs to schools damaged during the rainy season can delay the start of the academic year. This communal effort, in addition to the thrilling footwork seen day in and day out the field, is what makes the tournament so special.

“The youth is such an asset,” Moussa added. “We are planning to see how, with minimal means, they can contribute in transforming the area economically.”

Dr. Juliette Faye completes a Mandela Washington Fellowship
Sep 06, 2021

Despite seeing patients at the Women’s Center of Dakar around the clock, despite pandemic restrictions, time differences, and delays, this summer Dr. Juliette Faye completed a Mandela Washington Fellowship through the U.S. Department of State’s Young African Leaders Initiative. The program, begun under President Obama, invites up to 700 leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa to expand their leadership skills through six weeks of study with university-based researchers and professors.

Because of the pandemic, Dr. Faye’s program with the University of Minnesota was conducted virtually rather than on the campus of a university, but it was no less impactful for being digital. Dr. Faye continued to develop a plan to ensure that Keur Djiguene Yi, the Women’s Center of Dakar, is sustainable for years to come and can expand beyond the capital. Currently, the clinic offers free pre- and post-natal care, as well as pediatric care, to low-income women and their families in Dakar, most of whom live on the outskirts of the city. Dr. Faye has also been hoping to set up mini-clinics, for two weeks at a time, in rural parts of Senegal where licensed OBGYNs are few and far between.

In Dakar, the clinic’s costs are subsidized by seeing patients who are able to afford the full fees, and while this model would not be as effective in rural areas where women earn less income, through the Mandela Washington Fellowship Dr. Faye explored other ways to efficiently run satellite clinics. We at Le Korsa are prepared to help. In Dakar, the staff of Keur Djiguene Yi also provides education to their patients about family planning, helps them arrange appointments at area hospitals, and in certain cases, aids them in finding employment. Bringing such services to Senegal’s rural zones is essential, and we know that Dr. Faye is the leader to do it.

Congratulations on your fellowship Dr. Faye!

Tambacounda Hospital featured in Metropolis magazine
Aug 18, 2021

As Tambacounda Hospital’s redesigned maternity and pediatric units are being prepared to receive patients, their unique design still has the architectural world talking. Over at Metropolis magazine, Vera Sacchetti takes a look at how Manuel Herz, Magueye Ba, the hospital staff and the local community have created a form of “territorial intervention.”

Rain, Trees, Gardens
Aug 11, 2021

With the rainy season having arrived to the Tambacounda region, the women’s gardens in Sinthian, Dialico and Fass are flourishing. Cissé Kante, who helps oversee the agricultural efforts, said, “Bitter eggplant is well-along, and it’s the beginning of the season for okra and aubergine. The women are weeding and planting out the gardens, and aerating the soil.”

Thanks to your donations, we have been able to help these women extend the size of their gardens—the women in Fass are cultivating another hectare—and set up a new one in Sinthiourou. That one, located between Dialico and Sinthian, will allow the men and women of that village to cultivate vegetables much closer to home, without having to walk the three kilometers to Dialico, where they were previously gardening. By providing a bore-well, and ongoing instruction in agriculture from expert Habib Dieye, Le Korsa is helping this village solidify its access to food and a source of income.

Trees remain an essential part of these gardens. Throughout them, another 40 fruit trees have been planted, including mango, guava, lemon, pomegranate and cashew. They provide crucial shade and other sources of food and income; the fruit can be eaten out of hand as well as made into jams and preserves.

Because some of these gardens are now in their fifth year, the trees we planted back in 2015-2016 are yielding their first fruit—the women have been taking home plenty of mangoes this year, and know there will be more to come.

You make it all possible.

With new wave of infections, personal protective equipment is again paramount
Jul 29, 2021

Last year, when we provided a large batch of personal protective equipment — masks, gloves, sanitizer — to our medical partners in Senegal, we acquired enough supplies to last them for an extended period of time. But we couldn’t foresee just how extended it would be; the coronavirus has its own plans for survival and continues to find new ways to spread.

As Senegal faces a third wave of coronavirus infections—its worst—driven by the Delta variant, our partners in Dakar, Tambacounda, and surrounding rural villages are again asking for the basic supplies that are necessary when treating patients. We are helping them acquire more high-quality N95 and KN95 masks, as well as disposable gloves and sanitizer.

Thanks to a $25,000 grant for coronavirus relief from the Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Kaye Foundation, we have already furnished Dr. Juliette Faye, at the Women’s Center of Dakar, with a fresh batch of supplies. Soon, more will be reaching Dr. Magueye Ba at the Sinthian Medical Clinic, and others will be sent to Tambacounda Hospital.

Senegal, for much of the pandemic, has had a very low infection rate, attributed sometimes to its youthful population and its warm climate, where much of life takes place outdoors. But with only approximately 700,000 fully vaccinated individuals out of a population of 15 million, the virus will continue to circulate and we will continue to provide supplies. If you would like to contribute to coronavirus relief in Senegal, please join us by making a donation.

The Joys of Visual Experimentation
Jul 15, 2021

Josef Albers said that teaching art is about leading students to a greater awareness of what they see, and that good teaching consists of asking the right questions.

To give students in rural Senegal better access to visual learning and art education, Le Korsa has launched a series of art classes at Les Foyers des Jeunes Filles in Tambacounda. 

Held for three hours every other Saturday, the classes allow the 130 young women of the Foyer to look at and appreciate art, learn about artists, and experiment with different artistic techniques. The courses also feature color and design exercises based on the teachings of Josef Albers, including some from Albers For Kids, an early-learning program that was created by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

This broad approach, says local artist Bi Faye, who teaches the workshops, helps “to wake students up to the joys of using their imagination.” 

Bi is an experienced teacher who brings a dynamic vision to the courses. During the week he teaches at Gouye College, a middle school in Tambacounda, as well as at the Tambacounda Cultural Center. He works in multiple mediums, including music, and is devoted to helping the girls discover a diverse range of artists from their region and beyond, including Saliou Diop (Tambacounda), Silvia Rosi (Togo/Italy), Amadou Sanogo (Mali), Nabeeha Mohamed (South Africa), Kudzanai-Violet Hwami (Zimbabwe) and Annie-Marie Akussah (Ghana). 

Because the percentage of female artists in Tambacounda is low, Bi wants to expose the girls to as many women artists as possible, knowing that positive role models for young learners can be hugely influential. Some artists will be invited to speak to the girls as part of “Femmes Modèles,” a new series at the Foyer in which women from different professions share their career paths with the students.

For now, though, the students are focused on hands-on learning and art-making. After beginning to teach the courses in March, one of the early exercises that Bi introduced to the girls was “One Color Becomes Two,” adapted from an assignment in Josef Albers’s Interaction of Color. Albers’s assignments were new to Bi, but with the support of staff members he saw how he could include them in the workshops in Tambacounda. The results have been thrilling.

 “It’s astonishing to see how different a color appears, just because the background color changes!” said one of the students after comparing two yellow squares, cut from the same sheet of paper, when placed atop two differently colored backgrounds. Such visual discovery—and joy—is exactly what these courses are meant to foster. 

As the girls have been attending the classes, Maimouna Ka Sow, the director of the Foyer, has been encouraged by another change too: the girls are more confident and better able to think creatively in all domains. 

That is the ultimate hope: that these courses, combined with all the other offerings of the Foyer, will help the young women grow, and become more confident with creative problem-solving and self-expression. 

But our deepest goal is simply to provide the opportunity for the young women to be aware of the beauty of art and to gain more skills to create the life they want in the future. Our wish is for the young women to discover and be inspired by art. 

As our founder Nicholas Fox Weber put it, “Through experimenting with the materials and techniques of art, the young women at the Foyer learn the power of cause and effect and experience the wonder of vision in every sense of the word.”

Matthias Persson 

From Gouache to Chisel: A Drawing Becomes a Door
Jul 06, 2021

Bringing the healing power of art to hospitals is a tradition at the Albers Foundation and Le Korsa. In 2012, Le Korsa funded the repainting of murals depicting animals from fables in the pediatric neurosurgery ward at Fann Hospital in Dakar. In 2018, the Albers Foundation collaborated with St. Mary’s Hospital in London to install reproductions of works by Josef and Anni Albers in the redesigned pediatric intensive care unit. And two years later, students at Publicolor, an arts nonprofit in New York City, which the Foundation has supported, painted Anni Albers-inspired works which they then hung in Mt. Sinai hospital.

The legacy continues in the redesign of Tambacounda Hospital’s pediatric and maternity units. Manuel Herz’s architecture is itself a large-scale work of art with its great sensitivity to rhythm, form, light and color, but it also includes subtle details that enrich the space with the spirit of the Alberses. In a 2020 planning meeting, Le Korsa and Albers staff members suggested to Manuel the idea of somehow incorporating an Albers work into the redesign. He absorbed the idea and lit upon transposing the pattern in an Anni Albers drawing, made in 1928 as a preparatory sketch for a children’s rug, into hand-hewn doors for the hospital. 

Fabricating these doors, like so much of our work, was a creative collaboration—in this case between Manuel, contractor Dr. Magueye Ba, and the carpenters who cut and created the pattern. “There were really two solutions for the design of these doors,” Dr. Ba said. “To sculpt the pattern in relief, which would have resulted in a very heavy door, or to create it out of individual pieces and affix them to the door panel,” said Dr. Ba. “We opted for the latter,” he added.

As Manuel explained, “We ‘translated’ the tone of each square into a height. For darker squares, the wooden cube is higher, and for lighter squares, the wooden cube is lower. I think the carpenters eventually started to bring in their own arrangement, so that not every door is precisely following the layout of Anni’s sketch. But they all follow the logic of the arrangement of darker and lighter color fields,” he said.

This solution—turning two-dimensional color into three-dimensional design while accommodating for the interpretation of an individual carpenter’s hand—resulted in a set of beautiful doors that now grace the rooms in the new maternity and pediatric units. 

While a new father opening one of these doors to greet his wife and newborn for the first time may not know of Anni Albers’s original drawing, the care put into these portals is undeniable. They will be entryways to some of the most important moments in life, and subtle reminders of what Anni Albers once told her students: “You can go anywhere from anywhere.”

A Net Good: Fashion and Art to Support the Foyer
Jun 29, 2021

Paris-based fashion brand Verlan recently launched “Art for All,” a program to promote art and its accessibility through collaborations with international artists and non-profit organizations. For its inaugural edition, Verlan invited artist Marie Hazard to collaborate on a series of 110 white T-shirts with a one-off artwork. She chose to support Le Korsa and the new art classes at Les Foyers des Jeunes Filles in Tambacounda. 

Matthias Persson interviewed Marie and Lucca Lamoine, founder of Verlan, about the project. 

Matthias Persson: How did you first hear about Le Korsa?

Marie Hazard: The work of Anni and Josef Albers has long resonated with me and I was delighted to discover the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation some years ago. From there, the dots just seemed to connect, leading me to Thread and then Le Korsa. It’s a truly amazing combination of worthy causes. My dream would be to visit Senegal one day and meet the young ladies our project is supporting: to share our work, ideas and passions.

MP: What is your relation to Les Foyers des Jeunes Filles in Tambacounda?

MH: I’m 26 years old and thought to myself, I could have been in their shoes not so long ago. At that age so many things change so fast. Having access to medical facilities, education, sports, and art is so important. And you need help and support to feel secure and confident. Without that support it’s so much harder to make the right life choices. 

MP: Do you believe it is important for young people to receive art education? 

MH: I believe art is a way to spark your senses. We need this more than ever right now, during and after the pandemic. To find focus we need to concentrate on what brings us joy, what can bring us new, worthwhile experiences. Art education can reveal these different options to us and is clearly an invaluable means towards expressing oneself, finding oneself and succeeding on any path.  

MP: How did you end up with this particular design/motif with the blue threads?

MH: After a lot of trial and error! This design arrived after trying out many different colors and hues. I love blue because it acts as a color metaphor for so many subjects. And it’s gender neutral. I try to avoid notions of male versus female. The blue threads make up a net, which has deep symbolic meaning to me: representing interconnectedness, vacant space, structure and both strength and fragility. 

MP: Why were you keen to support Le Korsa with this project?

Lucca Lamoine: As soon as Marie proposed Le Korsa as the non-profit organization to support, it immediately appeared to be the perfect choice. Marie’s work has many links with education, culture, and the interconnectedness that Le Korsa supports. 

MP: How did the format (the collaboration between you and an artist, supporting an NGO) arise?

LL: We have been living in a strange world. Artists have struggled to show their art and audiences have been deprived of viewing. We believed the art world should respond to this unprecedented situation in an accessible and inclusive manner. And so Verlan’s “Art for All” program came into being. It promotes art and its accessibility via non-profit collaborations between international artists and the NGO or charity they select. All profits are then donated to this organization. 

MP: Can you tell us about the white T-shirt design and the material used?

LL: It started with the T-shirt serving as a “blank canvas.” Marie quickly came up with the idea to bond, through an original artwork, the Covid crisis as experienced in Europe to the situation facing people in Tambacounda. The result: Marie’s delicate yet strong net—a combination of linen, angora and polyester threads—that represents, as she puts it, “interconnectedness, vacant spaces, structure, strength and fragility all at once.”

The T-shirts are produced from heavyweight organic cotton, and designed to be straight-fitting and unisex. All are numbered by hand, from 1 – 110, and signed by Marie on the inside care label. Also, thanks to Arianee Blockchain technology, every T-shirt has a NFC chip, allowing owners to access information about their garment, receive invitations for launches and resell their product in the unlikely event that they choose to do so.

To learn more, visit Verlan.

Extending the power of the Foyer to Dakar
Jun 23, 2021

When Le Korsa began operating the Foyer des Jeunes Filles in concert with its director Maimouna Ka Sow back in 2017, the goal was simple: to bring the Foyer’s enrollment to full capacity and to ensure that as many girls as possible received their Bac and went on to college.

Nearly five years later, the results have been stellar. There are now 140 girls in attendance at the Foyer, up from 95; new programs such as the sewing business Sutura, and biweekly art classes, have been launched; and more girls than ever are passing their Bac. In fact, for the past few years, girls at the Foyer have passed the Bac at a higher rate than Senegal’s national average.

What became, clear, though, was that not all girls who went on to university Dakar were thriving. Student housing in Dakar is notoriously hard to come by. Some girls were spending all their time commuting to classes, leaving them so exhausted that their studies were suffering. And most of all, the girls missed the incredibly rich and supportive environment that they had experienced at the Foyer, where they lived, worked, and studied together, each urging the others on.

Thanks to generous donors Laurel and Mike Hixon, we have been able to provide that support by renting an apartment for Foyer students in Dakar. The apartment is located near the university, and is large enough to house all 13 students; it also has shared computers and a kitchen. Laurel and Mike also thought it was crucial to provide the girls with stipends for academic supplies and groceries, which their families are hard-pressed to afford. Maimouna Ka Sow visits the students regularly when she is up from Tambacounda, and our Dakar-based staff checks in with the students to help fix any issues at the apartment.

With more girls expected to pass their Bac and move to Dakar, we are already thinking about expanding this “satellite Foyer” to a larger apartment. For if the goal of the Foyer is to ensure that girls from rural Tambacounda can complete their studies rather than marry at a young age, then seeing them through their college education is essential.

If you would like to join Laurel and Mike in supporting these amazing young women, we would love to have you on board.

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.