Through film, education about clandestine migration
Mar 14, 2019
As part of our International Women’s Day activities on March 8, we partnered with a Dakar association, Action Citoyenne pour la Solidarité et le Développement (Citizens for Solidarity and Development) to screen the film “Alpha/Aisadou,” which documents the effects of clandestine migration on a Senegalese mother and her son. The film was created by Alberto Amoretti and Giovanni Hänninen, two Italian filmmakers who were residents at Thread.
The association’s theme for the day was the “Role and Responsibility of Women in Preventing Clandestine Migration,” and over 80 people attended the screening to watch the film and discuss the complex issues it portrays. Some mothers, for example, support the migration of their sons. They are often unaware of the journey’s perils and believe it will yield a better life for their entire family. Others are staunchly against it and implore their sons not to leave. Still, many young men migrate because they see no career opportunities for themselves in Senegal and cannot bear to see their mothers, or their sisters or wives, living in poverty.
Because there are no easy solutions to the problem, the goal of the screenings is to provide firsthand accounts of those who have migrated, such as Alpha, who lacks papers and subsists on the fringes of Italian society, so that the realities of the experience are clear.
Massamba Camara, who has been organizing the screenings throughout Senegal, said, “It was the first time I saw people break into tears during the screening. Over five women cried, some because they had lost their brothers, others because they never knew their sons had made such a dangerous journey trying to make them happy.”
Sinthian’s tree nursery bears fruit
Mar 07, 2019
One of the first projects Le Korsa undertook in Sinthian after Thread opened in 2015 was starting a tree nursery in the center’s gardens.
We seeded over 5000 trees, including cashew, mango, lemon, and moringa trees, which we planned to distribute throughout the village and the surrounding areas. In Tambacounda’s hot and arid climate, these trees are essential: they provide food, shade, and help stabilize the soil and prevent erosion.
Four years laters, these seedlings are reaching maturity and bearing their first fruits. Throughout Sinthian, Koar, Sinthian Samba Courou, Ngene, Dialico, Tambacounda, and Fass, families have planted them in their compounds; schools have added them to their grounds; and churches and mosques have seen them grow up alongside their buildings.
The first fruit crop is already bolstering families’ daily diet, but as the trees mature, the crops will increase significantly. To help the local population take advantage of what’s to come, we have constructed a food transformation space in Sinthian, where raw fruit can be turned into jam or other preserves. We are just starting to develop this program, but have hopes that it can be duplicated in other villages. With seeds and initiative, rural communities can grow food and earn income while preserving the environment.
The school in Fass is open!
Feb 13, 2019
We and our partners in the rural village of Fass realized our collective dream on February 2: officially opening the first school in the village, and the greater region, to offer Quranic and non-Quranic instruction.
Now, alongside the teaching of a Quranic master, there are classes for boys and girls in the French language and in all the traditional subjects of an elementary school curriculum, along with practical skills including carpentry, sewing, fishing, and cooking. Previously, none of the villagers has been able to read and write, either in the local language of Pulaar or in French; the new literacy will be life-changing. The region’s religious leaders have determined the program according to their desires with a full appreciation of the need of the local people to expand their horizons at the same time that they maintain the vital traditions of Islam.
Designed by Toshiko Mori Architect, the school’s circular structure and open brickwork keep the interiors cool yet light-filled during the hottest part of the day. As students advance into upper grade levels, they move through classrooms whose ceilings increase in height, an apt reminder of the progress they are making.
The idea for the school goes back to 2012, when Le Korsa inaugurated a new maternity unit at the Fass Medical Center in partnership with Dr. Magueye Ba. After the ceremony, the local Imam, Thierno Sall, expressed his desire for a school in the village to Le Korsa founder and president Nicholas Fox Weber, and a dialogue began.
Seven years later, thanks to incredible partnerships with Dr. Ba and Thierno Sall, the leadership in Medina Gounass, and the generosity of Laurel Hixon, Michael Keane, and their son Alex Keane, school is in session.
Bookshow: art and literature at Espace Medina
Jan 28, 2019
In partnership with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, we supported the launch of Bookshow, an exhibition series in Dakar, Senegal, that unites artists, critics, and writers for installations and performances about libraries and literature.
Held at Espace Medina, an arts space founded in 1960, the first iteration focused on literary representations of Africa by Africans. Participants in the exhibition reflected on the work of Cameroonian theorist Achille Membe, as well as other classic texts from the Black Atlantic tradition. They staged a performative reading in the gallery and on the street, and also engaged all inhabitants of the Medina neighborhood by presenting research, translations and original writing in Wolof.
The event drew hundreds of visitors to its opening, and many are returning to the exhibit on a daily basis.
We previously collaborated with Espace Medina on Mon Super Kilomètre, a kilometer-long art installation in Dakar, as part of the 2018 Dakar Biennale, and are looking forward to continuing our relationship with the space.
Progress on Tambacounda Hospital
Jan 07, 2019
Manuel Herz’s team shared with us some photos of test façades for the Tambacounda Hospital expansion project. His team, with our support, is hard at work making the final preparations for construction, which will start soon.
If you would like to support the project, there are several ways to do so. You can make a pledge and receive a limited-edition, framed reproduction of an artwork by Josef or Anni Albers. Please click here if you would like to purchase one and directly support Tambacounda Hospital. Please note that all pricing for these limited edition products is in British pounds and is not tax-deductible in the United States or France.
For more information on the campaign-launch event titled Starting at Zero, which featured Chef Elena Arzak’s cuisine inspired by Anni Albers’s life and work, please click here.
Join Our Biggest Project Yet
Dec 18, 2018
On December 6 at the Tate Modern in London, Le Korsa and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation hosted a benefit event for the construction of the desperately needed new maternity and pediatric wards at Tambacounda Hospital.
A very limited supply of reproductions of artworks by Josef and Anni Albers is still available; please click here if you would like to purchase one and directly support Tambacounda Hospital. Please note that all pricing for these limited edition products is in British pounds and is not tax-deductible in the United States or France.
For more information on this incredible event titled Starting at Zero, which featured Chef Elena Arzak’s cuisine inspired by Anni Albers’s life and work, please click here.
United States Ambassador to Senegal visits Thread
Dec 05, 2018
On November 26, 2018, His Excellency United States Ambassador Tulinabo S. Mushigui visited Thread and Sinthian to see Le Korsa’s work in action.
Ambassador Mushigui mentioned that he had been planning a visit to Sinthian ever since he saw an exhibition in New York City that featured Thread, and had said to himself, “I have to be there.” It was a perfect time for a visit, as he was able to hear about Le Korsa’s work directly from the people it benefits.
To kick off the visit, local students performed some of the region’s traditional dances for him. Then, Moussa Sene, Thread’s General Manager, described the range of Le Korsa’s work, from art and agriculture to education and medicine, and how it impacts the local population. After Moussa’s introduction, Dr. Ba presented his and Le Korsa’s medical efforts in the region; the head of the Sinthian women’s GIE spoke about the collective’s agricultural work; the men’s beekeeping group explained how they harvest honey and bottle and sell it; and a delegation of local teachers shared how Le Korsa’s provisioning of school supplies has improved education in the surrounding area.
Ambassador Mushigui stressed how delighted he was to see Le Korsa’s work in person, and to hear firsthand accounts from Sinthian’s inhabitants about the improvements in their lives. He also mentioned how much he enjoyed seeing two of Anni Albers’s artworks—Second Movement III and Second Movement IV—in the United States’s Dakar embassy, thanks to the Art in Embassies program.
Le Korsa was honored by Ambassador Mushigui’s visit, and we are glad to count him and his team among our supporters.
A New Way to Support Girls’ Education
Nov 19, 2018
In Tambacounda, young women face many obstacles to pursuing education, from early marriage and child-bearing to their families not wanting them to attend school. Most of them are also impeded by an issue that is not prominent in developed countries: a lack of sanitary pads during menstruation. Because young women in Tambacounda can’t afford or access hygienic products, they don’t attend school when they are menstruating. These gaps in attendance are detrimental to each girl’s education, often holding them back from graduating and attending college. Some girls do fashion their own pads from whatever materials they have available, whether it’s old clothes, mattress foam, or leaves—none of which is hygienic.
Le Korsa is working to improve the situation. Thanks to a partnership with Mary Consolata Namagambe, the founder of the Ugandan-based organization She for She, which teaches young women to create their own comfortable and reusable sanitary pads, we ran an important production and business training at the Foyer de Jeunes Filles.
From October 25 to 31, Mary and four professional seamstresses worked with six girls at the Foyer. They taught this small group to make reusable sanitary pads, but also how they might turn the operation into a small business by producing and selling large orders of pads to local organizations and schools. Le Korsa is actively helping the Foyer develop a business plan for this project, which will be designed to provide a source of employment for those girls who are unable to pass the entrance exam to college. We are just in the early stages of what we will hope will be a transformative enterprise for the young women of the Foyer, and of Tambacounda.
Thanks to Mary, and to the generosity of Laurel and Mike Hixon, we were also able to bring 200 pads to the rural village of Fass, and run a workshop on feminine hygiene with the nurses at the medical center. Finally, in Sinthian, Mary and Le Korsa team members taught a large group of young women and girls to hand-sew their own pads, using fabrics that they might have available.
Soon, we hope, all of these women will have one less obstacle between them and their education.
Thread is a finalist for the FIBRA award
Oct 18, 2018
Thread is among the 50 finalists for the first FIBRA award, which honors architecture constructed from bio-based and natural materials. Congratulations to the Thread team, and to Toshiko Mori Architect, who designed the building. Learn more about the FIBRA award here: https://www.fibra-award.org/en/about/background/
Sinthian soccer tournament returns
Sep 26, 2018
The annual soccer tournament hosted in Sinthian by Thread and Le Korsa has just begun. This year’s fourth edition will again feature 16 local teams, but it will also have a new component: educational workshops and events for the over 1000 spectators who come to Sinthian to see the final match.
Before the final, Dr. Magueye Ba, who runs the Sinthian medical center, will be offering a workshop on maternal health, HIV prevention, family planning, and infant immunization. His presentation will be followed by a screening of a film about the realities of clandestine migration, created by Giovanni Hänninen and Alberto Amoretti, which will be capped by a discussion on that topic.
To help this important material reach those who cannot be in Sinthian, each village that participates in the tournament will designate two of its team members as youth ambassadors. Their task will be to disseminate the health and migration information in their villages, and to remain in touch with Le Korsa for further collaboration.
With the tournament drawing more and more people to Sinthian and Thread, we felt it was a perfect opportunity to share potentially life-saving information with a large segment of the local population. We hope that this year’s tournament will be a new model for how we can integrate sports and development work, and we’ll provide more updates as we have them.
Thread featured in TIME’s World’s Greatest Places
Aug 23, 2018
Thread, the artists’ residency and cultural center in Sinthian created by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Le Korsa, and designed by Toshiko Mori Architect, has been selected as one of Time magazine’s “The World’s Greatest Places.”
This is Time’s first annual list of 100 destinations that are breaking new ground, leading industry trends, and offering visitors an extraordinary experience. Read more here.
Broadcasting from the Foyer de Jeunes Filles
Jul 30, 2018
From June 26 to July 1, twenty young women at the Foyer de Jeunes Filles in Tambacounda learned the basics of radio and print journalism from two well-known Senegalese journalists, El Bachir Sow and Mbagnick Diouf. The program, coordinated in part by Le Korsa and the Foyer, was designed to help the young women develop storytelling and reporting skills while also learning more about women’s rights and the ill consequences of early marriage.
The journalists taught the young women how to conduct interviews, how to write for print and for radio, and how journalism could be a tool for change in their communities. The participants then produced a radio program on early marriage, which you can listen to here (please note it is in French). They also produced a French-language newspaper, which you can download here.
We are thrilled with all the women at the Foyer accomplished in a few short days, and are looking forward to seeing these voices develop. A huge thanks goes out to El Bachir Sow, Mbagnick Diouf, Victoria Ebin, and Maimouna Ka Sow, for all their work in putting together this excellent workshop.
A look at the Tambacounda Hospital expansion
Jun 21, 2018
We’re very excited to share some renderings for the Tambacounda Hospital expansion being created by architect Manuel Herz.
The new S-shaped building will maintain a visual consistency with the existing hospital structures, and contain two floors of much-needed space.
The first floor will house an updated and expanded maternity ward, and the second floor will be the home of a large pediatrics unit. These new facilities will be life-changing and life-saving for the patients and staff of Tambacounda Hospital, who have long endured crowded waiting areas and cramped examination and operating rooms.
Arch Daily on the Tambacounda Hospital Project
Jun 06, 2018
The architecture website Arch Daily has a nice article about the Tambacounda Hospital expansion project, which Manuel Herz is designing. Members of Manuel’s team were in Senegal this month to meet with hospital staff and city engineers in preparation for the construction process.
Sharing the realities of clandestine migration
Mar 21, 2018
Over the last ten years an enormous number of African men and women have attempted migration to Europe in search of a better life. Too often, as the news constantly reminds us, that better life is not to be found: the journey from West Africa to Libya is often fatal; those who do make it to the coast may not make it across the Mediterranean; and the well-paying job in Europe never materializes for those without a legal right to be there.
This reality, as Le Korsa has learned, is misunderstood by so many in Senegal, and most often by the very young men and women who would risk their lives as migrants. Le Korsa is acting to change that. We have launched a series of film screenings and discussions throughout the Tambacounda region that educate potential migrants and their families about the hazards of the journey. Arranged and coordinated by our staff, the screenings unite mothers, daughters, sons, teachers, artists, local leaders and so many more to see true accounts of migrants, and to discuss how the resources devoted to migration—often substantial sums of money—could be better used in Tambacounda.
After the first screening in Sinthian of “Alpha/Aisadou,” a short film about a mother in Sinthian and her son who has left the village for a precarious life in Sicily, one young man stood up and said, “I planned to sell my goats and leave for Europe, but now I plan to keep them and make a life here.” On March 8, International Women’s Day, we arranged another screening in Tambacounda, thanks to the support of “Niani Wouli,” a women’s group whose members have lost the men in their lives to migration. Afterwards, many women in the audience stated that they would no longer support migration, and would encourage others to speak out.
We have much work to do. Eighteen more screenings are planned for the coming months, thanks to the tireless organization of Massamba Camara. And none would be possible without the six incredible films, created by Alberto Amoretti and Giovanni Hänninen, each of which focuses on a different theme of migration from Senegal to Sicily.
We also thank you, our donors, because your generosity makes such programs possible. If you would like to contribute to this effort, please visit our secure donation page. Thank you.
– Andrew Seguin, Director of Communications
To view the trailer of “Alpha/Aisadou,” please click here: https://vimeo.com/258309032/0ed32a12f3
Fass’s school, ready to change lives
Feb 21, 2018
The celebration of the school in Fass on Tuesday, February 13, was beyond thrilling. It marked years of preparation and negotiations by Le Korsa and Dr. Magueye Ba with the local leaders, who finally agreed two years ago to allow Le Korsa to build a non-Koranic school, the first ever in the village. It is a sea change for Fass, where illiteracy is nearly total. The outward look that secular education will bring to the children of Fass is palpable in the school’s design, which is airy and circular, dappled by light, and from every point open to the world.
Laurel Hixon and Michael Keane, who made the school’s construction possible through donations and fundraising, were on hand to see the structure for the first time. Jordan MacTavish, who designed the school, was there, too, to see it filled with students and truly come alive. But no one could have been more excited than the future students themselves, who already feel at home in the school’s inviting spaces. There is still some construction to complete, including thatching the roof, so the students won’t attend classes there until next fall, but the feeling of progess in Fass is incredible. Thanks to all who made it possible.
Wassadou’s garden, revitalized
Jan 31, 2018
Brian Harris sent this amazing report back from Wassadou Medical Center, where we have worked to replant and restore the garden that once provided food to the staff and patients.
“The nearly two hectares of land behind the Wassadou Medical Center, with a well run dry and a very recent, all-consuming bush fire, could have easily fallen back into dense, useless, scrub land. With a grant from World Connect, we were able to empower Njaree Ngom to deepen the well, and to hire two gardeners and a technician. The garden here has enormous potential, and having only started on January 1st, I am thrilled with what has already been accomplished.
The produce, used in both the hospital for staff meals and for sale on the market, can supply nutritious food to the center and the neighboring communities. On my visit, I met a cheerful Dr. Ndaiy, walking with a young Premier Urgence staffer named Clementine, who was infectiously optimistic about expanding the garden in the entire two hectares.”
We’ll send back another report from our February trip to Senegal.
A market garden is coming to Wassadou
Nov 02, 2017
Wassadou medical center, located between Tambacounda and Kedougou, is a crucial health outpost for the rural villages of the area. The center’s doctors and staff all live on site, and once upon a time they had a beautiful market garden that provided food for meals as well as income for the center. But in recent years, due to a lack of resources, they could no longer care for the garden and its many fruit trees. The center lost an immediate source of food and income, and the staff’s morale dropped as a result. So we’re thrilled to report that we’re bringing the garden back.
World Connect, who funded the Fass garden, has agreed to help us fund the restoration of the garden at Wassadou. To get it flourishing again, the Wassadou staff will be drilling a new bore well and devoting two full-time staff to watering, maintenance, and oversight of the crops. Habib Dieye, Le Korsa’s agricultural coordinator, will be offering his expertise to ensure Wassadou’s staff is properly trained in market gardening.
It’s an exciting development that means Wassadou Medical Center will again be operating at its full potential. With improved staff performance, and more income, the center is capable of treating 10,000 patients per year. We’ll keep you posted as the work begins.
Thread earns accolades in African Architecture Awards
Oct 17, 2017
We are delighted to announce that Thread has been awarded a Certificate of Merit in the 2017 African Architecture Awards. It stood out from over 300 submissions to the contest.
The awards inspired fierce debate about the identity of African architecture, and the jury’s decisions were made only after much dialogue and deliberation. You can read more about it in the Architectural Review.
We are thrilled to have been part of such an impassioned debate, and to have Thread be recognized among so many other excellent buildings and projects. Congratulations to Toshiko Mori and her team of architects, including Jordan MacTavish, who designed Thread!
Support beekeeping in Senegal
Sep 26, 2017
We have an amazing opportunity to help our friends in rural Sinthian, Senegal, earn money through beekeeping, and preserve their environment in the process. Please join us in supporting them and promoting a healthy ecosystem! You can make a donation on our Go Fund Me campaign page, https://www.gofundme.com/keeping-bees-creating-jobs, and learn more about the beekeepers and the incredible honey they are harvesting. Thank you so much for your support!
A third container of supplies for Tambacounda Hospital
Sep 05, 2017
We are thrilled to report that a third container of medical supplies, donated by Project C.U.R.E. and shipped by Le Korsa, arrived to Tambacounda Hospital last week.
This shipment, which included new beds, surgery tables, dental equipment, as well as plenty of basics such as gauze, gloves, and sanitizer, will allow the hospital’s staff to offer better care, and provide greater comfort to the many patients who visit the hospital.
But Tambacounda Hospital’s needs go far beyond supplies. It has difficulties in attracting enough qualified staff, because its salaries are not as high as hospitals in other regions, and its wards are often overcrowded. To help alleviate this problem, we are embarking upon an expansion and redesign of the maternity and pediatric wards with architect Manuel Herz, in close collaboration with Dr. Sylla and other staff. Undoubtedly, we will be sending more supplies to outfit those new wards when the time comes.
In the meantime, we remain grateful to Project C.U.R.E., and to our partners at Tambacounda Hospital, for all their hard work to make this shipment possible.
Summer Camp for Underprivileged Youth
Jul 26, 2017
In partnership with the Tambacounda Cultural Center, Le Korsa and Thread helped initiate a summer arts camp for handicapped and orphaned children in the region of Tambacounda, which ran from July 7-27.
The camp, which was staffed by local artists and performers, offered the students classes in painting, sculpture, ballet, and the transformation of gourds into musical instruments or bowls. The children also visited and stayed overnight at Thread, giving them a chance to learn about the art and community programs there, as well as to visit the banana growing region and learn more about the local agricultural economy.
Sinthian’s first honey harvest
Jul 17, 2017
Brian Harris, Le Korsa’s Director of Programming and Special Projects, just sent this report on the first honey to be harvested by the men’s apiculture group in Sinthian.
“Last week at Thread we received Kebby, our beekeeping guru from the Gambia. One year ago we were trained at their facility in Kombo – southeast of Banjul. Our novice beekeeping team at Thread had many questions on how to proceed and were delighted to have Kebby follow-up with us on site.
Great news: we harvested from 2 rushes and comfortably extracted the honey from the combs in our new transformation hut (situated in-between Thread and the rushes). Kebby tested the purity of the honey (with a special instrument that measures water content) and we found that the honey is the highest grade in West Africa (15% water content). It’s a clear, light-yellow color. You can taste floral accents within the rich sweetness of the honey. Kebby told us that this honey can be stored indefinitely and will fetch the highest price on the local and international markets. Similarly, the wax is an ideal color and consistency and can be used to make soap, candles or skin products.
We learned a lot from the visit – how to reorganize the rushes, equipment and the group’s work schedule. Maintenance of hives was stressed (preventing further black beetle attack). Kebby left us with a long to-do list and instructions on how to optimize our honey production and support the bee population in our area.
Looking forward, there is an exciting opportunity to involve the women’s group in the processing of bee’s wax into soap and other products. Furthermore, as the hives develop, we will see increased production of honey and can naturally increase the number of rushes.”
Alan Riding interviews Dr. Magueye Ba
Jul 13, 2017
At the suggestion of one of his professors at medical school in Dakar, Dr. Ba moved 300 miles south-east to Sinthian in 2005 to take charge of the village’s health clinic. Since then, he has emerged as an important community leader, not only helping to establish a medical center and primary school in another village, Fass, but also serving as a crucial interlocutor for Le Korsa.
– Alan Riding
Q – What were the main difficulties you found when you first arrived in Sinthian?
A – Most villagers did not know about medical treatment. If a child had a seizure, he’d be taken to the marabout (imam) or to a charlatan. At that time, we received only 180 to 200 patients per month; now we receive over 1,000 every month. For example, woman now routinely come to the hospital to give birth.
Q – What are the most frequent ailments?
A – Malaria is the main reason people come to the center. This is a problem all year round, but worst during the rainy season. The most vulnerable are children under five. If parents are slow to bring them for treatment, they can die.
Q – What about malnutrition?
A – Yes, it’s also a problem, but La Korsa’s new women’s gardening program (in Sinthian and three other villages) is helping. Traditionally, people only produced cereals. Now, with vegetables and fruit, I’m seeing improvements in the nutrition of the under-five’s.
Q – Do you offer family planning?
A – Yes. Ten years ago, women didn’t know about that and there were a lot of unwanted pregnancies. Now it is often the husband who brings his wife to seek help in family planning.
Q – Do patients pay?
A – Many belong to a health insurance agency. If they cannot afford medical attention, Le Korsa helps them. Le Korsa has also donated ambulances to Sinthian and Fass.
Q – Talking of Fass, the village south of the Gambia River, was there resistance to girls and boys studying together in the village’s first primary school, which Le Korsa is now building? (It should open in early 2018.)
A – No. The religious leaders were more worried that the school could threaten their religion (Islam). But we assured the marabout that Le Korsa is not a religious organization. Normally a community school takes in children of between five and seven, but this will include older children, from ten to twelve, because they have never been to school. Some 200 children have been inscribed to enter the school.
Progress in Fass
Jun 20, 2017
Jordan MacTavish, an architect with Toshiko Mori’s office, is overseeing the design and construction of the first-ever school in Fass, which is being funded by Le Korsa supporters Laurel Hixon and Michael Keane. Jordan was recently on-site to supervise the project, and we are pleased to report that the school will be ready for students in the fall of 2018, transforming forever the life of this rural village. Thanks to Brian Harris for the great photos.
Good news from Wassadou
May 17, 2017
When French NGO Première Urgence took over the administration of the languishing Wassadou Medical Center in 2014, the center’s staff worked tirelessly to restore the clinic to its full capacity of providing medical services to upwards of 10,000 patients per year.
Having seen their results—and that the center could still be improved and provide more care—we partnered with Première Urgence in 2016, offering a grant that allowed the center to restore staff salaries to their pre-2014 levels, and to make general repairs to the building. We also worked with our partner Project C.U.R.E. to ship a container of needed medical supplies to the center.
Wassadou’s 2016 report has just come in, and we’re thrilled that last year, their staff was able to see almost 500 more patients than in 2015, bringing the total number of patients seen in 2016 to 13,184. The doctors, midwives and nurses also expanded their mobile medical teams, and have been offering more education on family planning, AIDS, and malaria prevention. We salute all of the staff there, and look forward to working with them, and with Première Urgence, to offer even more care in the years to come.
Le Korsa helps launch Tambacounda lunch program
May 09, 2017
Friday, May 5, was a special day in the city of Tambacounda, as it marked the official launch of a high school lunch program developed by Le Korsa in partnership with the local government.
In March, Tambacounda’s Governor and its school superintendent notified us that there were food shortages in the local schools, which were having a deleterious effect on students’ attendance and academic performance. With the Governor’s support, Le Korsa has contracted a local agricultural collective to provide daily lunches to Tambacounda’s approximately 1400 high school students between now and the end of the academic year in mid-June, ensuring that the students are well-nourished during their exam period. The daily meals consist of rice, protein and vegetables.
Over the summer, we will be working closely with the Governor and the schools superintendent to develop a sustainable long term plan for a school lunch program.
Alan Riding’s interview with Maimouna Ka Sow, Director of Foyer de Jeunes Femmes
May 02, 2017
Ms. Ka has been the director of the Foyer de Jeunes Femmes in Tambacounda since 2016. As such, she is in charge of the welfare of 74 girls and young women between the ages of 12 and 22 who have come from surrounding villages to Tambacounda to attend secondary school. They live in a leafy compound in dormitories, each with twelve beds. They also have study areas and a library.
Q – What brings the girls to Tambacounda?
A – They all have the ambition of continuing to study. In the villages, they are often under pressure to get married and have children very early on, but these are very determined girls. Some of them were to be given away in marriage at the age of twelve but they refused because they wanted to study.
Q – Why is the Foyer necessary?
A – It offers them security becomes they are very vulnerable. Sometimes when they are sent to stay with relatives here, they are treated as maids or suffer sexual abuse or get pregnant. Here, the first course I give them is on reproduction, on health and sexuality, on the dangers of AIDS and STDs, on being responsible. This has been very useful. Some have boyfriends, but none has become pregnant while I’ve been here.
Q – What about female genital mutilation?
A – We talk about it but it’s often too late because it happens at the age of seven or eight. But many of the girls want to prevent it happening to their younger sisters.
Q – How are the students at the Foyer chosen?
A – They cannot come from Tambacounda itself. They must come from the villages. Then their parents must ask for a place and bring a birth certificate and proof she is a student. She must also have been accepted by a secondary school.
Q – Do they have similar backgrounds?
A – No. We have girls who speak four different languages apart from French. There are also Muslim and Christian girls and I mix them up in the dormitories. In fact, the majority are Christian.
Q – How come since this is an overwhelmingly Muslim region?
A – Because Christian communities near the Gambia River were the first to ask Catholic sisters for help in educating their girls. Traditionally, Christians believe more in education while Muslim families were ready to give away their daughters for marriage. But this is changing. Some Muslim mothers who only had primary education now want their daughters to have the chance to study that they missed.
Q – What are their prospects after they leave secondary school?
A – Last year, eight young women left for university in Dakar. Others undergo training courses here. That’s why some of them are as old as 22.
More health care for more women in Dakar
Apr 27, 2017
Today, we honor one of our heroes, Dr. Juliette Faye. She is director of Keur Djiguene Yi, the Women’s Center of Dakar, where she offers complete—and free!—prenatal and reproductive health care to women.
Dr. Faye recently informed us that, thanks to last year’s fundraising efforts, she has now hired a pediatrician to care for the many children who accompany their mothers to the center. And, she is seeing twice as many patients at Keur Djiguene Yi this year than she was last year, a clear indication that the word is out about the excellent health care she provides. That means more low-income women in Dakar are being seen by a trained gynecologist rather than just a nurse or a midwife, and more are having the four prenatal examinations recommended by the World Health Organization. This is crucial in Senegal, where only 50% of women see a doctor more than once during their pregnancy.
If the pace keeps up as predicted, Dr. Faye and Le Korsa hope to soon hire another female gynecologist, which encourages more women to visit the center. As always, your help is appreciated, so please consider making a donation.
Fass School under construction
Apr 13, 2017
We’re excited to report that construction on the school in Fass—the first ever in this poor and isolated village where illiteracy is nearly total—is well underway. Once completed, it will offer the children of Fass the opportunity to study reading, writing, math, and agriculture, and to continue their education in the Senegalese national system.
Sinthian’s artisans come together
Apr 05, 2017
In the village of Sinthian are potters, woodworkers, metal workers, furniture makers, seamstresses and more. All of them make goods for personal use and sale, but few come together in a central place to exchange ideas and exhibit their wares to one another. That changed last week, when two artists-in-residence at Thread, Folasade Adeoso and Sasha Payton, helped to organize a crafts fair for the village.
“The goal was to support cottage industry by promoting local crafts and connecting the various creators,” said Brian Harris, Le Korsa’s Director of Programming and Special Projects. Held onsite at Thread, the fair drew a sizable crowd, many of whom walked away with newly purchased axes, shawls, chairs, and flower pots.
More important than the sales, though, was the new sense of community felt by Sinthian’s artisans. As Brian said, “The message to the craftsmen and craftswomen was clear — this work has value, variation of products is beneficial, and you can work together with one another to get goods to market. To the youth, numbered around 50, the message was direct — to pay attention to the skills that exist here locally and to take part.”
“The gardening program …”
Mar 06, 2017
“The gardening program has united the Sinthian population. Before it, we didn’t work together the way we do now.”
-Jaba Sissoko, 79, potter and member of the Sinthian Womens’ Agricultural Collective
Better beds and supplies arrive at Fann Hospital
Feb 06, 2017
Robbie Smith, Le Korsa’s Director of Agriculture, has also been overseeing an amazing donation of medical supplies from Bon Secours Hospital in Cork, Ireland to Fann Hospital in Dakar. The donated materials — which include basics such as alcohol and surgical masks to more sophisticated equipment, such as thermoconductor mattresses that prevent the spread of bacteria — recently arrived to Fann, where Dr. Seydou Badiane is already putting them to use. Robbie visited with Dr. Badiane yesterday to ensure everything was in order and to drop off even more supplies, and he sent back these great photos:
We do not come first.
Jan 26, 2017
We are patriotic Americans who run two non-profit organizations based on the premise that all people, everywhere, have equal rights to the benefits of earthly life. We deplore nationalism, racism, and sexism. The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation does its best to make the glories of great art available to everyone, everywhere. The Alberses—refugees from Nazi Germany for whom the US was a haven—revealed the wonders of color, textiles, and artistic process so that they could be enjoyed all over the planet. Le Korsa—our organization in Senegal—provides medical care, education, nutrition, and cultural enrichment to our African friends in some of the poorest and most isolated regions of the world, where living conditions are arduous. Our Women’s Health Center in Dakar enables a large female population to have whatever care they desire. We are currently building a school, graced by the local Marabout, in a Muslim village on the far side of the Gambia River where there has never before been a school of any sort; it will teach boys and girls together, as the villagers have requested, and enable them to advance in splendid new ways.
To us, being American means not putting ourselves first, but using the privileges we have to serve our fellow human beings by making their needs our priority. We work to serve our extraordinary colleagues—in museums from Oslo to Lima, in the hospitals and villages of West Africa—because everyone comes first.
The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation (albersfoundation.org)
Jan 05, 2017
All of us at Le Korsa send our deepest and most profound thanks to our supporters, who helped to make our 2016 end-of-year fundraising campaign a success. We wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for you—thank you. We look forward to a productive 2017, and will soon be updating you on our new initiatives.
Portraits by the young artists of Tambacounda
Dec 05, 2016
One of the hallmarks of Thread’s mission is, as Josef Albers stated, “to open eyes.” The artists who come to stay at the center never fail to amaze us with how they engage the community, whether it be through direct collaboration, such as Elise Eerearts’ ceramics project, or by offering a class, such as current artist-in-residence Dana Lynn Louis’s portrait drawing workshop.
Dana, who has for many years been involved in the Ko-Falen cultural center in Bamako, Mali, is no stranger to working with large groups. She took advantage of that expertise by inviting students from Sinthian and the surrounding villages, including Dialico, Koar, Nguene and Saal, to focus on drawing portraits of one another. She also challenged the students with a Surrealist-inspired “exquisite corpse” style exercise, in which the students drew both humans and animals, and looked for ways to seamlessly meld the two creatures — i.e. attach a goat’s head to a man’s body.
The workshops, which are part of Thread’s ongoing cultural programming, will continue in different forms during Dana’s residence, which ends December 16.
Textbooks arrive at Thread
Nov 22, 2016
Improving education in Senegal remains one of Le Korsa’s paramount goals, especially in the rural areas of Tambacounda, where the literacy rate remains lower than the national average of 57%.
We recently funded the purchasing of new textbooks and academic supplies for the primary schools of Sinthian, Koar, Saal and Ngene, and the secondary school in Dialico. When the supplies arrived to Thread this week, all of the villages’ teachers came to the center to sort them and take them back to their respective schools.
Although the school year is already underway, these new books will allow the teachers to expand their lessons, and ensure that each student has his or her own materials.
Fass gardening program about to launch
Nov 07, 2016
We are excited to announce that the women’s GIE of Fass will start to garden this week. Thanks to World Connect, who offered the women a grant for the project, we have dug a well and installed a solar pump and fencing at the site in Fass, so the infrastructure for a successful agricultural program is all in place.
The women have been learning proper agricultural techniques, including soil preparation and planting, from Abib over the past few months. In the coming weeks they will be putting that knowledge into practice by putting seeds into the ground.
We couldn’t be more thrilled than to be starting this project with the women of Fass, for whom this garden will be an important source of food and income. Bravo!
Go Doc Go, back in Senegal
Oct 26, 2016
For the second time this year, Dr. Maggie Carpenter and her team from Go Doc Go came to Senegal to conduct trainings on cervical cancer screening and lesion removal. The sessions allow healthcare providers in Senegal to learn new techniques and to comfortably incorporate them into their own practices. Go Doc Go donates all of the necessary equipment to the providers, and conducts all of the screenings for free. It is a fantastic program, and we were again thrilled to be working with Go Doc Go to improve women’s health in Senegal.
On October 10 and 11 in Dakar, Dr. Carpenter was joined by Dr. Juliette Faye, and together they trained four doctors and fifteen midwives, and screened over 100 women. The team next went to the regional hospital of Kolda, where they trained thirty healthcare providers — doctors, nurses and midwives — and screened over 175 women.
We are so grateful to Dr. Carpenter and her team, and we look forward to future collaborations.