The group’s founder, Sadio Diatta Rosché, is on her way back to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau after several months in the United States where she worked promoting the group and collecting donations. Currently she is in Mozambique where she has begun teaching dance to a group of 20 teenage Mozambicans. In February she will be in Senegal and Guinea-Bissau distributing the 20 duffle bags of clothing, shoes and school supplies generously contributed by the group’s supporters. Also donated was a desktop computer that will be used to train the children in basic computing skills.
Adult literacy classes continue in Bissau, but with difficulty due to the lack of funds to provide a transportation stipend to the volunteer teachers. The group would like to establish child care facilities as many of the students are young mothers who are forced to bring their small children with them to class, but this has been put on hold until a locale can be constructed.
Construction began on a 4-room building – an office, a waiting room and 2 storage areas, with a restroom and a veranda – which could serve as an area to conduct sewing classes, computer classes and to provide child care as well as to secure the groups 5 sewing machines and computer, but lack of funding has caused the construction to be halted. Nor are funds available to contract sewing and computer instructors who would require $200 per month.
Though some of Ussoforal’s children have been fortunate enough to find sponsors through Sadio’s efforts among friends and family in the United States, many remain unable to attend school for lack of school fees or to buy the required uniforms. It is planned that when the construction is completed and a sewing instructor contracted, as well as learning sewing the children could make their own uniforms. But again, the group relies on your generosity to make this dream of the children’s come true.
Sadio has been holding the group together through her efforts teaching dance and catering to generate some capital. But the economic situation in Guinea-Bissau is still on the decline, employment opportunities are few, and there is little that the community can contribute monetarily. Many of the children suffer from malaria and ringworm, and basic medicines are beyond the financial reach of their parents. So now more than ever, your generosity isneeded.
More than reading reports on the group’s activities, seeing their work first hand is the best way to appreciate the positive impact that the group has in spite of the difficulties faced. Anyone who is willing and available to volunteer their services – to teach art or dance or computer or sewing or cooking or any other life skill to enhance the children’s lives – would be enormously appreciated. Though lodging would not be luxurious, we can guarantee your security, and we are sure that it would be an experience never forgotten. For more information regarding visa requirements, what to bring, etc., contact Tim Rosché at email@example.com.
And please, continue to help us to make the children’s dreams come true!
Since June, Ussoforal’s president and founder, Sadio Diatta Rosché, has been in the United States, working primarily through African dance venues to generate funds for Ussoforal’s activities in Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. Generous benefactors have helped amass a large volume of used but still serviceable clothing that will be shipped via freight container to Dakar next month. Other contributions include sponsorship support to cover Ussoforal’s children’s school fees.
But the bulk of the funding raised has come from Sadio’s hard work preparing and selling African food and juices through a small-scale catering operation, and through the sale of African clothes. One prime opportunity for this was at the annual 3-day African dance workshop organized by the Kankouran Dance Company in Washington, DC. where Grupo Ussoforal maintained a booth in the vendors’ hall.
Though these efforts have paid off, there is still much to be done. Back in Africa, mentoring the children and rehearsing the dances continue, as do the adult literacy courses. But the depressed economies in Senegal and Guinea-Bissau are taking their toll, as is the continued instability in Guinea-Bissau. Grupo Ussoforal depends on volunteers to support their activities, and when times are hard, the volunteers need to think about making their own ends meet. So demonstrations of solidarity through your generous support become more and more important.
Our deepest thanks to those who have helped us maintain the momentum and to continue to help make the children’s dream come true. It is most appreciated.
In April, Grupo Ussoforal celebrated the 12th anniversary of its being an officially registered non-profit humanitarian non-governmental organization in Guinea-Bissau. As has now become tradition, the event was highlighted with performances by local popular artists as well as by the group’s young members, with a large turn-out by the parents and neighbors of the Plack II suburbs of Bissau. The media was on hand to capture the festivities, and the group’s founder, Sadio Diatta Rosché, described the group’s origins and objectives in an interview that later aired not only on local television but was broadcast on Radio-Television Portugal to Portuguese-speaking countries worldwide as well.
Prior to the anniversary, 20 duffel bags of clothing and school supplies were received from the United States, as well as cash donation sponsorships to cover the school fees of some of the children. These were distributed amid great enthusiasm and appreciation in both Senegal and Guinea-Bissau – occasions for dancing and showing gratitude for those who so generously shared with those less fortunate.
Times have been difficult in Guinea-Bissau and rife with political turmoil. Insecurity and sporadic violence have driven many families to flee or to send their children back the villages. Schools have been closed in the capital. Ussoforal’s children’s dance and adult literacy activities have managed to be maintained, though with somewhat reduced attendance. Fortunately, stability is now returning to Bissau, and with it, those who left to seek safety in the rural areas.
During these troubled times in Bissau, Ussoforal is playing an important part in re-establishing a feeling of normalcy, and providing an opportunity to celebrate life and a renewed hope for the future. Your generosity is particularly crucial now for the children. Please continue to help make their dreams come true.
This year, as is the tradition since the foundation of the group, Grupo Ussoforal participated in the colorful and frenzied atmosphere of the annual Mardi Gras parade in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau. Over 200 of the group's members paraded through the streets along with dozens of other cultural and neighborhood organizations, all vying for the attention of the judges as well as the spectators that lined both sides of the streets through the entire downtown area. The media was also out in full force, and Ussoforal managed to get aired on the evening news broadcast of the local television station.
Prior to Carnaval, Sadio Diatta Rosché, the group's founder, was making her way back to Africa after a successful season of fund-raising in the United States. In addition to sponsorships collected from generous contributors in Washington DC and Boston to cover school fees for many of the group's members, Sadio also shipped back a considerable quantity of school supplies and clothing, all of which arrived in Dakar, Senegal in February. From there it will be put on a ship to Ziguinchor in the south of the country, and then on to Bissau overland for distribution among the group's families.
Meanwhile the adult literacy classes conducted by volunteer supporters of the group continue to gain popularity with the population of Plack II where Ussoforal is headquartered. Four sewing classes have also been added to the group's activities with the objective of developing the income-generation potential of the community members.
During the month of January the group also had the immense good fortune of receiving contributions from the local representation of the European Economic Community as well as a delegation from Timor visiting as part of an exchange program among countries for which Portuguese is the official language. These donations were an enormous morale boost for the group, and allowed them to procure musical equipment, a video camera, a television, 2 digital cameras and supplies for the adult literacy and sewing classes.
So though much progress is being made, your generosity is still extremely important to keep up the group's momentum and to continue to keep helping making Ussoforal’s children’s dreams come true.
After a successful fund-raising campaign in the United States, Ussoforal's founder and director, Sadio Diatta Rosche, has returned to Africa and is currently in Mozambique on her way back to Guinea-Bissau and Senegal. Upon arrival in Guinea-Bissau she will be distributing the contributions that the generous supporters in the United States have made available to the group - 15 large duffel bags of clothing and school supplies as well as numerous cash sponsorships for specific children in the group.
While Sadio has been in the United States activities have continued in Guinea-Bissau. Now 12 adult literacy classes with 15 students each remain active due to the dedication of volunteer teachers. The dance classes for children also continue. But the year has not been without challenges. While the Portuguese Cultural Center previously supported the adult literacy efforts, due to the economic downturn they no longer have a budget to do so. Though the students are making good progress, and are proud of being able now to write their names and perform other basic literacy-dependent tasks they are not in a position to contribute, so transportation stipends as well as supplies such as chalk, notebooks and a computer for the teachers are no longer available.
As for the children, adherence has diminished from 383 to around 300, the economy forcing many families to return to rural areas because they can no longer afford urban life. There are 27 new orphans in the group due to parents dying of undiagnosed causes - most likely HIV/AIDS. With the cost of living escalating and buying power weakening, there is often no money for uniforms or supplies for the children and they must stay home. Some finish high school but then have no money to continue. Previously the Ussoforal organizers would have to walk through the neighborhood encouraging children to come and participate. But now as soon as they hear the drums, they come running, knowing that there will be a good meal and a secure, caring environment. And the parents, knowing that the children are with Ussoforal, are grateful for the peace of mind.
While in Mozambique, Sadio has reunited 6 young men and 12 young women who were part of the Mozambican branch of Ussoforal when Sadio lived there 2000 to 2004. They have organized dance classes, and are passing on the dance tradition to the next generation of young African children. March 30th will be Ussoforal's 12th anniversary, and Sadio will be returning to Guinea-Bissau and Senegal soon in order to begin organizing that. You are all warmly invited to come and participate. Though times are hard in Guinea-Bissau, it is heartening to see how Grupo Ussoforal is making many kids' dreams come true, thanks to the generosity of all of you.
Our heart-felt thanks!
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English Language Correspondent
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Tanzania, United Republic of