All of us at Neighbor Ape are thrilled to announce that the dormitory for village children, built in conjunction with the Senegalese organization OBARAR, is now open to students!
Students were able to move into the dorm late last spring, and they finished their school year there. Most of these children are Beudick, from the village of Thiobo and other nearby villages.
Several Bassari children from Djendji-Bassari (also called Petit Oubadji) also live in the OBARAR dormitory and receive funding for their room and board via Neighbor Ape.
While the dorm is functional, several buildings are in the process of being finished, including a visitor's room and an extra chaperone room so that the dorm houses both a male and female house parent.
This project stems largely from the very generous donation of Drs. Jewel Slesnick and Harold Marder, but numerous smaller contributions to Neighbor Ape made such a feat possible!
Continued funding of schoolchildren that live within the Fongoli chimpanzees' home range means that good relations are maintained in our efforts to conserve these endangered great apes in addition to the equally important goal of enabling rural children to receive the best possible education.
We plan on having a grand opening in October for the upcoming school year, and we are now going to be raising funds to complete the dispensary on site at the dormitory.
Thank you again for all your support!
Paige is GlobalGiving's Champion for Customer Bliss in our office in Washington, DC. During a trip to Senegal, she had the chance to visit some of GlobalGiving's projects. Here is her postcard from the field.
After 15 hours in a sept-place from Dakar (7-passenger peugots that are a common form of transportation in Senegal and often carry goats and chickens along with their human passengers), and a blissful night’s sleep, I woke up to meet with Dondo. He is Neighbor Ape’s team member on the ground in Kedougou, Senegal. He is one of the co-founders of OBARAR, the village association working with Neighbor Ape.
Our first stop was the the new dormitory being built! I was lucky enough to have not only the company of Dondo, but also of one of his fellow OBARAR co-founders, and a missionary who had worked in their village for 30 years. “They’re patrons now!” he told me, proud of how these young men have become leaders in their community.
It’s easy to see the improvement this dorm will bring to the kids’ education – a safe, new home away from home! The average number of years a student stays in school in Senegal is 8, meaning most children leave school before going into high school. To battle this statistic, OBARAR is building the dormitory so that students won’t need to travel back and forth daily on the miles of asphalt, dirt and bush separating their homes from their schools. This makes going to, and staying in, school much easier for these students.
They were well on their way to having the students in the dorms for the school year ended – it appeared their biggest project was getting the fence finished (which they were working on at the visit). This will also involve the community members, as they’ll help to create the bamboo-grass half of the fence, giving the parents in the community ownership over this big project.
It’s is inspiring to watch the OBARAR team get excited about the progress. “This will be a place for all students who need a place to stay in Kedougou,” he friends continues, “no matter what village they are from. If they do not have family here, they may stay here with us.”
To finish off our day, I was invited to visit the house where the kids are currently staying, a clean and nice rented home that they’re quickly outgrowing. Putting laughing smiling faces to this project, really drives home the point: these kids want to learn, and this project is allowing them to do so.
GREAT news from Kedougou, Senegal is that the Neighbor-Ape/OBARAR dormitory will be complete by April! I visited Senegal in late December/early January and was able to visit the dormitory site and get all the updates!
While the dormitory might look pretty basic, it does in fact provide more amenities than most rural Senegalese people in the region are used to. I was able to observe workers finishing the sewer system as well as begining the construction of the showers. There are already living quarters for boys and girls, and the well has been functional for some time. The quarters for the dorm chaperones are also built, and going up now is a guest house for visiting parents. After the necessities have been built, a small dispensary will also be built. The entire dorm will be surrounded by a stone and bamboo fence, and there will also be a shade shelter for sitting outside.
The students will move into the dormitory before school is let out this year! We are currently renting lodging in Kedougou, but we anticipate that the students will be able to move in within the next few weeks!
The dormitory is really an amazing opportunity to bring education to young Senegalese who would not be able to get access to the quality of education they can get in town - or even at all - before this project was realized. This is the biggest project that Neighbor Ape has tackled to date, and it would not have been possible without the kindness of donors!
This is a busy time of year for Neighbor Ape! We have several bits of pretty good news to pass along! First of all, Anna, the student we sponsor in nursing school in Dakar, has started her internship at a pharmacy. We are incredibly excited that Anna has made it so far. There were a number of times where she became somewhat discouraged given the difficulty of her program, but she stuck with it, and she is almost finished. Even better news is that she plans to leave the capitol city of Dakar and return to her home town of Kedougou, putting her skills to work here where they are really needed!
This year marks the 3rd year that we have been able to donate a year's worth of school supplies to the village of Djendji. This is the biggest village in the vicinity of the Fongoli chimpanzee group's home range, and the people of Djendji have greatly facilitated our project over the years. They are very interested in chimpanzee conservation, and elders in the village are genuinely concerned that future generations should be able to experience the beauty of the area, including the wildlife, that they have been able to experience during their lifetimes.
Our dormitory construction project should be finished very soon! Beudick children that will be attending school in Kedougou this year represent a record enrollment! As soon as the boy's quarters are finished, everyone will move from the buildings that OBARAR (a Beudick non-governmental or non-profit organization based in Kedougou, which Neighbor Ape works with on educational and healthcare projects) is renting to the new dormitory that Neighbor Ape has helped construct with the generous donation of Drs. Jewel Slesnick and Harold Marder. Additionally, Neighbor Ape will sponsor at least 2 schoolchildren here from the village of Tenkoto.
We will also be sponsoring 3 girls (Nadege, Katherine & Natalie) in grades ranging from middle school to high school in Tambacounda, a larger town between Kedougou and the capitol of Senegal, Dakar. We will continue to sponsor Alex's schooling in Kedougou, where he is still in primary school.
Neighbor Ape is extremely proud to be able to support a variety of educational projects and, of course, could not do so without your support! An education is very much valued in Senegal, and children and parents alike are very grateful to us and to our donors!
The school year is winding down in Senegal, and all of our sponsored students did great! Katherine & Natalie are going to continue high school in Tambacounda, and Allamouta has 3 years left in high school in Kedougou. Alex and Nadej are continuing elementary and middle school in Kedougou, respectively. The big news is that Anna has finished her nursing degree! We wish her the best of luck in the future and will keep you updated on her career!
The dormitory we are helping build in Kedougou in conjunction with the OBRAR organization is moving along and should be ready for the next school year. There are more Beudick children interested in attending than ever before. One of the sleeping quarters is built, and the well is functional while lavatory facilities are underway. Ultimately, there will be a boys' and a girl's sleeping quarters, sleeping quarters for the house mother or guardian, a kitchen/dining hall, and lavatory facilities in addition to a well.
In chimpanzee news, orphan Toto is doing well and well ahead of his peers in terms of size! He is adept at climbing as well as walking, though a chimp his age wouldn't be walking as much as he does. He visited "the bush" just this morning and had a wonderful time - so much so that he took a 45-minute nap after lunch.
We continue to fund eco-rangers at the sites of Angafou, Lande and Bandafassi. The mineral mining industry is currently the biggest threat to chimpanzees in Senegal both on a corporate and an artisanal scale. We are hoping to work with miners to ensure that the biodiversity of Senegal continues to thrive and to protect the relatively few chimpanzees that live in this northernmost country of the chimpanzee range.
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