here to read October 2016 Report
An Open Letter from Craig Gerard
Thanks for taking a minute to learn about our project. Our names are Ronit
& Craig Gerard, and we are raising money for a small rural village
Ronit finished her Peace Corps service in 2001, but always
knew there was more to do to help her village, Fougoulou, in the Tambacounda
region of Senegal. She brought Craig to visit in 2004, and we both saw
many ways to improve the quality of life in Fougoulou. We did some fundraisers,
but without a way to safely transfer the money, we deposited the money
in a savings account until an opportunity presented itself. Fast forward
8 years, and Ronit, now working for the US Agency for International Development
(USAID), was assigned to Senegal. This provided the unique opportunity
for us to return to Fougoulou and continue to work with her village family.
This project is in no way linked to USAID or the work
that Ronit is doing with USAID.
Being back in Senegal also provides an amazing opportunity
for us to introduce our children, Shai and Micah, to Ronit's family in
the village. Fougoulou is as much a part of the kids' vocabulary as quinoa
or the Wii (well
maybe not as much as the Wii). We've made the eight-hour
drive to Fougoulou a number of times in the past two years we've lived
in Dakar. We built a home there. Actually, we paid the villagers to build
a home. It's a thatched-roof mud hut
but it's ours - our first
Our efforts to help have taken many forms, some
successful and some not. We are trying to focus on grassroots development
for a small community. So we did a census of the village. We asked them
what they wanted. And we looked at some of the causes behind the roadblocks
which keep them from moving forward. We've come up with a three-step plan
to assist Fougoulou, but we need some help getting it done.
The end goal is to ensure that every child in the village receives a proper
education. With a proper education, they will be better equipped to take
on the many challenges they will face in their daily lives. However, in
order to attend school (and to pay attention in school), they need the
nutrients that contribute to their cognitive, physical and mental development.
But in order to get the most out of the food they are eating, they need
to be healthy. And this was one of the biggest problems we saw in our
research: people in the village are often sick, meaning they don't have
energy to farm and grow food; the food that they eat goes right through
them without absorbing all the nutrients; and if it gets bad, they need
to make a trip to the doctor to get costly medicine, which takes away
from money that could be spent on food. In order to break this vicious
cycle and give them a little help up, we've come up with the following
three step plan.
Thanks for your time and continued support!!!
Craig, Ronit, Shai & Micah
Step One - Hygiene:
There are some very basic steps they can take to improve their hygiene.
In our census, we found that for 516 people, there were a total of 16
toilets in the village. There are 39 compounds within the village, and
they should each have their own functioning toilet. There are lots of
studies proving the benefits of toilet use, but if you'd like a good example,
here. We are providing the materials (cement and rebar) and each compound
will then be responsible for digging the hole and building their own toilet.
Once they use the toilet, the should clean their hands,
and on our last trip down to Fougoulou we built a Tippy Tap hand washing
station using all materials you can easily find in or around the village.
We taught villagers how to build these, and we're hoping on our next trip
down to see these hand washing stations throughout the village.
Step Two - Nutrition:
Day in and day out, the people of Fougoulou eat a very similar diet. Rice,
oil, pounded corn, peanuts, occasionally a scrawny chicken
few vegetables. And yet the climate is well suited for year-round gardening.
Unfortunately, the village's free roaming goats and other pests frequently
get into the garden plots and destroy the plants and eat the produce.
A lack of a nearby water source becomes another issue. To combat both
of these, we built a fenced in community garden with its own dedicated
well. Each compound will be given a small plot in which they can garden
and grown vegetables, which will increase the vitamin intake, thus giving
adults more energy for farming other crops and the kids more sustained
energy for learning in school.
Step Three - Education:
Fourteen years ago, the government of Senegal built a two-room schoolhouse
in Fougoulou. In the past 14 years, the desks, blackboard, and chairs
have been worn down to the point of disrepair. Our goal is to get the
school back up to a functioning level. This means new desks and tables,
new teaching materials and a dedicated toilet for the school (currently,
if a student has to go, they either go behind the school out in the open
or have to go all the way back to their own compound). How extensive the
work on the school is depends on how much assistance we get from you.
We are already moving forward with this three-step
plan, but we can do more with your help. Our goal is to raise $5,000
as soon as possible.
What will that $5000, cover?
Good question, I'm glad you asked.
* Remaining supplies for toilets
* Repairing the school's foundation
* New chairs and desks
* Paint for the school (inside and out)
* Fence for the school yard
* Dedicated toilet for the school
* School Supplies
* Labor and materials
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