Kekererssi Village (Kedougou Region, Senegal)
Just wrapped up the southern tip of our voyage in the Kedougou region. It also means a slight break from the 43C degree temperature, but let’s be honest the “break” will probably mean a drop to 38C!
Once again a very kind welcome from the community and the Peace Corps volunteers (PCV) Kelsey and Jubal. With just over 100 people in the village it was very well organized and a lovely looking place. It seemed like a hidden gem off the main path. And when I say off the main path, I mean off the main path. There were several times I really didn’t think the car was going to make it and if it were the wet season, forget it! Kelsey’s introduction to the village was walking down that same road with mud up to her knees!
With all that being said, I can see why, the PCV’s love this village. Everyone was so kind and cheerful but it was also wonderful to see the excitement in their faces when they saw Jubal coming back for a visit. He was stationed in the village for 2 years prior to Kelsey. This also made for some really interesting conversation as he could comment on the projects he had started and the ones that seemed to have disappeared.
One successful project that we saw was the routing of water from a well and pump down into a water basin located in their garden. The village was very proud to have this project completed and funded by Water Charity.
One thing that really struck me was in regards to planting trees in the village. There are so many benefits to doing this in a village such as food, shade and medicinal purposes, to name a few. As I mentioned in the last post, it is very difficult to keep vegetation alive out here because of the climate and all the animals that roam free. One thing I leant today is that the people in the village can also be added to this list.
Many of the trees and plants that Jubal planted had been casualties to field burns and to general clean up in that particular space. Both PCV’s mentioned that their village really liked a clean looking space and some of the trees were removed or burnt for this reason. You can imagine how frustrating this would be given the time and effort put into keeping them alive and knowing the long-term benefits that they could bring to the village. Jubal also mentioned that some trees have superstitions associated with them, like bringing “loneliness” to the village.
What I’m quickly learning is that any type of agricultural work comes with a multitude of complexities that all have to be taken into consideration for a successful project.
The school in itself is an interesting story. You can probably tell from the photographs that it really sticks out from the rest of the village. As it turns out, Mme Wa, the wife of the previous President was the person who provided the funding to construct and maintain the lovely school. The sad part about the story is that since her husband is no longer in power, the funding has been cut and now they struggle to maintain the building. It’s really too bad because you can tell the kids really want to be there and learn. While Demba (teacher & principle), left his class to show us around the kids were incredibly well behaved and so polite when I returned to take a few photographs.