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  • Writer's pictureJane Smith

NFI sponsor Koungheul/Janjanbureh pupil workshops 24th -29th July 21

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

Yet again Naturefriends International are having a profound affect on the lives of people in Senegal and The Gambia

"NFI- Landscape of the Year 2018, was such a laudable initiative and unique trail that brought together diverse people of society (Local Authorities, Youth and Women)

The trail has built inter continental relations, cross border relations and most importantly, "Climate Justice" have been the focus using responsible tourism principles" OJ

Sponsoring the following workshop indeed brought together again students from two communities

Mamadou Mbodji, Vice-President Naturefriends International has provided an interesting insight (with thanks to his images and "quotes") into a packed few days where 30 young boys and girls from Janjanbureh/The Gambia and Koungheul/Senegal accompanied by 6 supervisors, stayed in Pitit Mbao, Dakar as part of a workshop to exchange ideas and strengthen regional integration through education.

This was thanks to funding from Naturefriends OFFENBACH, WIESBADEN and FRANKFURT

The stay enabled them to discover and discuss

  • historical and ecological sites,

  • topics ranging from reforestation techniques and plant maintenance

  • the role of youth in fighting climate change,

  • the management of domestic waste

  • eco-citizenship as a remedy against insalubrity

The students during their stay


July 25th: A full first day was spent exploring sites around Dakar beginning with the

"Joy of visiting Goree Island, a place of memory for those who want to remember

and a hub of slavery during the triangular trade"MM

Goree is an island having a history as a temporary home to people from across Africa before crossing the Atlantic to be sold as slaves in America and also Europe. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, it has been a temporary colonial home to the Portuguese, the Dutch, the English and the French, before being returned to Senegalese hands in the mid-20th century.

A visit was made to The House of Slaves

The House of Slaves (Maison des Esclaves)

The House of Slaves (Maison des Esclaves) and its Door of No Return is a museum and memorial to the Atlantic slave trade opened in 1962 and curated until Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye's death in 2009. It is said to memorialise the final exit point of the slaves from Africa. Historians differ on how many African slaves were actually held in this building, but is considered an important place to remember the human toll of African slavery.

Now a pilgrimage site and a peaceful sanctuary, the Goree Memorial has been built on the island's highest point. Built in 1999 it is designed in the shape of a ship’s hull and sail

Next, a visit to the Millennium Gate where traditionally

you must pass through one gate with your right foot

La Porte du Troisième Millénaire (The Door of the Third Millennium), inauguration dated (2001) and by the Senegalese architect Pierre Goudiaby

The monument features three doors of increasing size,

  • The first gate with its straight edges represents the simplicity of the first millennium

  • The second door is more elaborate and indicative of cultural change and industialisation. The statue on the top is a woman playing a horn to symbolise unity and courage.

  • When looking back through the third door, the largest and representing the third and present Millennium, the flute playing lady is framed within it. This gate represents the era of communication, the global village and a message of hope for Africa.

The next visit was to The Monument of the African Renaissance

At 49 metres high, on top of a 100 metre hill, the African Renaissance Monument in Dakar is the tallest statue in Africa. It was completed in 2010 to mark 50 years of independence. It depicts an idealised African family, commissioned by the country's then-president, Abdoulaye Wade

Finally a visit to the most westerly point of the continent ofAfrica, the Tip of Almadies

What a very full day!


July 26 was a stay at home session on tree planting and its great importance in reforestation

"Open-air training session for the young Gambian and Senegalese on reforestation techniques: seed selection, repotting, planting and maintenance of plants" MM

"The young people then followed with great interest the themes developed

in the various workshops moderated by the managers" MM

  • Climate change and youth by Isatou Foon and Omar Jammeh

  • Citizenship and health by Mahamadou Fall and Sheikhou A K Diakhate

  • Domestic waste management by Fatou Jobe and Aliouseyni Janneh

"After discussing the negative impacts of climate change,

the group went to Petit Mbao beach to see the degradation

caused to human settlements by coastal erosion due to rising seas." MM


July 27th they traveled out of Dakar to Noflaye Tortoise Park marked with red flag

and Lake Retba, the lake north of it.

In 2001, the SOPTOM opened a “Tortoise Village” in the classified Noflaye

in the Dakar region

'This mission has a goal to protect and study the Senegalese tortoises, particularly the African spurred tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata)

This tortoise can reach up to 100 kg, and digs deep into the ground to provide itself with cooler temperatures when the weather is hot. Since 50 years, its population has been dramatically reduced. The principal dangers it faces are hunting for resale, desertification and destruction of its natural habitat, but also is menaced by surrounding herds (zebus and goats)

This French video provides some idea of their size

Then on to the Lake Retba, also known as Lac Rose- for obvious reasons!

'Lake Retba (or Lac Rose as it is known by locals) is separated only by some narrow dunes from the Atlantic Ocean and, as expected its salt content is very high. Its salinity content compares to that of the Dead Sea and during the dry season it exceeds it.

Its distinct pink colour is caused by the Dunaliella salina bacteria, which is attracted by the lake’s salt content. The bacteria produces a red pigment in order to absorb the sunlight, thus giving the lake its unique colour. Its colour is especially visible during the dry season (which lasts from November to June) and less during the rainy season (July-October).'

To find out more


July 28 stay home on session on waste management followed in the evening by beach cleaning at the Pitit Mbao beach)

"Before finishing their stay, the young Senegambian eco-citizens contributed to the cleanliness of the beach of Petit Mbao by clearing it of its rubbish. What a great action !"

And definitely allowed some fun after all that work!

"Relaxation and fun after cleaning the beach"MM

To conclude this amazing experience the students shared

their thoughts about their stay and everyone received certificates

"The last evening of the Dakar international meeting was used to draw conclusions from the stay and to discuss the future.

Two mixed feelings were perceptible: firstly, the joy of having made new friendships

and secondly, the sadness of parting after so many moments of intense sharing."MM

And a fitting tribute to the amazing support from Naturefriends International

And the following day... the day of departure

"Today, through the Land Scape of the Year the rural communities of

The Gambia and Senegal, through Koungeul Secondary School and Janjanbureh Upper Basic have built a network to foster understanding among the uprising generation" OJ

Quotes in blue: Omar Jammeh

Quotes in green: Mamadou Mbodji

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