Seeing the poverty of a place like Lambaye, Senegal could leave a visitor speechless so maybe only the words of a child can suffice. "Dad, I will never complain again," says it all. They were spoken by one of Amary Seck's students from Mamaroneck High School upon returning from the teacher's native land. But the trip 13 of his students took last February wasn't intended to simply exchange cultures and passively contemplate our good fortune.
Students for Senegal's mission is to improve the lives and education of the country's children. The starting point is Mr. Seck’s home village and
And it's never a bad thing if all those books have a home with easy access in the middle of things. "We're trying to build a library," he says.
Of course, just because this community can only connect through dirt roads doesn't mean they are oblivious to the information super highway and what its introduction could mean. S4S have taken this on also. We're trying to set up a computer lab and connect each classroom with a computer, he says.
The rest of the world will get a lot less wide too. With the web, for instance, he says, their teachers will be able to communicate with us to help in lesson planning, he says.
Fortunately, as S4S found out, this community already has a foundation that will only make their new infrastructure even more sturdy. "They don't have much but they are the happiest people," he says.
That said, if it was only school supplies that Mamaroneck arrived with then all the correspondence written and received prior to their trip would mean something was lost in translation. Raising money for soccer equipment, the transatlantic chance for a few games did not go to waste. "We definitely played," says the chemistry teacher.
But leaving it on the field was not the realization Mr. Seck felt his students came away with. "They can make life changing decisions, helping out around the world because they are in a position where they have a lot to offer and now they know it," he says.
And some went right into individual action - even if only on a small scale. "All the old clothes and toys they were dumping into their garage could be used somewhere else." he says. "They packed it up and shipped it back."
Looking larger, he hopes the initiative grows beyond Mamaroneck. "If we can get other schools involved, that's what you want because this is something you do and can see results," he concludes.
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