Our focus this week was on the environment, health and agricultural development. Our former French teacher, Fulgence Sene, spoke to the group early in the week about the changing environment in Senegal that includes increasing desertification, pollution from phosphate production and the rising sea level. Dr. Adamson described the state of health care, the successes in Malaria eradication and the challenges that Senegal faces in confronting new problems such as chronic illness.
On Friday we traveled to Beer Sheba an experimental project begun as an attempt to regrow a natural forest from the sandy soil in West Central Senegal. Our guide was Joel Friesen who works with students from all over West Africa. They come to learn about new ways of farming that are much more friendly to the environment than previous methods. They do no tilling of the soil and use natural composts. What was an open area now has 60,000 trees. There are rich gardens and livestock that are being raised on things like peanut shells that are normally considered waste products. There are many amazing aspects of this project such as solar power for electricity, water from a well which was thought to be non-productive, and chickens and pigs roaming on mulch that has no odor!
Joel and staff provided a wonderful meal with Yassa Poulet. An added benefit for Naomi was the fact that Joel comes from Manitoba and so she found a kindred spirit at Beer Sheba. Alex and Ethan will be doing their service learning project at Beer Sheba. They were given a preview of the exciting things to come in a few weeks.