Week four and five are already over, time goes by very fast. We are integrating in the country more and more, even to the point that we are also complaining that it is cold outside with 25 degrees! Right now we sleep with the three of us in one room, so we are also growing closer to each other as a group. We are even becoming each others hairdressers now.
The past two weeks were filled with a lot of fun and valuable experiences. We visited a cultural festivity at the primary school called Zimba, which was very interesting and we visited the Lamin lodge, in the mangroves. The group of the Domo project joined us for four days, which was really great because we could exchange all our experiences with each other. Besides these three very intelligent students, we met so many inspiring and helpful people during these two weeks. Further, as told in the last blog, we visited the last two skill-centers and even decided on which school we are going to give the workshop.
Two weeks ago we spent three days at the second skill-center, namely: Presidential Award Skill-centre (PIA). We spent wonderful days with them and learned a lot from them. The school is totally different from the first school we visited (PGVS), but also on this school we were given a warm welcome. We interviewed the headmaster and a few teachers and students. They gave us again a new and refreshing perspective on our research subject. Next to the school being a very useful experience, we also had a lot of fun. The students braided Hibbe's hair in an African style and the tailoring teacher taught us how to make batik! We were all so happy with the results and these fabrics will always be a reminder of our time at the school.
The days after PIA we worked hard on transcribing all the interviews and write down everything we learned in the past few weeks. We already start to see a general opinion that most people share on the education matter and the problems young entrepreneurs face. Next to working hard on ourselves, we also met with the general manager of NEDI. NEDI is an organisation that also focusses on youth empowerment. He gave us a lot of useful information and contacts. Next to that he invited us to a conference festival in Basse (upriver) where almost 2000 young people from different regions gather for youth empowerment related events and cultural events. We visited the national youth council too, who organizes the event together with NEDI. We decided with them that we will join the event from the 18th of December up to the 22th of December. We are looking forward to this unique experience and are very thankful for our invitation.
After the weekend we visited INSIGHT training institute, our last skill-center that could be chosen for the workshop. This school again was a very different experience. The school wasn't only a skill-center, but also a college. We learned a lot from them on how they manage their curriculum and gather their teachers. The headmaster of the school even visited the Netherlands for two weeks to gather information! Sadly the tailoring students start in january, so they weren't there yet when we visited. Luckily we did get the chance to meet up with their tailoring teacher and business students who could give us a lot of information about entrepreneurship.
The days after our visit to Insight, we have decided to give our entrepreneurship workshop at the first school we visited; PGVS. This choice is mainly based on where we think the workshop is going to have the biggest impact. We met again with the head mistress of the school and she was very happy with the fact that we want to give our workshop here. Unfortunately, all third year students are on internships. This is why we have decided to give the workshop to the second year students, which will hopefully also greatly benefit from it. The first introduction lesson will be at the 18th of December where we will give them an assignment for the next three weeks. After the Christmas holidays we will start giving the lessons two times a week. We will have two classes of approximately 30 students each. They will have two-hour classes a day, divided in a theoretical and practical hour. We are very excited to start with them and we are working hard to finish the manual and prepare our lessons!
The next update will either be before Basse or after the christmas break in January. It will depend on the access to wifi up-river and in Senegal. We already want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year in case we can't update our blog before the holidays. We hope you will all have a wonderful time!
Lots of love,
The Mala Team