Newsletter - AVENIR PLUS
Mbour Senegal
Back to School 2009-2010

Here we go, back to school! October 5th, was the first official day of school.
In Sénégal, the first official day of school has a very different meaning than in other countries. It means, for the majority of the population, that it's time to start "looking for money" to register children for school. In certain cases, this process can last up to the end of November.
This year, Sabine has joined me benevolently. Honestly, I am not sure I would have been able to manage without her. I have asked her to put down her first thoughts and observations in writing for you.

It's been almost a month since I have joined Cathy and her team.
I have to admit that the first few days, I was a little lost, immersed in a different culture with its own dialect... at times, I found myself having difficulties getting used the locals' names, and also understanding the way Senegalese people speak.
However, the wonderful welcome and the warmth from the school's staff have enabled me to find my way and to now have a better understanding of my new environment.
This experience has been so rewarding; seeing the students' enthusiasm, supported here daily, is more than encouraging. If I had to pass a message along, this would be it: to help a child receive an education and as a result to see this child develop is essential and beneficial, and to see that child's efforts and success simply brings happiness. At the beginning of this journey, I had not thought about sponsoring a child but this happened naturally. All the children here are very aware of the luck and opportunities offered and presented to them and as a result they are very attentive of their work and behavior.
I am trying to share my enthusiasm, but I know that gifts and donations are spontaneous. I love what we have accomplished together here so far, even though I do not know most of you.
I am deeply touched by the selflessness and kindness of the people who come to us and assist us to support students whose lives have been affected by familial difficulties and economical hardships.
These people give generously, and to be in touch with such reality daily put things back into perspective!
I am happy to have decided to come here to spend a few months with Cathy; this is an experience I recommend to all of you.
Thanks to you all.


Voila, so I have not forgotten you at all, we have just been swamped.
This morning, Thursday, October 22nd, 2009, we have 419 children registered and we will probably near the 500 mark this year.
At the elementary level, registration is closed because classes are full. To this day, we have 60 sponsors. The sponsors are from France, England, Belgium, Germany and the United States. Due to the extreme generosity of a few sponsors, we have been able to have doors made for the elementary school building; this will provide students and staff alike better working conditions.
Our big project still is to collect enough funds in order to purchase land and build our own establishment. This would financially alleviate us from the exorbitant rent that crushes us every month.
To those of you who are coming to see us here, see you soon, and to the rest of you, we will be in touch again very soon via email.
As always, thank you so very much!

Cathy & Sabine.