Newsletter - AVENIR PLUS
Mbour Senegal
August 2010

This time a newsletter with few pictures, as I was recently the victim of a break-in; and my camera and computer (which I used for the school) were taken.
Throughout the 2nd year, we received outside help from numerous volunteers. A big thanks to those that came to visit-giving us their time and ideas. Edwige and Dominique, two local residents, contacted us a few weeks apart (respectively) to join our team. Sandra also came from a bit further (Belgium) to help us for a month.
Here's what they had to say...

"Congratulations Cathy, on a job well done; your time and effort areinvaluable. It certainly isn't easy doing what you do. Thankfully your team is focused and motivated, and full of faith. The month I spent with you all was a very unique experience. Thank you all for having greeted me with such courtesy and hospitality, I hope to see you soon."

Yveline, who is now working full time in the highschool, also joined our team last semester:

The end of the academic year here, like everywhere else, brought on the fears of failing, the joys of passing and the apprehension that precedes exams. What changed, however, were the means which have improved (little by little) thanks to our generous friends. In short while there were still difficult moments, these were overshadowed by lots of hope and realizations. The biggest of these being the joy inspired from hearing "Frère Jacques" sung in Wolof, near the sea, in front of some thirty "little crabs" as the academic year came to an end for kindergarten.
And we must already begin to think about the start of the 2010 school year...

Sandra (Juin 2010):

I had the opportunity to spend the last month of the schoolyear in the 2nd grade section with Mr Diawara.
I was mostly in charge of the reading exercises as well as "recitation". Some students already read very well.
I have tried to teach them the correct pronunciation of the sounds "j", "ch" and "s", which do not exist in their mother tongue. They all tried very hard and we had some fun times while doing it
. It was easy and quick to get integrated in the team, thanks to the children who are adorable and eager to learn, anad to the teachers and Cathy, the headmaster, whom the children call "Auntie Cathy", because she is the one who takes care of them when they're hurt or are upset by something.
It was a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone. Thank you for welcoming me and good luck!

Dominique (Juin 2010):

I just spent two weeks and ended the school year at Avenir Plus in M'Bour and I really am glad I did it. The last two weeks before the summer vacations, working with the 6th grade in preparation to the year-end exam, I was struck by the devotion with which everyone around contributes to the effort with such little means. I advice anyone with time to spare to come and work with those wonderful children.
As far as I am concerned, I already know that I'll be back when the school re-opens for the next schoolyear.
Congratulations Cathy for all you do to improve those childrens's future.

The many volunteers provided us with a new perspective, which allowed us to "fix" some of our habits. As a result, the administration has decided to opt for a continuous day as opposed the original two part days (with a recess).
The children have had many problems with remaining attentive throughout the day, for a number of reasons:
- For the majority of them, there is no one to send them to bed at night. As a result normal sleep patterns are never established.
- For the majority of them, breakfast (arguably the most important meals of the day) is skipped-usually due to poor financial situations.
- The majority of children who go home for lunch usually return 30 min. to 1 hour late, as a result of meals not being prepared. Those who aren't late fall asleep, due to digestion, on their tables.

Therefore, we have seen it fit to conform with the majority of private schools in the area, and reformat our day-to-day schedule. This will be in full effect at the beginning of next year-with school beginning at 8 am and continuing until 2 pm, with a 30 minute break in between for breakfast. The lunchroom problem was also, simultaneously, solved. Creating a food budget was no simple task as some parents would simply not pay; banking on the fact that we wouldn't not feed any of the children.

la plage la plage Once again, we brought the kindergarten classes to the beach to celebrate the end of the year. It was a huge success! Here's a picture I managed to recover.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of funds and time, the primary classes (1st through 6th) went without a class trip this year. However, this didn't affect their impatience for summer vacation to begin. The majority of the rewards distributed last year had already been "misplaced" by the time school began in October. So the top students will be rewarded at the beginning of the next academic year.

The end of the year results, for the most part, are in:
- 6th Grade - 94% passed their CFEE (Certification of Elementary Education)
- 12th Grade - 62% passed their Baccalaureat L. Unfortunately, those taking the S caused the average to fall to 49%
While the results are not at the level we hoped for, they're certainly encouraging. Our financial situation at the beginning of the school's creation forced us to take on students who didn't necessarily have the proper academic level. Nevertheless, Avenir Plus has begun to prove itself with results far above the average for public, and even private, schools in Mbour. We're hopeful that from here on out, we'll be able to have a more rigorous entrance process allowing us to take on students with the appropriate knowledge-bettering our results. Thanks to you we'll be able to continue to allow children, from economically troubled families, attend our school; the condition being that they try and do their best.
I hope I've been able to keep in contact with all those sponsoring a child. As my computer was taken, I have had some difficulty in keeping up with my emails. If I haven't managed to answer you, feel free to email me. Many of you have already renewed your sponsorship(s) for your child(ren), and we thank you! Last year, over 60 children were sponsored.

la plage la plage
In France, students in 9th and 10th grade (Collège Notre-Dame 56890 ST-AVE) partook in a charity walk for our cause. They were able to raise over 1,000 euros to help even more children attend our school. It's incredible to see students from different nations helping each other. In fact, one of their teachers (now retired) will be joining us in the beginning of next year-for 3 months.

A French club from a school in New York has also managed to raise the money to sponsor a child.