On Sunday June 12th at 4pm, the second workshop with the community started, with the objective of getting in touch with them, explain our idea and exchange experiences and impressions. The workshop was attended by Hahatay´ team, Aminata´s team, and a heterogeneous group from the community, which provides different points of view and complementary inputs: the local students association’s Chairman and other several members, the head of Pilote school (with whom Hahatay has been working for a while and that is placed next to the ground where the Center will be located), several workers in vocational training, teachers, an artist, among others

Mamadou started the meeting by explaining the reasons and objectives behind the center and then the video was projected, so that everyone could understand the holistic approach of the project. Also, we displayed the model, explaining some of the construction techniques proposed by Nerea, and her vision that everybody has the ability and the responsibility to contribute and give opinions.

Once the introduction was finished, the debate started so everyone could intervene and share their impressions. It is surprising to see how all of them raised their hands one by one. It gave us lots of energy to see such an active and enriching participation.

The first to speak was one of the Center’s workers, who is currently preparing the foundations. He started by thanking our work and reiterated his full commitment to the project. He was followed by the students association’s president, who spoke about the need to have a space to gather people and discuss new ideas. He described the project as a ¨miracle¨, since he believes that Gandiol’s students face a great disadvantage compared to other students in Senegal. Therefore, what they need is precisely a space to receive school support and to catch on with new technologies.

One of the community members, whose currently studying biogas, commented the need for a space to be able to launch related activities: whenever they have to meet, they need to ask someone for a space. Also, he is in contact with the French Institute and more than once he has borrowed books to bring them to Gandiol, but never found a proper space to keep these books so everyone can make use of them. Then, the principal from the school of Pilote intervened and highlighted the need for self-sufficiency at the Center, in matters such as energy and water. He announced his full involvement in the project and emphasized: ¨this Center is the center of Gandiol and its people¨.

One of the professors requested books with enough variety of themes, including science books, very inaccessible in Gandiol. Besides, there is a need for a cyberspace, where the population can get in contact with computers, internet and its enormous potential. The local artist, well known beyond Gandiol and Saint Louis, made a declaration of intent: to engage himself intellectual and physically with the development of the project, and added: “It is a luxury and a great need. This is ours and we have to keep it all together, devoting our time and our minds for it¨.

The rest of the participants also gave their opinion and expressed their full involvement. All and each of them began and ended their intervention by thanking Aminata, Hahatay and all the team for their dedication and willingness to change things.

There were people who could not attend the meeting, and unfortunately many women who were busy because of Ramadan. This issue was discussed at the meeting and we all agreed that it is essential to foster the active participation of women, one of the most important pillars of the society, as well as the youth, the future of the community. The meetings will be adapted during this period so there can be a greater participation of women. In parallel, we will be working with the local women’s association, which is already established and works with the commitment to improve their community.

The idea is to define a Working Group to build and develop the entire work. Reunions will happen every two weeks and several things will be defined: workshops to build parts of the Center (for example, doors and windows with recycled wood), to capacitate the community and to involve all the people from Gandiol; the Centre’s management model; and the first phase of implementation. The agenda of the next meeting and the work plan for the two weeks that follow will be established at each meeting.

The meeting ended with a prayer, a local custom that marks everyone’s desire that the entire project can develop successfully.

Within two weeks we will let you know more about how the process is advancing!

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