As we have been telling you, one of the pillars of this project is the participatory process with the community, both in construction and in the management and implementation of the Centre. We are defining together with Hahatay the best way to put in practice this process, nothing simple since it depends on various factors of the local context and requires time to mature. We identified three lines of action: constructive workshops with the youth, debate sessions with the different collectives, and community joint action days where the idea is gathering with the community and working all together.
On Saturday, we organised the first day of work with the community, the first ¨joint action¨. These actions are intended to both disseminate the Centre and promote the community involvement. While the building raises, inviting them to participate in the construction and meeting them all. The intention is that everyone feels that their contribution is welcome and necessary, at the same time that they get to know how things are developing.
The moment in which we decided to launch the first joint action, we did not know what to expect: Mamadou explained that here you never know if only 5 people will come or 500… So we had to be prepared! But anyway, we started planning it…
We asked several groups of women to prepare the food and drinks: begnes (a very tasty kind of muffin that sometimes is prepared with corn), fatayas (similar to meat pastry) and a refreshing bissap (a drink made out of the hibiscus flower that is served very cold and with lots of sugar). We organized several work activities, a tent (no one can stand the heat of the sun all over the morning!), and also a good music equipment… We also have a good Dj in the family, our brother Assane, so the dance was guaranteed!
And people started arriving, boys and girls, children of different ages, women, lots of women, young people, older… The participation was great even though there were several events taking place in town in same day. The time after the Korite (as it is after the Tabaski, the party of the lamb and the largest one held here) is the moment for baptisms, weddings and other celebrations since they take advantage of the fact that everyone has returned home to enjoy the celebrations with the family.
As everyone was arriving, they all put hands to work in one of the several activities planned: some used shovels and buckets to clean the land of cactus and others local plants, while some filled buckets with clay to prepare the mortar, others prepared it, the team kept raising walls, some women were handing out bissap and, of course, others dancing and smiling non stop.
And the most special time of the morning arrived: Mamadou took the microphone to thank the whole community for sharing the experience with us and to explain in details what is being built and why. And after this intervention, he announced that it was the time to get our hands dirty and cover the walls with mortar which was made out of clay, sand, a bit of cement, straw, and the key ingredient: the sika (which is waterproofing). It was one of those moments that none of us will ever delete from our memories. Everybody working together with a common goal, cover the wall that will host a part of the cultural centre that we all hope to see built very soon.
After cleaning our hands (the clothes will surely be a different matter…) we distributed food and kept enjoying the good morning until the time to go home arrived. We have cool videos that we will show you soon!
We have thought about organizing at least another joint action before we leave so see you soon!