CREATE!’s New Executive Director, Michael Carson (second from right), recently visited Senegal to meet the team and visit CREATE!‘s partner communities. In this week’s blog post, Michael reflects on his first impressions of Senegal NGO CREATE!’s programs and returning to a country he previously called home:
Returning to Senegal
“Previously from 1998-2003, I served as Africare’s Country Director. I led a development program that managed agriculture, income generation, water and health activities in four regions of Senegal. After a long absence I returned to Senegal in 2017 as the Trees for the Future Program Director. I spent time overseeing agroforestry projects in central and southeastern Senegal. On January 22, 2019 I embarked on my third and most exciting chapter in Senegal as CREATE!‘s Executive Director.
Beginning A New Chapter with Senegal NGO CREATE!
The first words that crossed my mind when I visited CREATE!‘s partner villages were perseverance, ingenuity and commitment. Our technicians work to empower rural communities through sustainable projects such as well rehabilitation, year-round community gardens and village level saving and credit groups. Oftentimes these women are working under extreme temperatures that exceed 105F with very little rainfall. However, they are very committed to building self-sufficient futures as they devote time and labor to their agriculture and income generating activities while caring for their families.
I was very impressed with the simplicity and ingenuity of our solar-powered water wells. Our renewable technology, which does not require diesel fuel or direct current electricity, saves communities thousands of dollars in fuel expenses. CREATE!’s solar-powered water wells provide an annual water source for household use and community garden irrigation. These gardens are providing a year-round source of nutritious vegetables for women and their families!
Meeting the Senegal Team
I am inspired by the commitment of our Senegal staff, many of whom have relocated from Dakar, Senegalese capital to Gossas, a small-town 120 miles from Dakar. I am particularly impressed by our technicians who travel daily to work with women’s groups directly in their villages. Our Country Director, Omar Seck, and our staff reside in Gossas and visit communities regularly.
CREATE!’s Vision for the Future
Our vision for the next few years is to more effectively measure the nutritional, health and economic impact of our agriculture and income generation activities on women that we collaborate with and their families. We hope to expand our program into more Senegalese and other West African villages, and to partner more effectively with donor agencies and NGOs working in Senegal and neighboring countries.
Personally, it is exciting and a great honor to embark on my third Senegal chapter with our CREATE! board, staff and supporters. I look forward to many more exciting visits to Senegal and interaction with Senegalese women and our partners.”
To our CREATE! supporters, I would like to share a Wolof proverb with you, Nit nitay garabam. This means that “people are a person’s medicine”. In Senegal, creating community and taking care of your neighbors is simply ingrained in the culture. At CREATE!, we are so grateful to have a community of people like you who support us and believe in our mission to empower communities in rural Senegal. Thank you, jerejef, merci for your ongoing support and belief in our mission!