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  • Writer's pictureAchim Becker

Episode 5: Environmental Education

What happened behind the scenes …

„Perseverance and Patience …“, this was the headline of our last blog (LINK). Three months are already gone since then and still those attributes are important for us, because the time of waiting is obviously not yet over. Long ago the virus also reached Africa and Senegal and we once more realize that we do live in a privileged situation here in Germany. Warm clean water and soap for the most important protective measures right after physical distancing are always available. That is different in Senegal. No way to think about another journey to Senegal, continuing our important conversations and negotiations, patience is still asked for. We would really love to pack our bags……

But only apparently nothing is happening. Immediately after founding our friends’ association in October 2019, we had requested and received grants from the ministry for education and culture of the Saarland from the department for ‘development cooperation’, which still had to be invested in 2019 in education projects. Besides creating the social business and creating a value chain to tackle the plastic waste, environmental education is an important component of our work, especially with the young generation. With this grant, our friends’ association Aventurin Waste e.V. could support environmental education projects in Kaffrine. What exactly happened there?

Kaffrine is a smaller city about 4 hours drive west of Dakar (it takes obviously a little longer with a Sept-Place ☺). The face of the city of KAFFRINE is like in many municipalities of Senegal not so beautiful: piles of waste, plastic bags, mountains of rubble, household refuse are the setting, despite all efforts of the commune. The project SEN-ECOKAF is situated here, which wants to sensitize the people through environmental education, what the consequences are, if waste is landing in the environment and is being wildly incinerated from time to time, which is common practice, because afterwards it is “eye clean”.

SEN-ECOKAF started a competition which was about offering to teenagers, students and teachers the possibility and a setting to develop, reflect on and discuss current topics. And the selected topic was the garbage situation in the city and the country. It was THE opportunity to convey and sensitize for the message to protect the environment, fight the ever broader spreading of plastic garbage and the possibilities of recycling.

Four schools of the Kaffrine region and universities from Dakar and Kaolak and thus 350 pupils and students participated in this environmental education project and the different events. There were knowledge quizzes and debate duels, from which eventually numerous winners were selected. At the end of the project, prizes for the following winners were awarded:

1. a master team

2. an aspiring vice master of engineering

3. the best public debater

4. the best team in scientific research

5. the best team in the message for the NATION topic: Protection of the environment

Pupils and students could experience in this project not only a strong community, but also learned and reflected on the meaning and urgent importance of environment protection. They got to know the role of SEN-ECOKAF, who is actively engaging in establishing a garbage collection system for the stepwise and final elimination of illegal landfills. They realized the connections between these illegal landfills and breeding grounds for rats and other animals, which pass lethal illnesses like malaria, diarrhea and cholera. They understood the necessity of environmental protection for the health of man and beast and the need for reduction of harmful garbage in nature.

This is reason for hope and confidence for us. Because this was our declared goal: influencing the behavior of especially the young generation in Senegal by means of environmental education. We’re very happy that the friends’ association Aventurin Waste e.V. could contribute with the help of the grant of the ministry to eventually make this important project happen! We had already requested at the end of 2019 a further grant and received the confirmation a few days ago. Which allows us to continue our work in this area.

This project result is spurring us. 350 young Senegalese have understood and do relay their knowledge to their friends, acquaintances and families, trained by the debate experience. A pyramid scheme. Becoming more and more every day. And despite COVID19 also having trapped Senegal, this knowledge is in the heads of the young people, they have understood and will contribute to the change. And we will further support and contribute to this project, because also we have understood that we must not give up prematurely.

And a lot is happening in the background. We’re networking, writing applications, bringing people together, pulling strings……

But more about this in our next blog!

Sabine and Achim

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