A Celebration of Change
What better way to celebrate the completion of a 12-month shelter project than a community ceremony!? In Senegal last month, our team was able to come together with stakeholders and community members to reflect on our Bureau of Population Migration and Refugees (BPRM) funded Returnee Reintegration program that began in September, 2017. Unlike many other rainy days this season, the weather was dry, bringing over 400 people from the community out to the ceremony. Television and radio stations were also in attendance.
The ceremony began with prayers by the Priest of Boutoupa Pierre Gomis who is also a beneficiary of the project, and was followed by speeches from the Chief of Village of Niadhiou, who represents all the chiefs of village; the Mayor of Boutoupa; representatives of beneficiaries and displaced populations; and SFL staff. Deep gratitude towards the U.S. government and SFL was a clear theme throughout all of the speeches.
Thanks to the work of our team, 250 families have been assisted to build a basic home with a tin roof and provided better access to clean water through construction of community wells. In addition, the location of these shelters have improved families’ access to healthcare and education, as well as provided better opportunities for work.
Many communities reported increases in community cohesion, security and peacebuilding. The increased safety in the region has since encouraged many additional families to return to their land, and in turn, our team will be partnering with BPRM again in 2019 to assist a further 257 families rebuild their homes.
It is clear that the work of SFL has had a profound impact on the lives of communities in the Casamance region of Senegal, and for that, we ourselves are grateful.