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Monday, June 30, 2008

Saly, visas, getting down to work

Amsterdam was a nice break from things since it was about 20 degrees cooler. And there was great Indian food! Julie and I spent the rest of the week planning the workshop. We found out that Rwanda staff would be able to attend the workshop, but then there was confusion over who was processing their visas. We worked against time, but Julie found a way. She had to scan a visa letter and send it to Chrystel and Eugene (the Rwanda staff) by email for them to download/ print at the airport in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) before boarding their flight. A bit crazy but technology is just as useful as the government connections at these times and they made it – though without their luggage….

I was supposed to meet up with my friend Jessica’s Senegalese friend Laye on Saturday night and to see one of the youth that had attended a US conference in 2004 during the day, but Mie had gotten back from Benin and Togo and made plans for us to go to Saly – a resort type town about an hour and a half outside of Dakar so I postponed things till next week. Saly was gorgeous. We stayed at a really really cool hotel (Hotel Teranga) next to the beach for about $60 a night. Apparently Saly is known for older white women being able to ‘find’ young Senegalese men, but I didn’t see much of that myself. Photo: Hotel Teranga in Saly.

It took us about 3 hours to get there due to some really intense traffic, but it was worth it. We got to see a little bit of the countryside, though not much. At least some nice landscape with Baobab trees. Didn’t get out to the pool till about 3 p.m. and still got burned! Photo: baobab trees on route to Saly.

We went home on Sunday morning because Joa had to catch a flight to Ghana for some meetings that evening. (Though we later found out his flight was delayed and he had all kinds of trouble getting to Ghana and spent about 10 hours in the airport in Abidjan) because he didn’t have a visa to leave and get a hotel room. Photo: Beach at Saly.

The workshop got off to a slow start, but by around 11 the group was moving together and getting down to discussions about the project idea and where we hope to take things. We started off by giving people the little Flip cameras and having each participant film the person next to them introducing themselves and saying what their expectations were for the workshop. Photo: (left-right) Me, Bedo, Yaro, Papesidy, Anthony, Julie, Chrystel, Eugene.

Then we went onto presenting the project concept and showing the virtual visit we did in Togo so people would have an idea of what could be done in their own country. We had people from Senegal (Papesidy), Mali (Bedo and Yaro) and Rwanda (Chrystel and Eugene) and the Regional Office for Southern and East Africa (Anthony) – and some good questions and discussions. After going through the project outline, goals, results expected, budget, etc. so everyone would be on the same page, we spent the afternoon talking about the kind of attitudes necessary for the project and ways to ensure that we were creating an environment in the community that would allow for open expression and participation of the kids who are going to be involved. I’m really confident that the people involved will do a good job because everyone’s questions and input were really good and insightful.

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