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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Social Living

Yesterday we went through who all the different groups and people with something at stake in the project are, and what they might want out of the project and how we can ensure that we meet their expectations. This included the kids, adults and communities that are participating, people in African countries who will see and discuss the art and media the kids produce, the different Plan offices, ourselves personally, youth in the ‘north’, etc. Then we talked about the concept for the 3 week training in each country with the youth and shared ideas about how to do it, coming up with an action plan for each country and a common vision for how to structure the training as well as things to consider when adapting the project and training to each country’s/communities’ individual realities.

Today we drilled deeper into what Nokia needs from us in terms of communications, reports, PR efforts, etc. and went over social media, new technology in communications and how it links with this project as well as some of the other projects that Plan is doing. For example how mobile phones can be used for call centers in cases of child abuse or disasters. This is one of the main things I’m going to be doing for this year – looking at how to incorporate more new technology and social media into our programs to increase impact and improve them.

I met up with Laye finally after work. He came to the Regal restaurant near Mie’s house to meet me, and we took a Car Rapide downtown. The Car Rapide was a new experience – a lot like the busses in El Salvador. They are smallish busses, painted all colors, and are probably all 30-40 years old. People kind of cram in and the back doors are left open for people to hop on and off. They smell like diesel smoke, but the evening was cool and with all the windows open, the ride downtown was really nice. We got down at the Poste Medina stop and walked through down town for about an hour, taking some pictures and seeing things. I’d been missing ‘social living’ as Laye calls it – something I was used to in El Salvador.

Social Living it seems is what the majority of people in Senegal do. Spend much more time outside, ride on crowded busses, and live in closer quarters. We ended up in La Escala night club. I had a beer and Laye had a Coke since he stopped drinking a few years ago when he met his spiritual guide who counsels him on life. He is Muslim, so we talked about that for awhile and what it means to him. Basically he feels that through his spiritual guide he has come to know himself and therefore he can know God. There were a lot of fairly obvious sex workers in the club, and he explained that in Dakar there are licensed and non-licensed ones and that the prices range depending on the ‘quality’. Laye said he doesn’t do the nightclub scene and that he prefers Reggae parties. He learned his excellent English by listening to Reggae music.

I took a cab home around 12.30 and we made plans to do something later in the week. It will be fun to see more of the 'real' Dakar.

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