Written by CorpsAfrica/Senegal Volunteer Mr. Ousmane Kane
It all started on August 9, 2022, when I dropped my suitcase at CorpsAfrica/Senegal with a conscience and a behavior to perfect, a character to improve, and a personality to heal. I came to undergo a 4-week training and a personal and professional transformation. It is not easy to transform oneself in such a short period but with the national civic service, in just one week, I began to develop a great capacity for adaptation, resilience, and flexibility. Especially thanks to the module on civics, citizenship, and respect for the symbols of the nation, I now know how to be dignified, courageous, and respectful when carrying out my missions.
After a long week spent in this military service, the professionals of the Red Cross arrived in their turn. With them, I manage to provide first aid to a victim of injury, accident, or fire. Strong and hectic moments but very captivating that combine theory with practice.
It was just at the end of the PST, during the last two weeks that I started to receive solid knowledge and different tools to facilitate social, educational, economic, and cultural community development activities, in this case, the Human Centered Design Thinking and the Assets Based Community Led Development (ABCD). Indeed, 4 good weeks of training gave me the true attitude of a motivated, proactive, and able to serve in the communities. This allowed me on October 11, 2022, to be assigned as a Volunteer in the commune of Thionck Essyl in Bignona (Ziguinchor). This marks the beginning of a new mission.
Thick Essyl, my new mission, my new destination.
From the bus station of Blouf to Thionck Essyl, I enjoyed the beauty of the landscape dotted with tall trees stretching with their long branches as if they were involved in a secret interaction with the clouds. The road of Blouf better known as the loop of Blouf crosses this large part of the department of Bignona seeming to engulf these different villages: DIEGOUNE, KAGNABON, BESSIR, DIANKI, KARTIACK, THIOBON, MLOMP, THIONCK ESSY…
Thionck Essyl, a polysemous name by definition. Some say it means “sit down and prepare for your guest” while others say it means “cook while squatting”. A difference that illustrates the legendary hospitality of the Diolas.
GAFFANTA, my host district, is part of DJAGANANE (one of the 4 large districts of Thionck Essyl). Like all the other districts, GAFFANTA is crossed by a bunch of mango trees, a playground, and a market garden for women. I will never forget the warm welcome and special treatment of my host family. A family with a good reputation, the Niassy family, is easy-going and open-minded. From the very first day, my arrival spread like wildfire in the 4 main neighborhoods of Thionck Essyl: DAAGA, DJAGANANE, BATINE, and KAMANAR.
Apart from my social immersion in this rich Diola cultural framework, I realize that each neighborhood is autonomous and independent. To work, to be fed, and to blossom, each one has what it needs. After each neighborhood meeting, visits to fish farms, market gardening blocks, rice fields, and FARO (fields) are enough to support this remark. Among these visits, I remember the day when my tutor Soly Djiba took me and my partner Khady N’Diaye to BOUTHJINYEUK, a rice field buried in a depth of tall trees. We socialized with nice and down-to-earth people and went to the middle of the forest where there is beautiful nature to take pictures.
In DIALINE (a sub-district), on the day of the harvest coinciding with International Food Day, the men and women of the district mobilized to harvest an area of over 2ha. We noted the varieties Sahel 134 and Isriz. The gaiety was there. The women did their part and took care of the cooking at the same time. Tea and milk were served. They sang and danced to give themselves the courage to work. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful experience.
In BADIANKOUSSOR where Islam meets tradition. It is a pleasure to go there every Friday to fulfill my spiritual obligations. A great mosque that was blessed by Omar Foutouyou Tall after the people welcomed and honored him. They complied with his recommendations and agreed to build a mosque in a place that symbolizes the mystical dimension of their community. Based on Thionck Essyl, I feel at home. May God bless this community.