Stuart Krengel is currently on location in Casamance, Senegal, participating in the 2013 Oikocredit study tour. Throughout the week, Stuart will be blogging from the field about his experiences and the impact of Oikocredit’s work in the field. He’s joined by Oikocredit volunteers and staff from all over the world.
I thought it may be nice for you to get an idea of team that has been assembled for this trip. In total we are 16 people, and soon we will be divided into small groups of 6 to travel to different parts of the country. My group is traveling to the city of Ziguinchor today. We are currently waiting in the airport for our flight. Ziguinchor is located in the southern part of Senegal in a region called Casamance. Like most of Senegal, Casamance is primarily Muslim. Casamance also has some of the highest poverty rates in Senegal. In my next post I will be able to go more into detail about the region since I have yet to arrive.
So now back to the team of 16.
I am the only American on this trip. My Oikocredit colleagues come from the Netherlands, England, Switzerland, France, Canada, Sweden and Germany. All the individuals I am traveling with have different roles within Oikocredit. Many of the participants are volunteers for various Support Associations. Their presence is a testament to the dedication and exceptional volunteer base that Oikocredit has worldwide.
We also have two professional photographers that are currently contracting with Oikocredit. One is a photo journalist based out of Amsterdam that has been contracted to create a new print magazine for Oikocredit International. Other members consist of Oikocredit staff, investors, and board members.
Last, but of course not least, are the representatives from Oikocredit West Africa. First we have the honor of being with Ms. Mariam Dao, Oikocredit Representative for West Africa. She is joined by her colleague Ms. Aida Gueye, Regional Capacity Builder and Social Performance Management Coordinator for West Africa. And of course Mr Sambou Coly, the Country Manager for Oikocredit Senegal. These three amazing Oikocredit representatives have been planning this trip for over two years to make sure that all who travelled here would get the most out of the experience of visiting Senegal.
Sambou is going to accompany our group to Casamance. He is essential to our trip because not only does he speak French and English, he also speaks the local language of Wolof. This is important, because most of our partners speak Wolof rather than French or English.
I better get to bed. Jet lag is a real thing. Stay tuned to learn more about Oikocredit’s role in Casamance!