Two former Sixth Form Centre students will travel to Senegal for three weeks to take part in a voluntary project.
Leon Russell and Tarek Pledge answered the call of the States' Overseas Aid & Development Commission for young people to volunteer with one of its partner charities, Jeunesse et Developpement.
A partnership agreement was originally signed in 2017 between the States and Ille et Vilaine départment in Brittany which identified a number of areas of potential co-operation, including education, youth mobility and sport, as well as other matters of common interest.
Pictured: Mr Russell and Mr Pledge will spend time renovating canoes used for fishing in the remote village of Faoye.
The Commission then looked at working closely with Ille et Vilaine to identify opportunities for joint sponsorship of development aid projects in some of the poorest regions of Africa. Although this Jeunesse et Developpement project is not being funded by the Commission, a number of other small projects with several French charities have been jointly supported by Ille et Vilaine and Guernsey since 2019.
Mr Russell and Mr Pledge are self-funding their three week trip, which will also include young volunteers from Jersey and France. Their first stop will be the city of Pikine. They will be working on the rehabilitation of a sports field, tree planting, renovating the homes of disabled people, and helping in an orthopaedic equipment repair shop.
The pair will then travel south to the remote village of Faoye where they will undertake artistic workshops for children, plant shrubs, and help renovate canoes used for fishing.
Mr Russell and Mr Pledge will also give a presentation to local people and the other volunteers on their island home with materials provided by Visit Guernsey.
Mr Russell said he was “extremely excited” to volunteer.
“Working with Jeunesse et Developpement will be a great opportunity to gain first-hand experience of a wonderful country, and to establish relations with the Senegalese people and culture,” he said.
Pictured: Overseas Aid and Development Commission President, Deputy Chris Blin.
Mr Russell continued: “I am looking forward to embracing the challenges of living under far more strenuous conditions, like learning new culinary skills. I will likely have to survive without the western essentials of the nutribullet and the spiralizer. I am also hoping to capture a stills photography collection as a documentation of sorts, with the intention of being able to then send prints back to the individuals and communities with whom we will have spent time throughout the three weeks.”
Mr Pledge added: “I am so excited to depart on this endeavour, and I wonder what type of person I will be when I return.”
Jeunesse et Developpement Founder, Tahir Thiam, visited Guernsey in April to meet with Commission representatives and Mr Russell and Mr Pledge to provide a full briefing on the adventure and give them a taste of life in Senegal.
“As an association based in Rennes to promote and support the commitment of young people in charity actions, we are delighted to receive young volunteers from Guernsey,” said Mr Thiam.
“They will have total immersion in a district of Pikine (Dakar) and in a Faoye village (Fatick), They will implement with young Senegalese and French a series of voluntary works, as well as explore historic places in Senegal. They will also organise a 'Guernsey evening' to talk about their families, friends and Guernsey to the Senegalese.”
Pictured: The Republic of Senegal is in West Africa.
Overseas Aid and Development Commission President, Deputy Chris Blin, said the Commission was delighted to facilitate the trip.
“The trip is a joint initiative between the Ille et Vilaine department, Jeunesse et Developpement, the Bureau des Iles Anglo-Normandes, Jersey Overseas Aid and the Commission, and is a good demonstration of how partnerships with all our neighbours can provide international opportunities,” said Deputy Blin.
“Young people through travel gain a new perspective and understanding of the world which can only be positive. I very much look forward to hearing of their experiences when they return, as well as continuing to build our relationships with the other partners.”
Pictured top L-R: Leon Russell and Tarek Pledge.
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