Project YK-04 Primary school
Introduction and start
March 10, 2015
Monica de Jong is our ‘artist in residence’ since January (see that month’s blog). She started of her work by giving drawing and painting lessons to all thirteen classes and to the teachers. Non of them had ever had an art lesson before, so it was a fruitful and eye-opening experience for all. Monica slowly became a part of the school and experienced all facets of education in Senegal. At times it was strenuous and demanding, but luckily also very rewarding and mutually enriching. When Monica is gone Hans will continue to help the most motivated teachers in preparing and giving fun and affordable art lessons, with Monica’s help from a distance. This way the creative energy that has grown during her work can continue to develop and materialise.
With the series of lessons finished it was time for us to really join in and get to work on a sculpture in the schoolyard. The basic ideas were thoroughly discussed with the staff and made into several design proposals. With too many desired ideas a flexible multi-year design came up. A very long snake with its body coming out and going into the ground. Elements to relax and play are integrated into the body. We will start with the tail and see how far we can get. The snake can grow in upcoming years and maybe one day the head will pop up out of the ground too.
The most important part of the schoolyard is the shaded area under two large trees. The old concrete table tennis table hasn’t seen a ping pong ball in ages, but being the only place to sit in the shade it is always busy there. It is also next to the teachers room and the place where all staff meetings are held. The start of the snake will define and improve this central place of school life.
To build we need bricks, rubble, cement, sand and water. Every family has some bricks, home improvement is always ongoing and this is the local way to save up for this. So the children were asked to donate a brick to the project. Rubble can be collected all over the place, cleaning up the streets as side effect. The French foundation Crayon located in Yène is affiliated with the school, they gave financial support to buy one ton of cement (20 bags). The remaining sand from the construction of two new classrooms was given to our project. The school has a tap that runs sometimes, so there are jerrycans to keep filled up. Ready, set, go.
The start is slow, interesting and inspiring. Many practicalities need to be taken care of. Day by day we, the teachers and the children find better ways to work together. The children help with all possible aspects of the building process. For this to run smoothly is a task all its own. Hoards of excited children and Senegalese pedagogics adds a new twist to our commitment to involve the people in our projects. We learn a lot and have interesting discussions with the staff.
We are again supported by the dedicated work and infectious laugh of Ousseynou Bâ. His character impressed us during the project at the fish market. He is creative, patient, likes to learn and can handle criticism. Unfortunately that is a rare combination in Senegal. We pay him a normal local loan and hope to keep involving him in our work.
Enough words for now, enjoy looking at the first stage of this lively project.