Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dindéfélo Youth Camp

Because Camp Unalayee, the summer camp I went to in California, is such a wonderful place I'm a big fan of summer camps. I signed up to help out with the Université des Vacances, a youth camp for local middle school students run by Peace Corps and a Senegalese organization called A.D.D.K. in Dindéfélo, a village about 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) from Kédougou.
I live in Salémata & the camp was in Dindéfélo.

Here's an overview of last year's youth camp, and this lovely map is courtesy of the Dindéfélo Nature Reserve, which works with the Jane Goodall Institute/Spain and other organizations to preserve biodiversity in general and chimpanzee habitats in particular. 

There were about 70 campers this year, from all over the Region of Kédougou, and they stayed in huts for 11 nights at a local campement. Senegalese and Peace Corps counselors ran activities, games, and day hikes. I was in charge of the how-to sessions on making Neem Cream mosquito repellent and Enriched Porridges. The camp was held in French, because kids from different villages speak different languages, including Pulaar, Mandinka, Jahonke, Bassari, and Bedik. One of my host sisters from Salémata came as a camper and it was really great to have her there.

Youth Camp 2011

Making enriched nutritional porridge from affordable, locally available ingredients is a great way to teach information on basic nutrition and also turned out to be delicious. We made several different versions, using rice, millet, and corn flour for carbohydrates, ground peanuts, milk powder, and bean flour for protein, and lime juice and tamarind for flavor, extra vitamins and as acidic preservatives. Malnutrition is a widespread problem, and since every camper knew an underweight baby, an adult who had a goiter from iodine deficiency, or a kid who'd lost a lot of weight from an illness, it was useful and relevant for them. 

Cooking up Neem Cream
There were also arts and crafts activities, a great Challenge Course, a day hike to local waterfalls, campfires with skits, and lots and lots and lots of singing and dancing. On the last day they had a sort of Field Day called Les Olympiads, where teams competed in obstacle courses, relays, and three-legged races.

Les Olympiads at the Primary School
Most kids here don't get many chances to travel, even around their own regions, and they had a great time visiting Dindéfélo, meeting kids from other villages, and doing all the summer-camp-type-things that kids like to do.

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