Our names are Alison Rivera and Cheyenne Tessier, and we are 2013 Global Citizen Year Fellows living in Bambylor and Noflaye, two rural Senegalese villages. For the past seven months, we have been living with families, building relationships, working in our villages, and learning how to live as the Senegalese do.
About a month ago, we were confronted with an issue which has since become our passion, inspiration, and, at times, our obsession to solve.
In a meeting with our local student group, we learned quite a bit about the various ways in which people attempt to offer aid here. Foreigners come here a lot. Sometimes they leave medicine, which is typically used up in a about month or two. Sometimes they leave books and sometimes they plant trees, but a foreign organization has never left behind something sustainable for the village.
What does the village need? This village needs something useful for everyone living there; something that will remain functional after we leave; something that will help the students with their studies; something that will create jobs. This village needs a cyber cafe.
As of now, students must travel almost everyday, most of the time in the dark and on foot, to surrounding villages in order to connect to the internet and continue their studies. A cyber cafe would not only allow access to scholastic research, but it would effectively bring the world to Noflaye. It could allow people to Skype and keep in touch with loved ones in other countries. It would, furthermore, provide jobs to the educated youth of Noflaye. So, we agreed to help.
Our mission is simple: to create a self-sustainble, environmentally-friendly, and locally-run cyber café in the village of Noflaye, creating a micro-financing model to be used in rural villages around Senegal. Looking at the market and looking at the potential for change that a cyber café holds for rural villages around Senegal, we agreed that creating a model for funding, building, and running a cyber café would be the most influential project we could undertake in the short time that we are here.
We have agreed to partner with the Community Center of Bambylor in order to throw a benefit concert for the project, which has been named “Help Ndimbeul” by the locals. The president of the association liked the idea so much that he agreed to let one village, each year, use the facility to follow our model and create a cyber café.
However, it is estimated that the benefit concert will not gain the necessary funds for the creation of the cyber café and the first-year costs, and we are currently looking for project assistance in the form of monetary donations. Any support you can offer would be greatly appreciate by us and the people of Ndimbeul.