The Yoff beach clean up project on World Environment Day, on June 5th, was a huge success. Not only is the beach a lot cleaner than before – the members of Calebasse and the residents of Yoff picked up heaps of trash – the project also raised awareness and led to consideration of how important cleanliness is to health.
As a matter of fact, Yoff beach is kind of an open air dump. Everybody here knows that, but nobody actually says it: lots of people from other neighborhoods come to Yoff to dump their garbage, to the dismay of the Lébous who live here. As the women selling fish on the beach told me, their customers are fewer and farther between, because the reeking garbage drives them away. Not to mention the negative effects it has on the health of the women and children who spend their days on the beach, the sheep that eat the plastic lying around… And, of course, all that filth ends up getting into the surrounding homes, carrying diseases in with it.
Demba Tevette, the president of the Calebasse Association, who ran the operation, definitely insisted on that point and brought in the authorities because something needed to be done. But the residents are apathetic and no longer believe anything is going to be done by their elected officials, whom they accuse of neglecting them. So everyone agrees that it is the residents themselves who have to get together and bring about change. Mr. Tevette also referred to the example of Rwanda, which people consider one of the cleanest countries in Africa, in spite of its poverty. While Rwanda has no gold, diamonds, or petroleum, it is rich in human spirit and residents dedicated to their country.
Women, in particular, were invited to set an example and talk about this project, for the work to keep on going over the long term. As Henriette Forestal of the “Donner pour aider les enfants du Sénégal” (Giving to help the children of Senegal) Association quite rightly pointed out, working towards solidarity between France and Senegal, all you need is to have a few people get down to work and others will follow. Now the movement has gotten off the ground, Yoff’s residents can organize other cleaning projects themselves and, once the entire beach is cleaned up, all they’ll need to do is keep on picking it up every day to keep Yoff clean and healthy.
As Malick, a proud Lebou, told us, they refuse to let people from other neighborhoods make Yoff dirty, smoke grass and drug themselves on the beach, and throw garbage away. They won’t let their women, children and brothers have to face all that, because it’s likely to end up violently. Yoff’s residents want to show a positive image to visitors.
You can find all these comments in Wolof in this long video on YouTube.
Much of the trash was collected during that project, but Yoff beach is big and there’s still more work to do… My thanks to everyone who participated and I really hope the public will manage to get together and keep this great project going.
We would like to thank Malick Diene, from the Tagoor graphic studio, who coordinated and organized the event, and took photos and made a video of it; Demba Tevette, Chairman of the Calebasse Association; William Deymann, of the Dakarkids association, which brought the various participants together; Gana Mbengue, who sent us a video of the event; all the volunteers from the Calebasse Association, who provided the materials and participated in the clean up; Henriette Forestal, from the “Donner pour aider les enfants du Sénégal” (Giving to Help the Children of Senegal) Association; Aminata Dieng, from La Clémence school; Sadikh Dièye, Momadou Boye, Khary Ndoye, Afale Dièye, Mame Siny Thiaw, Baye Seyrou Ndiaye, Adama Diéne, Yoro Diéne, Ngalla Diéne, Ibrahima Thiaw, Ndéye Magou Diéye, Fatou Binetou Ndir, Awa Sall, Chidy Ofamba, Saba Ndir, Cheikhou Ndiaye and Sana Mbengue, as well as the residents of Yoff and all other participants…