On March 2016, our Project Safety Nets team participated in the Girls Empowerment Conference in Njau, Gambia, sponsored by Isatou Ceesay and her team of volunteers.They brought together members from all areas of the community and government to participate in this trailblazing movement. Many dignitaries such as, the mayor, the Imam, the ministry of health, the deputy minister of education, and the region 5 women's association president attended the full two-day conference. Isatou Cesaay selected 50 girls from two different schools in the region to attend and represent their schools. The conference stressed confidence building and positive self-esteem in young women. Another key focus was eliminating the stigma and shame around girls and menstruation. Presenters spoke about puberty, staying safe, hand washing, proper hygiene, and also about the many initiatives that the Gambian Department of Education has executed on behalf of girls being educated.The attendees were given instructions on how to properly use mosquito bed nets and hygiene kits. During the conference, the girls were given hygiene kits, which included washable pads, as well as mosquito bed nets and toiletry items, including soap, lip gloss, nail polish, combs, and candy. The hygiene kits were donated by the Days For Girls Sew-A-Thon, which was sponsored by Shiloh Temple International Ministries, Rotary Clubs of North Minneapolis, and Maple Grove.The representative from the Department of Education has declared that he will work to see this program instituted in all schools in Gambia. Moving forward, Project Safety Nets hopes to  create sustainability in this program by having the hygiene kits made at the Njau Skill Center. A special thank you to Evangeline Lavern Campbell for securing financial sponsorship for this conference.


 Through our partnership with the Japplante Women, Days for Girls: Senegal, was established with 50 young ladies. Issatou Mar coordinated and led the inauguration program along with Bissenty Gomis, the Youth Mayor. The ceremony was well attended by local dignitaries who are strong advocates for girls' empowerment and education.


The girls were selected from 10 local elementary and high schools. During the ceremony, one of the attending dignitaries shared about how when he was a teacher, a young lady started her menstrual cycle during class. This caused her so much embarrassment that she quit school forever. He also shared that having access to something like this hygiene kit could have changed the course of her life. The girls were encouraged by LaVerne Campbell to see this as a tool to eliminate barriers to success.


Following the demonstration by Issatou Mar, two girls presented to the group as they shared what they learned. The presenters stressed the importance of using proper hand washing techniques and keeping the body clean. They also impressed upon the other girls the importance of properly sanitizing the washable pads after each use. Project Safety Nets' President, Ann Dillard, also spoke with the group about the importance of eliminating the stigma around menstruation and the need to celebrate the womanhood.

At this celebration, everyone received a hearty lunch and a hygiene kit which included,

 2 pairs of panties, a washcloth, a bar of soap, 2 waterproof shields, and 8 flannel pads. The girls were also given a mosquito bed net, a small care package,that also included a comb, lip gloss, nail polish, shampoo, lotion, toothbrush, and toothpaste.

A special THANK YOU to Rotarian Judy Johnson of the Rotary Club of Maple Grove, MN for introducing me to this program and for leading so many sew-a-thons in Minnesota, from which these hygiene kits were provided.


Each year French students at local high schools in the USA are asked to correspond with students at the Citi Radio Elementary School in Senegal. This is an effort to foster authentic cultural connections globally. This has proven to be a success as students from schools in both Georgia and Minnesota have written letters to students at Cite Radio. Madame Tina Maynor, a teacher at Cite Radio Elementary School stated, "I think the thing the students loved the most about their letters was seeing the handwriting (very French!) and drawings.  It was amazing that the students had individualized responses to their letters which the students at Cité Radio had each read and thoughtfully responded to them. The exchange with Cité Radio is becoming the heart and soul of my class in surprising ways.  My students see themselves as contributors to something bigger than our classroom, and teammates in new ways that both transcend and support our academic pursuits.  I have them observe a secret partner during our collaboration time and their job is to notice what the person does to help our work for Sénégal.  The sweet things they said about students who sometimes play the role of 'bottom of the class' were a happy surprise to me in these jaded times.  A few students chose to talk about the Soccer 4 Sénégal campaign as part of their IB Oral (officially recorded and sent to IB International for score moderation!), so in a neat way our work is on an international record of sorts.  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for making this possible for us, a real connection across the globe!"


Provided school supplies and equipment for Cite Radio Elementary School allowing parents, teachers and students to not worry financially for school supplies. Also provided electricity, a security system, and renovated the bathrooms, secured funding for the construction of the administrative building, and purchased a security gate to keep the children safe from violators.

Even thought it is spring break in Senegal, almost 200 children, the entire administration and staff came out along with dignitaries to celebrate Friendship Day at Citi Radio. This was inspired by the French students at Edison High School and Northeast Middle School. These students wrote pen pal letters to children at Citi Radio, then they decided to do more. They held a fundraiser and collected enough to purchase the following: 21 soccer balls, 5 pumps, extra needles, and money to pay for the baggage to be transported to Senegal. They collected a donation do soccer shirts and socks. They were concerned about the health of their friends in Senegal and so they sent enough money to purchase Vitamins and anti-parasite medication for the entire student body of 600. They also paid for the extra baggage as to not tax Project Safety Nets financially.

During the Friendship Day, the new headmaster, as staff and community members, along with our team inoculated the students who were present with Vitamin A drops. The remaining students were inoculated when school resumed. Later, we watched the students play soccer, after which the students, staff, and community members enjoyed a hardy lunch that was provided. Madame Tina of Edison High School for trusting your students to add this fun component to Project Safety Nets.


In 2016...

The main concern of the staff at Citi Radio was for the safety of the children. They requested that Project Safety Nets help support them with building a metal gate. As a result of the generosity of our supporters, Project Safety Nets was able to donate the funds for the security gate to keep the children, teachers, and their belongings safe. We also administered anti-parasitic medication and Vitamin A to enhance their vision.

In 2017...

Headmaster Gueye reported that 100% of the students who took their promotion exams passed and were promoted to secondary school. They attributed part of the students' success to them feeling safe in their learning environment. They reported that the students were less anxious and more settled.

The most pressing need at Citi Radio in 2017 is assistance completing the building of the Administrative quarters, which was started with funds that were provided by Project Safety Nets in earlier years. There is also a need to complete a brick wall to help keep vandals off the school property. Once again, with the generosity of our supporters, we were able to help. We also provided another round of anti-parasitic medication to help keep the students healthy during the rainy season. Our donations included 100 pre-treated mosquito bed nets for families in need and used eyeglasses for the teachers. We also started conversations about what needs to be done to address the fact that so many of the students go without breakfast and lunches. What would it take to provide lunch for 650 students at least once a week? This would ensure that the children have at least one solid meal each week. We have started this important conversation.


Ms. Bolo Diallo is a nurse from Senegal who currently resides in Minnesota. Bolo and President of Project Safety Nets, Ann Dillard, met over eight years ago, which was when I learned about her experience with malaria. Twice Bolo has returned to her home village in Kanel to host a medical clinic from her mother’s house. She teaches the local women about high blood pressure and diabetes prevention, and how to perform self-breast examinations. On both occasions, Project Safety Nets have been able to purchase and deliver close to 500 mosquito bed nets for distribution to pregnant women. After the clinic, the Mayor of Kanel expressed his gratitude for Bolo’s hard work and the positive impact our collaboration has had on the residents.

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Aby is a 28-year-old young lady who wanted to become a nurse in order to offer her village better health. She was about to be married off because her family could not afford her education. She sought help from Project Safety Nets who agreed pay for her education.  For four years PSN funded her education at a private school. Upon completion, Aby passed one of the country’s highest standardized tests and received her baccalaureate award. Even with this distinction, Aby could not gain acceptance to college to study medicine because of her age. She is currently attends school for telecommunication. She actively participates in medical missions that are held at her village. Recently PSN gifted Aby with a laptop to continue her studies. 

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