Guernsey’s Tarek Pledge and Leon Russell are going on an adventure of a lifetime to volunteer in Senegal.
The former Grammar Sixth Form Centre students answered the call of the Guernsey Overseas Aid & Development Commission for young people to work on a voluntary project with one of its partner charities – Jeunesse et Developpement. Jeunesse et Developpement is based in the Ille et Vilaine départment of France.
A partnership agreement was originally signed in 2017 between the States of Guernsey and Ille et Vilaine départment which identified a number of areas of potential co-operation including education, youth mobility and sport, as well as other matters of common interest.
This then led to the Commission itself working closely with Ille et Vilaine to identify opportunities for joint sponsorship of development aid projects in some of the poorest regions of Africa. Although this Jeunesse et Developpement project is not being funded by the Commission, a number of other small projects with several French charities have been jointly supported by Ille et Vilaine and Guernsey since 2019.
Tarek and Leon are self-funding their three week trip which will also include young volunteers from Jersey and France. Their first stop will be the city of Pikine. Here they will be working on the rehabilitation of a sports field, tree planting, renovating the homes of disabled people, and helping in an orthopaedic equipment repair shop.
They will then travel south to the remote village of Faoye where they will undertake artistic workshops for children, plant shrubs, and help renovate canoes used for fishing. Leon and Tarek will also be fishing for their own dinner!
On the trip Tarek and Leon will give a presentation to local people and the other volunteers on their Island home with materials provided by VisitGuernsey.
The founder of Jeunesse et Developpement, Tahir Thiam, visited Guernsey in April to meet with Commission representatives and Tarek and Leon to provide a full briefing on the adventure and give them a taste of life in Senegal.
Leon said: “Tarek and I are both extremely excited to be working with Jeunesse et Developpement this August. It will be a great opportunity to gain first-hand experience of a wonderful country, and to establish relations with the Senegalese people and culture.
“Personally, I am looking forward to embracing the challenges of living under far more strenuous conditions – like learning new culinary skills, I will likely have to survive without the western essentials of the Nutribullet and the spiralizer! I am also hoping to capture a stills photography collection as a documentation of sorts, with the intention of being able to then send prints back to the individuals and communities with whom we will have spent time with throughout the three weeks”.
Tarek added: “I am so excited to depart on this endeavour, and I wonder what type of person I will be when I return”.
Tahir from Jeunesse et Developpement said: “As an association based in Rennes to promote and support the commitment of young people in charity actions, we are delighted to receive young volunteers from Guernsey.
“They will have total immersion in a district of Pikine (Dakar) and in a Faoye village (Fatick), They will implement with young Senegalese and French a series of voluntary work, as well as explore historic places in Senegal. They also organize a ‘Guernsey’ evening to talk about their families, friends and Guernsey to the Senegalese.”
Deputy Chris Blin, the President of the OA&DC, said: “I am delighted that the Commission was able to facilitate this trip for Leon and Tarek. It is a joint initiative between the Ille et Vilaine department; Jeunesse et Developpement, the Bureau des Iles Anglo-Normandes, Jersey Overseas Aid, and the Commission and is a good demonstration of how partnership with all our neighbours can provide international opportunities. Young people through travel gain a new perspective and understanding of the world which can only be positive. I very much look forward to hearing of their experiences when they return, as well as continuing to build our relationships with the other partners.’
The main picture shows Tarek Pledge (left) and Leon Russell (right).