Monday, August 22, 2011

The Stolen Children of Guinea Bissau - The Journey Home begins

As I mentioned the other day I finally bought my ticket for the February trip to Guinea Bissau W Africa. I am super excited. Three of our group have now purchased tickets.  We plan to stay for about 10 days.  We'll be flying South Africa Airlines out of DC.  The flight takes about 7 1/2 hours. 

There are quite few shots required to make this trip. Immunizations can get pretty costly and most are not covered by insurance.  I've had 4 shots, given in one visit (with a cost of about $365).  I have 3 more to go plus I have to take malaria pills.

Our flight will land in Dakar Senegal.  While we're in Dakar we'll have the opportunity to vist Goree island.  Goree Island is a famous destination for people interested in the trans Atlantic slave trade (although the most important centers of slave trade were in north Senegal (Saint-Louis) and in The Gambia. From Dakar we are only a short 45 minute flight from our destination of Bissau, the capital city of Guinea Bissau.

boys building new school
Our original plan was to reach Guinea Bissau by way of the Gambia and then travel by private vehicle into Guinea Bissau. I think the 280 mile trip takes about 8 hours (if everything runs smoothly) in a questionably maintained vehicle with no gas stations, convenience stores or McDonald's on the way. And NO restrooms. So..Ok we can do this. We were never expecting any of the luxuries of home anyway but...later we reconsidered when a colleague of mine(who is from Senegal) warned us of our safety on the road there.There has been some military conflict there and ambushing of tourists. Uh, so that's OK I will fly!!

Once we get to Guinea Bissau we will be staying at the Casa Emanuel Orphanage (destination of the Little Dresses for Africa project).  I will get the chance to meet and spend time with the children.  We are planning to take some school supplies as well as some sweet treats (candy) which we hear the children love. (what kids don't).  Were going to spend 3 days in Guinea Bissau.  

Bush taxi bus stop
One of the highlights will be out trip to the bush.  We will have the good fortune to visit a Fula village called Gambasse: we will stop to visit the chief and village.

Then on to a Balanta village called Djati: where children and community are trying to build the school.  At the Balanta village they also have no well and therefore they have no clean water. The women must travel 2-3 miles to collect water.

women in Guinea Bissau carrying water
Djati school under construction
I have working on trying to get a well for the village but so far I can not find an organization that will go into the area.  We will travel about 3-4 hours by car to reach the village.  The 1st 3 hours will be on paved road but the final hour will not.  This will be a day trip as we are up for camping out there overnite.  Not that brave!!!

Djati Village school now

On another day we are devoting the day to our new friend Rashida, who lives there. We are going to visit her students at ELEC school (English Language Learning Education Centre).  This is a an opportunity for the students to hear  English - American style.  Her students are young adults and the school is in Bissau. Not sure what she has planned for us the rest of the day.

These are our plans so far. I'll update you when I know more.


Toni said...

I am super excited for you! I have some ideas for fundraising or the well, and we can talk about how feasible it is to do. I think it will be fun to plan. This will be a trip that will be so memorable...I'll be with you in spirit every mile of the trip.

devon said...

You know I'm all for ideas! Hit me LOL

Anonymous said...

I went to Senegal when I was thirteen years old, the summer of 1990.
You and I have 2/3 the same ancestry too! But mine is paternal.
I'm from "The Windy City!" My two years now, recent brother-in law is from your "Motor City!" :D