Mai in Senegal

Senegal is a West African country bordering onto the Atlantic where the sea laps at the feet of the capital, Dakar. There is a lot to tell you about the country but what better way to spill the beans than to let the CIA tell you the facts. OK, if you want a source closer to our UK home, how about the BBC? The country is growing in status with their football team doing well in the World Cup and musicians like Youssou N'Dour becoming world stars. Described by The Lonely Plant as 'the most happening hang in West Africa', we could easily miss the point that Senegal still needs help. It has a rural population where less than half have access to adequate sanitation as well as one quarter of the children under five suffering from stunted growth due to malnutrition. Indeed, one in every ten children dies before the age of five. If you want to know the latest news from the country, check out the The Telegraph but keep in mind that many Senegalese struggle to read. Something to consider while you read on.

Mai was born in 2003 but does not attend formal education. She lives with her family in a house made of cane with a thatched roof and a cement floor. Though life is tough, they are lucky to have water piped into their house all year around and has, generally, remained healthy.

Plan International are working in Mai's area to provide help with sanitation and to improve health as many of the locals have no latrine in their home. Help is also required with education in terms of both its provision and explaining its importance and relevance to the local families. Indeed, help can be required in the basic provision of both housing and a small income for food. Our money helps to support these activities which, in turn, helps Omar, his family and friends.

Plan International has developed a large, global network of support for children. From this, they were able to introduce us to Omar. The organisation was started in 1937 by a couple of journalists shocked by the orphaned children in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. Today, the organisation operates at a number of levels in 45 developing countries. They get involved by working with governments, development partners and communities to help to improve specific facilities in deprived areas. They key point is that everyone can buy into the local projects to safeguard the future of the community and, in particular, the children. When a local family is involved in these projects, people like us get the opportunity to sponsor their children for the duration of the community project. These projects are based around five key elements that support the development of the children and, hence, the future of the community. These are health, education, livelihood, habitat and building relationships. Nobody can argue with that and Plan International does a wonderful job across many parts of the world. Pretty obviously, Mr Kite thinks that it would be great if you got involved, too. Read about sponsoring a child here.

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