5:00am wake ups are easier when these mountains call for you to get out of your tent. Photo by Cecelia Palmquist (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest, 1st Place), Nepal Semester.

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Where There Be Dragons

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    [post_date] => 2020-06-03 14:31:50
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    [post_content] => Dear Dragons Community,

On Monday, May 25th—Memorial Day—George Floyd was murdered under the knee of a Minnesota police officer. In a country already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, Floyd’s death compounded the pain of another open wound: the wound of American racism, an infection that has festered for 400 years. It oozes hatred and rage and violence. It blinds so many to the full, sacred humanity of Blackness.

We write to you today to fight that infection. We know that Black Lives Matter. And in the words of instructor Caleb Brooks, “we know that George mattered, that he was imbued with the life force that every poet and theologian and artist and shaman has lived and died trying to translate into the broken languages by which we express our love and also our hate.”

We write to grieve with you, and to join hands with you against the systems that killed George Floyd.

We condemn the racist policies, white supremacy, and police brutality that killed George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and innumerable others. White people and white-run organizations must actively work against the legacies of white supremacy, racism, settler colonialism, patriarchy and structural inequality upon which this country was built and that pervade the lives of Black and Brown people in the US every day.  

As an administrative team, we regret that it has taken us until now to make this statement publicly. We acknowledge that we benefit from these heinous legacies and have a responsibility to dismantle them. Our mission to build a just and equitable world requires sustained anti-racist action. We stand in solidarity with those demanding racial justice. We invite you, our community, to join us in the movement for sustainable transformation. 

Today, Dragons donated to Black Lives Matter 5280, a small organization on the front lines of the protest in Denver, near our headquarters. You can find more organizations to which our staff are donating, and more ways to get educated and involved below.

The work of liberation is hard and at times may feel impossible. But, to echo James Baldwin, “in our time, as in every time, the impossible is the least that one can demand.”

In solidarity, 

The Where There Be Dragons Administrative Team

 

RESOURCES TO GET EDUCATED AND INVOLVED

Thank you to Black-led activists who have created these resources, which we have pulled from various locations. 

READ

We encourage you to purchase your books from black-owned and African American-focused bookstores. You can find a list here
  • ain’t i a woman by bell hooks
  • Ally Resource Guide
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 
  • Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins
  • Black Lives Matter Syllabus 
  • Choke Hold by Paul Butler
  • Divided Sisters by Midge Wilson and Kathy Russell
  • Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper 
  • Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall 
  • How to be an Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
  • How We Get Free edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor 
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson 
  • Me and White Supremacy: Combat White Supremacy, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad
  • Native Son by Richard Wright 
  • POC Online Classroom  
  • Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde 
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • Stamped from the Beginning by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi 
  • The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein 
  • The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  • This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe Moraga
  • What to do Instead of Calling the Police 
  • When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Kahn-Cullors & asha bandele
  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo 
  • Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect edited by Joe Macaré, Maya Schenwar, and Alana Yu-lan Price
  • Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis 

LISTEN

WATCH

  • 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
  • American Son (Kenny Leon) — Netflix
  • BlacKKKlansman (Spike Lee) — HBO
  • Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 — Available to rent
  • Blindspotting (Carlos López Estrada) — HBO
  • Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu) — Available to rent
  • Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix
  • Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) — Available to rent
  • I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin doc) — Available to rent or on Kanopy
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu
  • Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) — Available to watch FREE for the month of June
  • King In The Wilderness  — HBO
  • Rachel Cargle’s Address on the Revolution 
  • See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol) — Netflix
  • Selma (Ava DuVernay) — Available to rent
  • Systematic Racism Explained
  • Tamika Mallory’s Speech on George Floyd Protests
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — Available to rent
  • The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr.) — Hulu with Cinemax
  • When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix

DONATE

GET INVOLVED

  • #AmplifyMelanatedVoices when sharing content
  • Click for a pre-made email draft to demand justice for Breonna Taylor
  • Click for a pre-made email draft to demand justice for George Floyd
  • Click for a pre-made email draft to demand justice for James Scurlock
  • Click for a pre-made email draft to demand justice for Tony McDade
  • CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TO VOTE
  • Get involved with your local government to end police brutality 
  • Join Local Black Lives Matter Chapters
  • Join Local allyship organizations such as SURJ

SUPPORT/FOLLOW

MORE

 
PS. WANT DRAGONS BLOG UPDATES SENT DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX? ONE EMAIL A WEEK. NOTHING MARKETY. UNSUBSCRIBE ANY TIME. SUBSCRIBE TO DRAGONS BLOG AND STAY CONNECTED TO THE COMMUNITY. ❤️
[post_title] => Solidarity + Resources For Racial Justice [post_excerpt] => We condemn the racist policies, white supremacy, and police brutality that killed George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and innumerable others. White people and white-run organizations must actively work against the legacies of white supremacy, racism, settler colonialism, patriarchy and structural inequality upon which this country was built and that pervade the lives of Black and Brown people in the US every day.   [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => solidarity-resources-for-racial-justice [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-06-09 12:59:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-06-09 18:59:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 641 [name] => About Dragons [slug] => about_dragons [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 641 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [parent] => 0 [count] => 54 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 54 [category_description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [cat_name] => About Dragons [category_nicename] => about_dragons [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/about_dragons/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 670 [name] => Recommended [slug] => recommended [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 670 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Recommended reading, watching and listening. [parent] => 0 [count] => 18 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 12 [cat_ID] => 670 [category_count] => 18 [category_description] => Recommended reading, watching and listening. [cat_name] => Recommended [category_nicename] => recommended [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/recommended/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 651 [name] => Announcements [slug] => announcements [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 651 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [parent] => 0 [count] => 62 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 15 [cat_ID] => 651 [category_count] => 62 [category_description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [cat_name] => Announcements [category_nicename] => announcements [category_parent] => 0 ) [3] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 1 [name] => Uncategorized [slug] => uncategorized [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 1 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 14 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 16 [cat_ID] => 1 [category_count] => 14 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Uncategorized [category_nicename] => uncategorized [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => About Dragons, Recommended ... )
Featured Post

Solidarity + Resources For Racial Justice

Posted on

06/03/20

Author

Dragons HQ

View post
We condemn the racist policies, white supremacy, and police brutality that killed George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and innumerable others. White people and white-run organizations must actively work against the legacies of white supremacy, racism, settler colonialism, patriarchy and structural inequality upon which this country was built and that pervade the lives of Black and Brown people in the US every day.  
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    [post_content] => Across cultures stories are told about a hero’s journey to distant lands, only to find that what they seek is where the journey began: home. 

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

T. S. Eliot, 4 Quartets


On December 28th I embarked on a personal journey, a journey that resembled my first foray into the American West after graduating from college two decades ago. Last week I hugged my family goodbye and hopped into my van. Outfitted with warm layers, sleeping bags, food, and podcasts, I headed toward the “Four Corners” region, where CO, UT, AZ, and NM meet. I had no idea how far I’d get or where I’d sleep, other than knowing I’d be in the back of my van, somewhere. For a week I meandered. I roamed Bears Ears and Cedar Mesa, their dried canyon river bottoms blanketed in snow; I sat on the edge of the Grand Canyon, confused by the deafening silence and overwhelmed by the full nighttime galaxy, unadulterated by city lights; I descended the Colorado plateau into the great Sonoran Desert, and felt its soft winter warmth. After a challenging year, reconnecting with the American West, and my twenty-year old self, was like drinking from a well after a long period of thirst. I felt a deep gratitude for my post-college journeys into these landscapes, which were closer to the surface of my consciousness than I had ever realized. For nearly three decades Dragons has taken participants on journeys to discover the world and, in the end, themselves. When the pandemic closed down the world, Dragons turned inward to North America. This fall we offered two outstanding domestic Gap experiences: the Rio Grande Semester and the Colorado River Basin Semester. Because of their success, we are excited to announce that this new programming will extend into the 2021/2022 season and will continue to  be an important core of our work.

Keep an eye out for our new 2021 domestic program announcement!

The confluence of COVID-19, a heightened awareness and reckoning of racial injustice, and vast political divide in the United States has increased the need for domestic programming and specifically for a Dragons-style education. Our domestic programs strive to understand the complexity that arises when diverse peoples inhabit a land, looking closely at settler colonialism, power and privilege, and racial, social, and environmental justice issues. We examine how people have changed landscapes, for better and worse, and how those landscapes have in turn shaped our present realities. At a time when connection is hard to come by, the Dragons experience seeks to connect us to each other, our natural world, our collective and shared histories and, in the end, ourselves. Like all of our programs, our domestic courses help students confront important realities and understand their agency in shaping our collective futures. As we slowly return to the soulful international programming that has always been the hallmark of a Dragons experience, we’re moving into 2021 with increased self-awareness of our home here in North America. That rediscovery will weave itself into our global tapestry, augmenting even more depth and breadth to our programming.
After college I moved to New Mexico, and then California. I spent my time guiding wilderness trips for youth. It led me to Dragons, and in my late 20’s I found myself on the Tibetan Plateau, leading a Dragons group from Lhasa to Mount Kailash, a sacred pilgrimage route for Buddhists and Hindus. I was struck then by how much the Tibetan Plateau reminded me of the Colorado Plateau and the vast American West. And now as I travel and live in the southwest, I’m reminded of Tibet. Future Dragons students will now share the rediscovery of a place many people call home, and come to know it for the first time with new eyes and understanding. As you start thinking of your plans for 2021, I hope our domestic programming is something you will consider. And if you decide to join us, I hope your experiences in the American West will always be with you, right beneath the surface, waiting to reawaken you, as it did for me this past week. With hope for the future,
Reed Harwood, Executive Director
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    [post_content] => Join us for a series of free webinars in the coming weeks with Dragons Director of Admissions, Eva Vanek, who will help answer your questions about summer, gap year, and college credit travel planning for 2021.

Summer Travel Webinar

Nov 25th at 5pm MST | Learn More/Register >> Dec 3rd at 5 pm MST | Learn More/Register >> Dec 9th at 5 pm MST | Learn More/Register >>    

Gap Year Travel Webinar

Nov 25th at 5pm MST | Learn More/Register >> Dec 3rd at 5 pm MST | Learn More/Register >> Dec 9th at 5 pm MST | Learn More/Register >>    

College Summer Abroad Webinar

Nov 25th at 5pm MST | Learn More/Register >> Dec 3rd at 5 pm MST | Learn More/Register >> Dec 9th at 5 pm MST | Learn More/Register >>    

PRESENTED BY:

Eva Vanek, B.A. with honors in International Development, minor in Anthropology, McGill University. Growing up canoeing and camping Eva found her way to Dragons in 2009 where she led a Guatemala program and later, a couple Andes and Amazon Semesters. Presently, Eva is thrilled to be working as the Dragons Admissions Director and in her spare time enjoys volunteering at the Boulder homeless shelter, touring on her bike and passing quality time in the garden.

____

Interested in gaining your own in-field perspective of the world through cultural immersion, wilderness exploration, and language study? Learn more about our unfiltered and immersive Summer and Gap Year programs in Asia, Africa, and the Americas here.

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    [post_content] => This webinar is brought to you by the Dragons Global Speaker Series – a program where our global educators share lessons in critical thinking related to current world events.
____
On October 18, 2020 Evo Morales's leftwing party, Movimiento al Socialismo (Mas), celebrated a stunning comeback with the progressive candidate, Luis Arce winning Bolivia's presidential election in what could be considered a landslide victory (about 20 points according to exit polls.)

It’s a remarkable turn of events, especially considering that just under a year ago, Morales—the longtime indigenous president and incumbent—was overthrown in a police-military coup who then installed the right wing evangelical Jeanine Áñez as president.

In this webinar recorded in May of 2020, Julianne Chandler, Dragons Latin America Program Director, shares her experience of living in Bolivia as the Coronavirus pandemic collided with the fallout from an already devastating political crisis.

A COUP OR NOT A COUP?

The Fall of Evo Morales and Political Transformation in Bolivia

Synopsis:

The Plurinational State of Bolivia was already in crisis when the global pandemic took hold, after contested elections in October of 2019 incited national protests and the sudden ousting of longtime indigenous president and incumbent Evo Morales. A highly controversial debate about whether or not Morales was victim to a right-wing coup has been overshadowed by draconian quarantine measures and increasing restrictions on civil liberties being implemented by the interim government of Jeanine Añez, no friend to Bolivia’s indigenous majority. As a new round of national elections in Bolivia continue to be delayed indefinitely in the face of the public health emergency, serious questions remain unanswered about Evo’s hurried departure, what constitutes a coup d’etat, and the politics of pandemic under a de facto government in South America’s diverse and often misunderstood Andean nation. This session will provide an outline and assessment of recent events in Bolivia from Julianne’s personal experience living through the political crisis and pandemic.

Presented by:

Julianne Chandler, M.A. Poverty and Development, The Institute of Development Studies. B.A. Anthropology and Latin American Studies, New York University. Julianne is the Latin America Program Director with Dragons and lives in Tiquipaya, Bolivia with her husband and two daughters.

____

Interested in developing your own in-field perspective of Bolivia through cultural immersion, wilderness exploration, and language study? Learn more about our unfiltered and immersive Summer and Gap Year programs here.

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    [post_content] => I want to tell you about my extraordinary friend Sushil Babu Chettri from Nepal. He’s an inspiration for a whole number of reasons, not least for his remarkable life story. His full firsthand account can be found on the Learning Service blog.

He was born in a remote village in the west of Nepal, but ran away as a child and ended up on the streets of Kathmandu. At the age of eight, he learned how to beg from tourists and avoid getting addicted to drugs, while enduring the violence of street gangs.

After some time a tourist “rescued” him and brought him to an orphanage, but unfortunately, the place was corrupt and abusive. The children had no-one to care for them and had to cook and clean for themselves. They did not go to school and had no healthcare. The kids were not even fed enough and were sent out to beg for food. The owner collected donations from various sources but the money never reached the children.

 

Volunteers would come in and out of the orphanage, never suspecting that they were contributing to the exploitation of the children. The volunteers showered love and gifts on the orphanage kids, but the children found it traumatizing to have a conveyor-belt of caregivers, and when they left the hardships resumed.
At the age of twelve, Sushil was the oldest child in the orphanage and felt responsible for getting the children out. He eventually exposed the situation to an American lady and then made a police report about the conditions in the orphanage. The children were all rescued and it slowly their story came out – none of them were orphans, they had all been trafficked there.
The children all went to an organization that cared for them and tried to reconnect them with their families. Sushil felt he was too old to start school but instead he learned skills like how to use a camera and started making short films. He started documenting the lives of street children through film and raising awareness of social issues such as getting children of Kathmandu’s slums into schools. He only reconnected to his family and returned to his village when he was an adult, finding out for the first time that he had a younger brother. The issue that Sushil campaigns on most passionately is orphanage trafficking. After experiencing firsthand how orphanages are run as businesses in order to attract donations, with children stolen from rural areas like where he grew up, he now hosts talks and workshops with tourists and volunteers – and Dragons students! – to share his experience. Recently he has been trying to draw attention to the plight of children trapped in abusive orphanages during the coronavirus pandemic. In recent months, Sushil has been back in his remote home town documenting the situation of migrant laborers as they pour over the border from India despite the strict lockdown. He has been active in campaigning for aid for them, but also for aid to be given in the right way and to not be tokenistic or vanity-driven. He is also launching a project to build a well in his village in order to support vegetable growing there.
Throughout Sushil’s life, he has demonstrated remarkable resilience. He is friendly, positive, and fun, and is always willing to use his time and voice to help other people. He is an enormous inspiration to me – and as close as they come to a living legend.
Sushil Babu Chhetri is a freelance photographer and filmmaker who is based in Kathmandu, Nepal. His films include Flowers in the Dust and Letter to God. He is also an activist campaigning on behalf of children living on the street and in orphanages. You can follow him on YouTube and Instagram.  
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Inspired? Join us on a Summer Abroad, Gap Year, or Custom Travel Program and meet more heroes like Sushil! [post_title] => Local Heroes Series: Sushil Babu Chettri, Nepal [post_excerpt] => I want to tell you about my extraordinary friend Sushil Babu Chettri from Nepal. He’s an inspiration for a whole number of reasons, not least for his remarkable life story. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => local-heroes-nepal [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-11-10 19:58:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-11-11 02:58:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 3 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 776 [name] => Local Heroes Series [slug] => local-heroes-series [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 776 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 2 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 1 [cat_ID] => 776 [category_count] => 2 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Local Heroes Series [category_nicename] => local-heroes-series [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/local-heroes-series/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 638 [name] => From the Field [slug] => from_the_field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 638 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [parent] => 0 [count] => 78 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 78 [category_description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [cat_name] => From the Field [category_nicename] => from_the_field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/from_the_field/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 653 [name] => Global Community [slug] => global_community [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 653 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [parent] => 0 [count] => 51 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 51 [category_description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [cat_name] => Global Community [category_nicename] => global_community [category_parent] => 0 ) [3] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 1 [name] => Uncategorized [slug] => uncategorized [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 1 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 14 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 16 [cat_ID] => 1 [category_count] => 14 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Uncategorized [category_nicename] => uncategorized [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Local Heroes Series, From the Field ... )
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    [post_date] => 2020-09-08 10:47:40
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    [post_content] => 

About Mbouillé

Mbouillé Diallo currently works in diplomatic security. He is an educator and taught young Senegalese and American students, specializing in language and culture. He is a seasoned Dragons instructor, he led Dragon's inaugural West Africa summer program in 2005 and has been invited numerous times as a speaker and trainer for Dragons staff training. A former radio host, he is very interested in politics and geo-politics, though he is not a member of any political party. He is currently writing an autobiographical book and lives with his wife and four children in Thies, Senegal. A former soccer player, trainer and referee, Mr. Diallo likes to watch soccer games and see his kids play.    

     

Interviewing Mbouillé

Can you speak a little bit about what it was like to grow up in Kolda?

I remember, when I was a lot younger, my parents or people of their generation would refer to the regions North of the Gambia as Senegal, and our area (South) as Casamance. I always wondered why. To me we were all Senegalese. My father served in the army and later the Police of Senegal. We ended up living in Kolda just because my father decided to build his house there. Actually, many of my siblings and myself (as a little boy) did not like having to live in Kolda. Because we wanted to be in the North and be "Senegalese". As I was growing up, I realized how grateful I should be to God and my parents for giving me the opportunity to grow up in Kolda. I am not sure I would have learnt and understood a lot of things. Maybe, I would not have been the same person. Two examples can help explain why I am saying this:
  • People like me who grow up in Kolda are what I call a "Language and Culture Melting Pot". Thanks to my past and experience I speak at least seven languages. In my neighborhood, we were surrounded by families of different origins. Almost in each family, they spoke a different language and had something specific to their culture, religion etc. There were several ethnic groups and each had some specificities. That's why I would do whatever I could to not miss family ceremonies. As such, I was able to grow up learning from others and build my own personality, my future… my life. I am deeply convinced that without this past I would not have had the opportunity to work at the US Peace Corps, Dragons and other foreign organizations, or it would not have been the same. With my background and education, it was quite easy for me to understand others and know that staying or working with someone thought to be different from you is a gift and WEALTH.
  • When I was a little boy, electricity and running water was nonexistent in our neighborhood. We learnt to struggle to succeed in difficult conditions. We would study at night with "lampe Tempete'' (kerosene lamps); and had to pull water from wells to drink, bathe, and do the laundry etc. The legend says that the best civil servants (teachers, health workers, etc.) were mainly posted in the Northern part of the country. My family was considered as one of the wealthiest in the neighborhood, but we loved each other, as friends and played together in the streets as one. We shared food, clothes, school supplies and anything to make friends happy. We learnt to be independent and fight to succeed at school and in society. The one thing I feared the most was going to the bush to fetch firewood for cooking or working in farms. However, by following my friends and seeing how well they were doing, I decided to do the same. The most memorable times of my childhood comes from the moments I spent with friends in the bush, hunting, wrestling, playing games and fighting sometimes. Growing up with that is worth years of school studies.
 

You reached out to Dragons with a grant proposal to fund Dr. Yaya Balde's campaign to purchase Personal Protective Equipment in the Region of Kolda. Can talk to us a little more about how these funds will help healthcare workers and the local population?

Healthcare workers were quite unable to fulfill their daily tasks to reach out to communities in the beginning, communicate well with them, let them know that following guidance given by authorities is key to fight COVID 19. The health system and facilities in Kolda is one of the least equipped in the country. Staff did not have enough tools (masks, gloves, hygiene gels, soap etc). Healthcare officials could not keep telling people to wash their hands if the latter don't have soap or water (in some areas). They used a few radio programs, but being in the field was the best way to communicate with people. Healthcare workers knew it would take time to change people's mind and let them understand that COVID 19 is real and anyone can be infected. The virus can survive anywhere; be it a hot, humid or cold area.  They needed the basic tools and products to help communities fight. The public health system also depends on volunteers, since many health workers are not treated as civil servants and their salaries depend on the fees paid by patients in public hospitals and health care centers. Some health workers unions and hospital managers publicly announced that they might not be able to pay some salaries in the near future if solutions are not found quickly. So, I understood that people's lives are at risk. How can someone who struggles on a daily basis to get the minimum to feed themselves and their family be able to pay for fees in order to be taken care of by public health care? And if the health care workers are frustrated and stressed out, because not only don’t have good salaries, but also they might even be paid, I do not think they will be able to help fight COVID 19 in an efficient way.  I thought it would be very helpful to help with means to anticipate and limit the number of people contaminated or affected. I contacted Dr. Balde and learned that there is a committee in charge that can receive donations. Knowing that I do not have enough income to personally bring a help that could impact, I decided to contact friends who could work directly with him and coordinate donations.  

What is the current state of the Covid-19 crisis in Senegal? How has the virus impacted daily life for most people?

As of today Senegal Registered 3253 confirmed cases among whom over 2000 recovered and 38 died. The government of Senegal has not yet opted for total lockdown. However, we are in a state of emergency and under curfew (2100 to 05:00).  The virus has impacted people's daily life in many domains: In terms of the economy, the majority of Senegalese workers are in the informal sector. The economy has slowed down and many locals have been having problems getting income to take care of their daily needs and their families. This crisis has also shown that the health system is extremely weak in this country as it is in many other developing countries. We realize now that the health system has issues in staffing (low salaries or no salary for many of them), and equipment (absence of masks, gloves, hygiene stuff) etc. More importantly, this crisis shows that good communication, hygiene and healthy diets can save lives and money.   The government voted for a special budget to support needy people. As such, food and hygiene products were supposed to be delivered to families that do not have income within a short period of time. Unfortunately, over one month after the decision has been made, many regions have not yet received anything from the government. The government could have done a better job if they did not focus on political actions that we call in French ‘Du Voyez moi’ (look at me). The minister in charge of this task is travelling and using the government TV and other Medias to show up and pretend that he is doing a good job delivering what the community deserves.  On a positive note, this crisis has pushed some sectors to be creative and work on resiliency. Though we are not used to producing and consuming locally, some sectors have decided to participate in the fight by producing masks, machines, gels etc.  

In your opinion, how effective has the leadership in Senegal been at managing the crisis?

To me there was good leadership in the beginning, in the sense that there was an agreement between the current government, the opposition, and most of the other sectors of the society. They all decided to fight the pandemic together. However, I believe, they forgot to take into account certain realities. Most of the recommendations were to stay at home and follow recommendations made by health organizations and authorities. The communication was done in the way that they focused more on stigmatization than addressing the issue. Many people still consider COVID 19 as shameful. That's why many communities did not want to be moved from home (house/village,city, neighborhood) to their quarantine  places (hospitals, hotels and centers).  Also, in my mind, the decision to move all the patients tested positive was a mistake. Many people could have stayed at home and taken care of. The huge amount of money spent to move and take care of those people in hotels could have been saved for investing in testing, research and equipment.  The decision to follow some recommendations was not adequate. For example, they could have recommended locals to wear masks right at the beginning of the crisis, rather than recommending only sick people should wear a mask. I think that added to the false belief that COVID does not exist.     Also, some local wealthy people and politicians who pretended to bring their own revenue into the fight were not doing it for the sake of helping needy people, but rather for publicity. Why would someone whose aim is to help people get out of the crisis expose the stuff and money he is giving in front of cameras and post it on social media? On the other hand, I came to realize that Senegal might not be as poor as our authorities claim. The amount of money that has been collected from politicians and other private business owners could have been enough to help us tackle the problem right at the beginning. If this money was used in the way it should be, the health system in this country would not have been at this sad level.     

Is there anything you wish people living abroad knew about Senegal?

Senegal is one country with a lot of differences and details specific to peoples’ lives; it’s not fair to say there is one culture of Senegal. Senegal is not a poor country, but communities are not always given the opportunity to take advantage of their resources. The colonial system and history have impacted Senegal in different ways. Depending on where you are in the country, you can see these differences.  As such, the decision-makers should take into account the community realities in order to manage and help this country get out of the hole. So, for people living abroad, the best way to know this country and understand the realities to connect directly with locals, stay with them, travel with them….  Also, the educational system has to change. No community can make progress without a good system of education. And leaders should understand that not only people who are literate in French should be considered as educated people or intellectuals. There are a lot of people who could be good resources, but they are not being asked; if they are, their ideas are not taken into account.

What are your hopes and fears for the future?

I will summarize my hopes in one sentence: I wish the future of this country to be left in the hands of those who have the capacity and deserve it. I am optimistic that the new activist movements that are spreading now all over Africa will help us get to that. Many young Africans now understand that the most obvious guarantee to move forward is real Africa Union…

Anything else you want us to know?

I will be happy to get back to you if you have further questions. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express myself in a few lines about my country…..    

Dragons Fund is a program of the COMMON Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax-deductible as permitted by U.S. tax law.

 
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[post_title] => SENEGAL COMMUNITY GRANT UPDATE: An Interview With Mbouillé Diallo [post_excerpt] => Mbouillé Diallo currently works in diplomatic security. He is an educator and taught young Senegalese and American students, specializing in language and culture. He is a seasoned Dragons instructor, he led Dragon's inaugural West Africa summer program in 2005 and has been invited numerous times as a speaker and trainer for Dragons staff training. A former radio host, he is very interested in politics and geo-politics, though he is not a member of any political party. He is currently writing an autobiographical book and lives with his wife and four children in Thies, Senegal. A former soccer player, trainer and referee, Mr. Diallo likes to watch soccer games and see his kids play. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => senegal-community-grant-fund [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-11-10 20:21:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-11-11 03:21:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 4 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 638 [name] => From the Field [slug] => from_the_field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 638 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [parent] => 0 [count] => 78 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 78 [category_description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [cat_name] => From the Field [category_nicename] => from_the_field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/from_the_field/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 653 [name] => Global Community [slug] => global_community [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 653 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [parent] => 0 [count] => 51 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 51 [category_description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [cat_name] => Global Community [category_nicename] => global_community [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/global_community/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 641 [name] => About Dragons [slug] => about_dragons [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 641 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [parent] => 0 [count] => 54 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 54 [category_description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [cat_name] => About Dragons [category_nicename] => about_dragons [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, Global Community ... )
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    [post_date] => 2020-08-18 11:00:41
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    [post_content] => 

Meet Lin Theik

Lin is a 29 year old tour guide, educator, and entrepreneur from Myanmar. The ninth of ten children, Lin has a contagious enthusiasm for travel, learning from differing perspectives, and environmental entrepreneurism. Linn is a hero on many fronts - from exposing local youth to a variety of cultures within the borders of his own country to finding creative solutions for reusing plastic.

Lin’s Story

Lin had been working as a guide with a tour company leading young American students throughout Myanmar when he asked himself, “Why not do this with local students?” This question inspired him to found an organization, called Promised Land, that brings local youth on trips within Myanmar that exposes them to differing cultures and perspectives found within their own country. Lin teaches Myanmarese youth how to travel, guiding his students to reflect upon their own experiences and helping them to build a cohesive group dynamic. Students learn leadership skills, oversee the group budget, engage in trekking, and have discussions with local community members. Lin tries to give them, “what they cannot get from the city.” He says, “I’m trying to let them see what you really need to see, trying to get them to think outside the box.” Through these immersive and hands-on travel experiences, Lin aspires to cultivate a combination of confidence and respect within his students. Lin shares that one of the biggest obstacles in working with the youth of Myanmar is in fact their parents! Culturally, parents aren’t accustomed to being apart from their children and have high expectations for consistent communication and a low tolerance for separation. Lin surmounts these obstacles by posting daily messages on social media for the parents as well as keeping the trip length to a maximum of four days! Over the years, two prominent figures have influenced Lin’s approach to life. The first was his late father, whose wisdom shaped Lin’s heart-centered manner in which he approaches people. His father taught him,
'People will forget what you say and what you give, but they will never forget how you treat them.' The second was a former boss, who taught Lin, 'When you talk to the people, you talk with your heart, not with your brain.'
Those words of wisdom have a visible effect on the way in which Lin interacts with others; he exudes a zest for life and heart-centeredness that permeates all of his encounters. Lin states, “Traveling is important … to see the world in a different perspective.” He surmises that traveling is akin to standing in front of a mirror; it provides the opportunity to reflect upon one’s life and also to see from another person’s perspective. He shares, “The youth can change the world, if they try to know each other. If you want to know each other, you have to go to the place you’ve never been, talk to the people you’ve never talked to, and eat the food that you’ve never eaten.”
Forever the entrepreneurial spirit, when Lin isn’t busy guiding, he is developing a project to collect plastic and recycle it into bricks to be used for construction.
The idea came to him after watching local pagodas integrate straw to fortify the clay in the creation of bricks. He thought why not use plastic for the same purpose. He is in the process of creating this project and aspires to collect plastic gathered by people in his community by trading a prescribed amount for a t-shirt. We’ll end with Lin’s words of wisdom: “Walk the way you’ve never walked. Don’t judge people, go the road the people go so you will see it. Go travel and learn. You can have fun and see what is there.” Lin believes that meeting new people and seeing the world through different points of view is the key to understanding and true happiness. Lin's Film Recommendation: The Lady Lin's Book Recommendation: Twilight over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess Lin's Favorite Myanmarese Food: Mohinga: rice noodle soup served with beans, egg, and banana stem. An essential part of Burmese cuisine that is eaten in the morning and evening. To learn more about this inspiring human and his organization, please visit Lin’s website: Promised Land Myanmar.
 
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