Shaping Change in Senegal with Yakaar Africa

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In 2006, a group of Spanish tourists arrived in Senegal, a country on the west coast of Africa. On their trip, they were accompanied by a guide who only spoke French and bits of Italian. In order to communicate with the tourists, their guide, Demba, bought a Spanish dictionary and every night he studied the words and prepared for the next day. Despite the language barrier, Demba was a fantastic guide and a unique relationship was formed with the tourists. He took this particular group deep into Senegal and introduced them to the country’s local inhabitants. The tourists learned a lot from the Senegalese people, including their customs and ways of life. Above all, they learned about the problems and hardships the country faced. From this trip, the Yakaar Africa association was formed, focusing on the future and building sustainable development in Senegal and other African countries.

I have been a part of Yakaar Africa for several years, and I recently took my fifth trip to Senegal. This time I brought my children, friends, and family. The health of the population has improved immensely thanks to the provision of specific medication used to treat anemia and malnutrition. While this is encouraging, there will only be a sustainable solution to the problem if we can improve the population’s diet. Currently, this is based almost exclusively on products rich in carbohydrates, but virtually lacking in protein.

Our action as Yakaar Africa is possible through the participation and collaboration of the different representative groups of the people in Senegal, including the heads of the towns, women, and youth. We are working on the first phase by improving farms and gardens, but our aim is always to make these projects self-sustaining.

In many ways, the passion for Yakaar Africa are the same as my daily concerns at Hexagon Geospatial. In my job, it is vital that I understand my customer’s problem so I can determine the best answer for them. With Yakaar Africa, I also need to see and understand the needs of the Senegalese people. Once we understand, it is our job as Yakaar Africa to provide the tools they need to solve the problems at hand.

Imagine how great it would be to analyze the environment and determine which plantations will have the best harvest, tracking them year after year! Then we could focus our resources on the farms with the greatest promise of return, always with the latest information to help guide our efforts.

Yakaar Africa’s missions include building farms, health centers, local businesses, and schools. Many of the schools lack both materials and health services for students. At Yakaar Africa, we currently accept donations of materials to support education, as well as volunteers to help provide services. All of the donations and the work of our volunteers are of enormous use to the schools in Senegal.

During this trip, we donated a box of children’s clothing and Hexagon Geospatial branded materials including pens, highlighters, notebooks and other useful things for children to use at school. You wouldn’t believe the looks on their faces!

It is important for us to be proactive and continue to promote improvement in the standard of living for these countries. It is also necessary that we have confidence in the future, now that we know what can be achieved. Visit the Yakaar Africa page to see how you can help!

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About Author

Bego Verdejo

Maria Begoña Verdejo is a Senior Presales Engineer with Hexagon Geospatial and works out of the Madrid, Spain office. She has been with Intergraph and Hexagon Geospatial for more than 28 years. Her expertise is in GIS, Publishing, Transportation, Remote Sensing and specializes in Photogrammetry and 3D applications. Bego's love for nature prompted her to study Surveying and Geodesy at the Technical University of Madrid. Her hobbies outside of work include skiing, tennis and photography. She also spends time helping the less fortunate and regularly engages in solidarity trips to Africa.

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