Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Marie-Suzanne Schools Mont Rolland

We had our doubts. At 4:30, when only a handful of people had shown up for the workshop which had been advertised to start at 3, and all of those people were Marie-Suzanne's cousins, siblings, aunts, and parents, we got worried.

But there's on time and then there's Senegalese time. By 5 pm, the second speaker had finally shown up, and as they began, teens from the village continued arriving. By the end, a standing room-only crowd scrambled to get their hands on the free condoms, female condoms, and cool necklaces designed to help women keep track of their cycles.

(Go here to see more photos from the day.)

Rappers performed songs written especially for the workshop (and one of which will appear on the rapper's next album) and village kids danced and sang for the crowd.

From my perspective, I was disappointed with the focus on abstinence from the speakers. Plus, the organization that donated condoms only sent one box of about 50-60. They told Theo (who handed them out) they didn't want to encourage young people to have sex (Gah.) It seems to me, with all the young girls getting pregnant, that ship has sailed.

But it opened the discussion, and inspired Marie-Suzanne, who is planning to organize round two for next year's festival.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed. Marie-Suzanne also sends her heartfelt thanks for your help.