Monday, September 29, 2008


October 1, 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

Asalaamalekum! I hope this finds you happy and healthy. Since moving to Senegal in 2007, I have been performing my primary assignment as a rural health education volunteer, in Kanel, in the Matam region. I am also involved in many secondary projects, including SeneGAD, Peace Corps Senegal’s Gender and Development advocacy organization.

SeneGAD is a network of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) (of which I am a board member), that develop resources and programming that emphasize gender equality. SeneGAD encourages volunteers to incorporate GAD work into all Peace Corps projects, including the Michele Sylvester Memorial Scholarship, women’s health and leadership conferences, and youth clubs. We hope that these events will inspire the participants, bring attention to issues of gender and development and provide a springboard for future SeneGAD efforts.

The Michele Sylvester Scholarship Fund was founded in 1993 in memory of former Peace Corps Senegal Volunteer Michele Sylvester, who was committed to girl’s education. Initially, the scholarship benefited two village-based girls, but thanks to generous donations and fundraising the number of recipients has increased to forty girls for the 2007-2008 school year. After receiving the 25,000 CFA ($50) scholarships, each girl is partnered with a PCV who mentors and follows the girl’s progress throughout the school term.

PCVs are also encouraged to start youth clubs, an opportunity to educate and empower young people in the community. Often, groups make and sell crafts, learn about proper hygiene and nutrition, or undergo leadership training. Above all, these groups offer a safe place to discuss the challenges of growing up in Senegal and inspire young people to be active citizens.

Every year, SeneGAD raises money through a semi-annual auction and rummage sale and yearlong calendar and cookbook sales. As part of this year’s effort to expand SeneGAD’s visibility and increase programming, we are seeking additional support from friends and family back home. For $50, you can reward a hardworking middle school girl with a Michele Sylvester scholarship; for $20, you can sponsor a youth club.

Please send contributions to:
Friends of Senegal and The Gambia, ATTN.: Daniel Theisen, SeneGAD, 428 Bowleys Quarters Road, Baltimore, MD 21220. Friends of Senegal and The Gambia will forward proceeds to SeneGAD.

If you know of any others who might be interested in SeneGAD's mission, please feel free to share this letter with them. If you have any questions please contact me at:, 221. 77.257.1479, or the SeneGAD representative: Awa Traoré, SeneGAD Advisor,, B.P. 299, Thies, Senegal, 221.77.654.16.53.

Thank you in advance for supporting SeneGAD, and helping us achieve our goals and aspirations for gender equality in Senegal. I wish you and your family continued peace and good health.


Caitlin Givens


Anonymous said...

A question, Caitlin. In addition to sending money, would other supplies be useful as well? I saw in your post that the youth clubs make arts and crafts to sell. We've got some stuff lying around (glitter, crayons, etc) in fairly large quantities. Would any of these sorts of things be helpful or useful to you in any way?

By the way, a blog comment is not the ideal way to express this, but reading about your experiences in Senegal is simply amazing. Keep letting us know how to help!

Alexis Covey

Caitlin said...

Hi Alexis,
Thanks so much for following along and for your enthusiastic offer to help. I can't currently think of anyone who would need craft supplies. We tend to be pretty well-stocked because we all bring lots of stuff with us usually. But I will keep my ears and eyes open for anyone who might need crafts.
Thanks again!
I hope all is well.