23 Toyota Land Rovers greet us and we divide ourselves up for the roughly 90 minute ride to the small village of Keur Simbara where we have the opportunity to witness firsthand the outstanding work being done by Tostan, and award-winning human rights organization that aims to bring about sustainable development and social transformation (read also, end to FGC, or female genital cutting) in West Africa. We are given a warm and heart-touching welcome and village tour, and are all impressed with the education program, and the “solar engineers”, village grandmothers (less likely to leave the village than the younger folk) who have been trained in solar panel installation, system maintenance, and repair, all the way down to the component level. Impressive. More impactful to all of us is the long term work being done via eduction on limiting the practice of FGC. This work will be outlined in founder Molly Melching’s book, However Long the Night (HarperOne) being released this April, 2013. We then drive a short distance to the Tostan training center for another festive greeting, complete with group dance, before lunch and then back in to our caravan for the ride back to the city. Wow, what a day.
After a very short break, we are treated to a welcome presentation by the US Ambassador in Senegal, Mr. Lewis Lukens, and then local music and dinner, before we retire to get ready for another long travel day.