How We Began
|I am writing this as one of the participants in this journey. It all began with the "Awakening of the Roots" 2004 trip to Senegal, West Africa. That is when a group of twelve friends, acquaintances, and strangers traveled to Senegal on a yet-to-be-discovered life-changing journey. Prior to making arrangements for this trip, we all knew Mamadou Diop, who was responsible for arranging the details of the trip to his homeland.|
There, the group lived for two weeks under one roof at a stylish hotel (not in a thatch-roof hut), building a relationship based on trust, friendship, and family. After all, we were a group of Americans who stood out among the local residents of Senegal. The general contents of the trip were somewhat prearranged, but the details of when we were going to do what were decided on a day-to-day basis, based on group member suggestions and requests.
It was paradise! We left Massachusetts, where temperatures plummeted below 0°F for several weeks in a row. On the coast of Senegal, it was from 70°F to 80°F just about every day. It was NICE.
We met the local people, and were impressed with their genuine openness and hospitality towards what we call "complete strangers". There we were, a bunch of Americans, invited in to have tea, great food, and sweet conversations about the world, learning how different, and yet similar, we all are. We all like nice things. We all enjoy good music and art. We all distrust politicians. However, we as average Americans have much more wealth than most upperclass citizens of Senegal. That is largely due to the thriving economy in the United States, as compared to the third-world economy of Senegal, where unemployment is around 50 percent nationwide (not good).
We learned that in Senegal, there are some human service organizations that strive to make a difference for the people of their local areas. They have missions to bring health care, utilities, training and skills, and anything else that can make life better for everyone there. The trouble is that they have very little funding, as their government does not support social services, mainly because the Senegalese government is also very limited in its ability to spend money.
As a group, we unanimously decided that we had to meet with some of these human service organizations (isn't this how you spend your vacations?). We were not sure what we could do to help them, but we figured the least we could do is find out more, and then maybe we could figure out the details later. We met with two particular groups: 3D (called triple "D", or "3D"), and ADEPA. You are encouraged to learn more about these two wonderful organizations.
It is important to note that both of these groups have started with nothing. They are built on the backs and minds of determined people. It is that simple. Whether we help them or not, they will strive to achieve their goals. They have already established themselves as Senegalese non-profit organizations who help the elderly, orphans, and lost kids. They also work with underdeveloped villages, and the ill.
From there, we agreed that if these groups can make it with what little they have, then it is very possible that we can make a difference in this world with what little we have.
Upon returning to the United States in late January, we started meeting as a group on February 12, 2004. On May 6, 2004, we incorporated our non-profit organization. It is called A3D, which means literally "African Development through Drum and Dance". The mission of A3D is to raise money, acquire assets, and start microenterprises to help specially targeted West African Non-Profit Organizations.