The second of two shipments of sustainable farming equipment has arrived in Senegal! And Our Farm In A Box Program Manager Chris Newhouse is hard at work with Gorgui Dieng of the Minnesota Timberwolves to expand access to health in the player’s home country. This journal entry is the first in a series that depicts Chris’s personal experiences as MATTER and the Gorgui Dieng Foundation dig in and begin constructing a Demonstration Farm for sustainable agriculture outside of Kebemer. The project will save lives, improve community livelihood, and help build a sustainable future for Senegal.
After nearly a day of travel, Gary Reither and I arrived in Dakar, Senegal, late Tuesday night. Gary is a fencer from Wisconsin who has been working with us on the design and implementation of a perimeter fence built around the farm. At nearly a mile in length, this fence will serve the critical purpose of keeping out animals that can destroy crops.
We waited a couple hours for our bags to arrive on the belt. Eventually, Tapha Camara, the head of the Gorgui Deing Foundation in Senegal, brought us to the Djollof hotel, where we would be staying. Tapha told me on the ride over that the Farm in a Box container was just then on its way to the farm, so I was concerned that we wouldn’t have all the materials we needed.
The next morning Gary and I had breakfast on the rooftop. We spent the morning waiting. My phone was going in and out and I wasn’t able to contact anyone.
We didn’t get to the farm until 6:00 am. A truck sat by the chicken coop filled with fencing material and the two hoop houses from the Farm in a Box container. We were concerned that none of the tools and other equipment were there, but Bharama, Gorgui’s cousin and the farm manager, had put them in the chicken coop for safe keeping.
Gorgui arrived with his entourage at around 7:00 am and we met him on the road to drive to his other land by Lompoul. He walked us around and we talked about his plans for fruit trees, peppers, and meat birds to be raised in some concrete coops that were left on the property.
Gary had brought along several pair of army surplus boots for the workers. When we got back to the trucks, he brought out a pair for Matar, a worker at Gorgui’s farm. He was a bull last time I saw him, and probably the hardest worker at the farm. But he looked very weak and sickly compared to when I saw him a month ago.
Ramadan. I found out Ramadan had begun a few weeks ago, but didn’t really put it together that all the guys here would be fasting and not drinking water all day.
Should be interesting what today brings…
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Chris Newhouse, Farm in a Box Project Manager