The inspiration for BSEI came during my first trip to Senegal in March, 2019 fulfilling a two decades old dream. While visiting Lake Retba (Loc Rose) outside of Dakar, my friend, and current BSEI board member, Elie Deu and I met the determined girl you see in the picture to the left; her name is Saly. When Saly approached us I gave her 1000 CFA, about the equivalent of $2. A few minutes later her mother came up to us and asked if the money was for all of the children or just her daughter. Through our guide/translator, Landry, I told her that it was just for her daughter. Not sure how to interpret the interaction, Landry explained to me that the women who work hauling the 50-60 lbs buckets of salt from the boats on the lake (see the pictures below) make about 5-6 Euros per day; I had apparently given Saly a significant amount. Looking at the other kids there that day, and reflecting on what Saly’s mom had asked, I decided I could and would do something for all of them.
As an educator, with over 10 years of teaching experience at the primary, secondary, and university levels in addition to my years of living in Morocco first as a Peace Corps Volunteer (1997-1999) and later as a Fulbright Research Fellow (2011), I was familiar with some of the issues of educational inequality with which many developing countries struggle. My thoughts turned to finding a way to support the education of girls like Saly and young women in rural areas of Senegal. The proverbial seeds of BSEI had been planted.
Ryan Misler, Founder
Baobab Senegal Education Initiative Inc.