“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have been altered.”
From July 16-24th, I traveled to the village of Ndoffane Boure in Senegal to break ground on a school with 14 other sorority women from across the country. We came from different chapters, different backgrounds, and different lifestyles, yet our common passion for the mission of the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation, to remove barriers to education for girls and women worldwide, brought us together.
It is still hard for me to put this experience into words. Each day brought many emotions; I felt everything from happiness, guilt, exhaustion and heartache, to hope. The people of Ndoffane Boure were some of the most kind, welcoming, and beautiful souls I have ever encountered, and through living, learning, and working with them, I have gained a greater perspective and an even greater sense of responsibility to further the Circle of Sisterhood’s mission.
I don’t think I had truly seen poverty until I lived in the village of Ndoffane Boure. Until then, I had never met a starving child before. I had never thought twice about whether my water was clean or lived long-term without electricity. It is natural to want to help in any way we can, but what I learned through this experience is that throwing money at the problem will do nothing- we need to help in a way that is both sustainable and empowering. And this solution is education. It’s not a quick fix, but over time, education can address many of the world’s problems, from poverty to the discrimination and oppression of women. When more women around the world are educated, we begin to change how their role, purpose, and potential are viewed. And I believe that as educated sorority women, we have a responsibility to help. We already have a commitment to service. We are leaders and innovators. We are capable of changing the world.
While on trek, I got to know a woman named Fagaye Wade, who was one of our interpreters while in the village. Fa was the first woman of her community of 103 villages to attend university, and I have no doubt that she is a role model to many younger girls who aspire to do the same. Although at times the problem of educational inequity seems insurmountable, we must realize that it only takes one woman to become a role model or a mentor to many others. One community at a time, we are making a difference, too.
To all who have supported the Circle of Sisterhood in all of its endeavors, including the school build in Ndoffanne Boure, know that you are making an immense impact on the lives of girls and women in communities around the world. You can continue the impact with a gift today: http://circleofsisterhood.org/donate.
Thanks to Megan O’Brien for sharing your story and pictures! Megan is a Human Services major at the University of Delaware. She is a proud Delta Gamma, currently serving as chapter president. She is also involved with Order of Omega and Rho Lambda Society.