Fougoulou Village Project
Senegal Africa

Click here to read October 2016 Report


An Open Letter from Craig Gerard

Thanks for taking a minute to learn about our project. Our names are Ronit & Craig Gerard, and we are raising money for a small rural village in Senegal.

Ronit finished her Peace Corps service in 2001, but always knew there was more to do to help her village, Fougoulou, in the Tambacounda region of Senegal. She brought Craig to visit in 2004, and we both saw many ways to improve the quality of life in Fougoulou. We did some fundraisers, but without a way to safely transfer the money, we deposited the money in a savings account until an opportunity presented itself. Fast forward 8 years, and Ronit, now working for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), was assigned to Senegal. This provided the unique opportunity for us to return to Fougoulou and continue to work with her village family.

This project is in no way linked to USAID or the work that Ronit is doing with USAID.

Being back in Senegal also provides an amazing opportunity for us to introduce our children, Shai and Micah, to Ronit's family in the village. Fougoulou is as much a part of the kids' vocabulary as quinoa or the Wii (well… maybe not as much as the Wii). We've made the eight-hour drive to Fougoulou a number of times in the past two years we've lived in Dakar. We built a home there. Actually, we paid the villagers to build a home. It's a thatched-roof mud hut… but it's ours - our first vacation home.

Our efforts to help have taken many forms, some successful and some not. We are trying to focus on grassroots development for a small community. So we did a census of the village. We asked them what they wanted. And we looked at some of the causes behind the roadblocks which keep them from moving forward. We've come up with a three-step plan to assist Fougoulou, but we need some help getting it done.

The end goal is to ensure that every child in the village receives a proper education. With a proper education, they will be better equipped to take on the many challenges they will face in their daily lives. However, in order to attend school (and to pay attention in school), they need the nutrients that contribute to their cognitive, physical and mental development. But in order to get the most out of the food they are eating, they need to be healthy. And this was one of the biggest problems we saw in our research: people in the village are often sick, meaning they don't have energy to farm and grow food; the food that they eat goes right through them without absorbing all the nutrients; and if it gets bad, they need to make a trip to the doctor to get costly medicine, which takes away from money that could be spent on food. In order to break this vicious cycle and give them a little help up, we've come up with the following three step plan.

Thanks for your time and continued support!!!
Craig, Ronit, Shai & Micah

Step One - Hygiene:
There are some very basic steps they can take to improve their hygiene. In our census, we found that for 516 people, there were a total of 16 toilets in the village. There are 39 compounds within the village, and they should each have their own functioning toilet. There are lots of studies proving the benefits of toilet use, but if you'd like a good example, click here. We are providing the materials (cement and rebar) and each compound will then be responsible for digging the hole and building their own toilet.

Once they use the toilet, the should clean their hands, and on our last trip down to Fougoulou we built a Tippy Tap hand washing station using all materials you can easily find in or around the village. We taught villagers how to build these, and we're hoping on our next trip down to see these hand washing stations throughout the village.

Step Two - Nutrition:
Day in and day out, the people of Fougoulou eat a very similar diet. Rice, oil, pounded corn, peanuts, occasionally a scrawny chicken… and very few vegetables. And yet the climate is well suited for year-round gardening. Unfortunately, the village's free roaming goats and other pests frequently get into the garden plots and destroy the plants and eat the produce. A lack of a nearby water source becomes another issue. To combat both of these, we built a fenced in community garden with its own dedicated well. Each compound will be given a small plot in which they can garden and grown vegetables, which will increase the vitamin intake, thus giving adults more energy for farming other crops and the kids more sustained energy for learning in school.

Step Three - Education:
Fourteen years ago, the government of Senegal built a two-room schoolhouse in Fougoulou. In the past 14 years, the desks, blackboard, and chairs have been worn down to the point of disrepair. Our goal is to get the school back up to a functioning level. This means new desks and tables, new teaching materials and a dedicated toilet for the school (currently, if a student has to go, they either go behind the school out in the open or have to go all the way back to their own compound). How extensive the work on the school is depends on how much assistance we get from you.



We are already moving forward with this three-step plan, but we can do more with your help. Our goal is to raise $5,000 as soon as possible.

What will that $5000, cover?
Good question, I'm glad you asked.
* Remaining supplies for toilets
* Repairing the school's foundation
* New chairs and desks
* Paint for the school (inside and out)
* Fence for the school yard
* Dedicated toilet for the school
* School Supplies
* Labor and materials


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Notice: As of Feb 20th this project is
fully funded.

Learn more about Philanthropic Ventures Foundation


Any amount will help, but with a donation of $150 or more, we will send you this adorable "Let me top that off for you" coffee mug.

Thank you to all of those friends that send doantions to fulfill this program. Craig and Ronit

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