Evelyn Marie Sabino is a member of the Peace Corps and, as a volunteer, received an assignment for two years to Goudiry, a small town of 10,000 inhabitants in Senegal. She was the sole participant in the last Round Table of “Finding Vince 400.” Evelyn is a young American woman who had a strong desire to leave behind the comfort of her country in order to live an experience of Solidarity far from home and in a different culture. “I could have been a volunteer in America” she said during the panel “but it would not have been the same thing. I believed it was important to leave and put myself to the test in a faraway place; and, despite the difficulty, I have not faced in anyway comparable to that which my mother experienced in her childhood!”
In Goudiry Evelyn has the goal of supporting those women that desire to become entrepreneurs by beginning their own business. The motives are multiple: free the women from the male dominated culture of Senegal, make them autonomous and make the local society autonomous.
Evelyn underlined the importance of the role of the volunteers who are free also to participate in other projects to which they are invited. In fact she is reflecting with the families in this place about how to find a solution to the disposal of trash. In Goudiry there does not exist any service of trash disposal and the garbage is thrown everywhere, creating problems of hygiene that are quite precarious.
After this introduction, our Volunteer introduced the very object of her intervention in the Festival: the printed coloring book entitled “Maimouna Makes a Goal.”
The story of the book is very charming: it all began thanks to another female volunteer who told Evelyn that the children did not have coloring books. The problem is doubled because if books arrived from America, there could be cultural problems. Many of our coloring books tell stories that are not in line with the local culture. For this reason Evelyn thought about writing a new, as yet unpublished, story that the children of Goudiry could color in. The story is about a little girl who wants to play soccer with her brother and his friends, but, because of gender issues, she is excluded from the game. The little girl works with her mother and saves some of her earnings. When the ball her brother is using is punctured, she buys him another and gives it to him after he agrees to allow her to play. She plays her first game and even scores a goal, making everyone happy.
The story not only helps to teach the children to color, but also inspires important values: like the equality of the genders, the capacity to save money and sharing and uniting the resources!
A very Vincentian story!