After six months away, it’s hard to believe I will really be walking the same streets, eating the same delicious food, and spending long evenings with the same people as I did during my semester off. But it’s really happening, and this time I’m better equipped and ready for new challenges.
The biggest new challenge, of course, is the project I have embarked on with the Global Research and Advocacy Group (GRAG). GRAG is an organization that works to better the conditions of vulnerable communities, including men who have sex with men (MSM), female sex workers (FSW), and orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC) through research and advocacy work. I am working with GRAG on their next big project: to open a learning center for vulnerable populations, equipped with a library, computers, and teachers. It is GRAG’s hope that by providing services to build the capacities of vulnerable populations, whether it be in computer literacy, legal advocacy, or French language, GRAG will be better equipping members of vulnerable communities to fight their own battles and improve not just their own social status, but that of their whole community.
It is impossible to predict what will be accomplished towards the goal of opening this center, but I intend to work on it and related issues at GRAG my whole stay here.
I found this organization while I was here six months ago on my semester off. I was doing background research, looking into publications and whatnot, for potential thesis topics when I found a paper on the case of MSM in Senegal. It was authored by some six people, one of whom is my current boss at GRAG, Amadou Moreau. After meeting with Amadou and learning more about GRAG, I was sure I wanted to be involved. Half a year later, I finally will be. :)