The Senegal-America Project

Click to listen to Nabi Nai, a traditional song recorded by Tony Vacca in Senegal

Click for Shelley Cryan's slide shows from April 2008 and February 2007

Cryan Photography

The Vision

The SENEGAL-AMERICA PROJECT is an expandable, up-close-and-personal model for practicing the most essential and obvious principle of human interactions, that we are all connected. The primary goal of the Project is to bring people together in meaningful collaborations that create transformational responses to what we share of common issues and common ground.

Please see the “Project History” to learn how the program began.

The Senegal-America Project has three interconnected components. The first is the exchange of artists from both countries. Several Senegalese artists, Massamba Diop, and Gokh bi System, have come to the US to perform. AAE artists and others have traveled to Senegal for performances. Our latest performance was at Theatre Daniel Sorano, the National Theatre of Senegal, with Bideew Bou Bess in December 2011.

The second component, The Senegal America Project's Projects and Visions Trips provide professional development for artists, educators and parents and a separate cultural educational exchange for students. It is an opportunity for artists from the US to work and record with Senegalese artists and musicians and with other artists from across Africa and around the world.

The third component of the SAP is the service projects that have grown out of needs that we and our travelers see and want to address. Between $50,000 to $60,000 has been donated by our travelers and supporters to help the Senegalese students and families. AAE, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 public charity, oversees all the donations.

Projects We Have Supported and Originated:

  • Delivered nearly 3500 insecticide treated mosquito nets to Senegalese families to prevent Malaria, one of the most deadly killers on the continent of Africa. Every 45 seconds a child on the continent of Africa dies from Malaria.
  • Assisted the Waranka Association in building, staffing and supplying one school in Pikine, Guinaw Rails, with books, materials and teachers.
  • Supporting the building of a second school in the same community.
  • Assisting with the annual flooding in Pikine, Guinaw Rails. Pikine is below sea-level and the annual rains generate streets flooded with contaminated water that the children and families must walk through.
  • Set in place screenings in the village of Toubab Diallo for the artist retreat staff and villagers by a retired nurse for diabetes and hypertension, both silent killers in Senegal.
  • Started a support program for Dr. Marone in Pikine, Guinaw Rails for citizens identified by SAP and the Waranka Association who need financial assistance to treat diabetes and hypertension.
  • Provided 12 duffles of “retired” sports uniforms brought to the children of Senegal. These are a huge hit and very popular. We ask for clean and “gently-used” jerseys and shorts. They can be used for soccer, basketball or baseball teams there.
    Provide medical equipment and supplies as requested by our Dr. and Nurse friends in Senegal.

Senegal America Project Trips

Have you always wanted to go to Africa? More specifically, have you always wanted a guided personal or family oriented experience in Senegal? We have developed a professional development opportunity that is unique and quite exciting. We have the privilege, luxury, and security of having our very own Massamba Diop as our Artistic Director and Guide to his homeland. We invite you to come along with us and really experience Senegal.

Arts Are Essential, Inc. and Tony Vacca’s World Rhythms, coordinate the Senegal-America Project Projects and Visions and student cultural/educational trips to Senegal.

The Senegal-America Project, a program of Arts Are Essential, Inc., offers cultural/educational trips to Senegal for artists, educators, students, and others interested in understanding the Senegalese people and their cultures, and bringing us closer to acceptance.

Our Objectives

  • To support the arts and education of students, artists and educators on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • To promote and encourage growing awareness and acceptance.
  • Provide opportunies for artists to initiate or complete their unique projects.

— Trip participants engage in a variety of cultural experiences (dance classes, drumming classes, batik, lessons specific to the current traveler's interests), community and school visits, community service projects, trips to nature preserves, and meals at Massamba’s home.

— Some of our destinations include the Capital city of Dakar, the rural fishing village of Toubab Diallo, an incredible artist retreat on the West Coast, a horseback ride inland, and visits to several different types of communities with varying degrees of affluence and poverty. We go to Goree Island, an old slave-fortress, maintained by the government, that to this day still holds all the pain and sadness of the people who passed through the “door of no return.”

  • To create through concrete, specific support of time, energy and materials, a legacy of American students and adults helping to further the education of Senegalese students, educators, and artists.