Youtube: Forest Festival, Casamance, Senegal, West Africa

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VIDEOGRAPHY © JASON FLORIO AND HELEN JONES-FLORIO . CLICK HERE OR ABOVE IMAGE TO VIEW FOOTAGE

 

Late last year, Jason Florio and I traveled the short distance, south, across the border from our home in The Gambia, into the Casamance region of Senegal, West Africa – on assignment for a local NGO, Concern Universal; who we had worked with on previous projects.  The purpose of the assignment was to document a celebratory ‘Festival des Forêt‘, taking place in the village of Koudioubé; a juddering (hold-onto-something-fixed-down-and-mind-your-head-whilst-you’re-at-it) 20 minute drive down a deeply rutted ‘road’, through the bush – which, we were told by the driver, is often  impassible during a heavy rainy season – from the small Senegalese border town of Diouloulou.

The festival was particularly important, in the fact that it brought people together, from neighbouring communities whereas previously, due to a 30 year old civil war, they had been too afraid to mix and gather, in large numbers.

The 'Cumpo' is warming up... Casamance, Senegal
Jason Florio photographs the ‘Kumpo’ – traditional masquerade – festival des forêts, Casamance, Senegal. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

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Helen Jones-Florio: “These bundles are seriously ‘acouliatah’ (heavy)!”  – image © Jason Florio  

 

We were also accompanied by our friend, and adroit writer, Louise Hunt, who was covering the story for The Guardian:

We have been dancing all night together. In the past, people did not even attend funerals in neighbouring villages,” says a community leader, Bakari Jallou.

Casamance is Senegal’s most ethnically diverse region, separated from the rest of the west African country by Gambia. But it is not ethnic or even religious differences that have divided people for decades, it is whether they are pro-government or support a separatist movement to become an independent state.

The 30-year civil war, Africa’s longest-running conflict, has killed thousands and displaced many more. Senegal’s extensive hardwood forests were battlegrounds for the rebel Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) and the army.’ Louise Hunt for The Guardian – read the entire feature here.

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Helen Jones-Florio

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Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio working for Concern Universal NGO – Koudioubé forest, Casamance, Senegal

 

The Gambia, West Africa – paying the price for being Ebola free

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Image © Helen Jones – Jinack Island, taken whilst walking the coastline of Gambia, with Jason Florio

 

Gambians, and local businesses, are hurting… and it’s not going to get better any time soon. Which is why I keep spouting on, annoyingly so perhaps, about Ebola-free Gambia! The beaches are deserted, the juice bars are abandoned, hotels and lodges are no where near the to capacity they should be by now (and need to be, if they are to survive), the bars and restaurants are empty; taxi drivers sit around in the shade all day and night, grateful for any trade they can get; the craft markets are too quiet – all of these places are places of work, for many, many Gambians, and business owners alike. All just waiting for the tourists to come...’ Helen Jones-Florio – read more here

Big thanks to NGO, Concern Universal, for featuring one of my recent blog posts on their site.

Helen Jones-Florio

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HJF at the Koudioubé Festival des Forêts, Casamance, Senegal, for Concern Universal – image © Jason Florio

 

Photo of the Day: Women of Community-led Total Sanitation, Nigeria

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Women who have been involved with Community-led Total Sanitation. Image ©Jason Florio for Concern Universal

 

In Nigeria, Concern Universal‘s approach to improving rural sanitation and hygiene has led to the emergence of inspiring women leaders.

Our approach, known as Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS), creates an environment where entire communities are mobilized to end open defecation, and in the process, opens the door for women to become powerful agents of change‘ CU

Read more about the creative and inspiring community projects that NGO, Concern Universal, are helping to facilitate in Nigeria, and many other parts of the world, you can check out their website.

To see more of Jason Florios images, please visit floriophoto.com.