The solidarity project
The mission of Begue Lodge is :
- to provide a comfortable living experience on a secluded island in harmony with the natural environment
- to encourage awareness of the impact of our actions on energy, water and waste in our daily lives, demonstrating how to live well while preserving resources and the environment
- to help the local populations to have a better future by guaranteeing them health protection, the possibility to send their children to school, to have a roof over their heads and food every day…
- to help the populations of the Saloum Delta to set up economic activities that respect, value and protect the natural environment and its resources by facilitating respectful and meaningful exchanges between guests and local populations whose culture and traditions are threatened by climate change and modern socio-economic pressures.
- Begue Lodge is a non-profit eco-lodge developed in partnership with local residents.
- Ownership and operation will be transferred to local partners as the program evolves to provide sustainable economic benefits to local residents. Begue Lodge works in close partnership with Fii Laa Tekkee, a French humanitarian and solidarity organization that develops and supports responsible tourism, environmental protection and local economic development in this remarkable but fragile region (fiilaatekkee).
To tell you our story, I must use the first person singular, because at the beginning, it is indeed my story that it is about. Far be it from me to put myself in the spotlight, but every project always starts with someone, so I have to reveal myself a little.
As a professional photographer for more than thirty years, I have always had the urge to go and meet others, all over the world. Curiosity being my main driving force, I have gradually cultivated respect for the differences of other cultures. I went to Senegal for the first time in 2012 and then in 2013 to participate in a storytelling festival (Festiparoles).
During my first stay, I met Malick and Poulo, in Dionewar. In 2018, I decided to return to see them. At that time, I was inexorably sinking into solastalgia, I was losing hope in the face of climate change, and all that it will generate. This fatalism is however very far from my nature.
As soon as I arrived, it became obvious to me that I had to stop waiting on others for things to change, I had to do my part like the hummingbird, to stop being only the witness of this world which is consuming itself, generating more and more important migratory flows, a destruction of our eco-systems and a growing precariousness.
With this travel experience acquired throughout my years of itinerancy, I found in Dionewar a concentrate of all that I had liked before, first of all people rich in their humanity, then a place outside of the current tourist paths, where nature, beauty and calmness harmonize to perfection.
Tired of our consumerist conceptions, I decided to take the risk of sharing my savings with my friends, to build a project together that would allow them and other people in the village to face the future more serenely. The “us” was born, we were going to undertake this adventure together, in Wolof, it is called “Niokobok”.
Since then, Alimatou, Astou, Astousarr and Aïssatou have joined us in the project. For the financing, friends joined me: Sophie and Bernard, Xavier and Claire, Manu and Shireen, Jeff and Erika, and Maria. The “we” can now be combined with you, so that you too can do your part, first for you by contributing to this wonderful human adventure and for them, who I assure you will bring you so much.
I could write pages and pages on all the reasons that motivate this project, but I prefer to let you discover them by yourself, it is an integral part of this adventure.
– January 2019, acquisition of the land and realization of the plans
– May-June 2019 beginning of the works, implantations of 4 huts, foundations and elevation of the walls realized with the sand extracted from the foundations mixed with cement in low dose to make breeze blocks, solution used in the region because there is no other raw material on the spot.
– December-January 2019/20 realization of the straw roofs, installation of the door and window frames, realization of the wastewater networks and installation of the pits.
– October 2021 realization of the exterior lime coatings, installation of the photovoltaic production, interior masonry finishing.
– February-March 2022 realization of the water supply and distribution network, finishing and interior fittings
March 18, 2022, we are ready! ….well, almost 😉
Our rates are not the lowest for many reasons:
-Our goal is to guarantee for each of our employees the average Senegalese salary, i.e. 175 Euros/month (115 000 cfa)
-We guarantee a health insurance for all the people who work closely or remotely with the Begue
-We have built the Begue with qualified craftsmen, paying them what they are worth
-We have equipped the Begue with everything you will need on site for your comfort, within the limits of ecological reasonableness
-We have decorated the Begue by buying from local artists, and you will be able to buy all these elements because we also wish to stimulate their activity
-Our lifespan may be relatively short, as the sea is advancing, and we only have a few years to participate in projects to limit coastal erosion
Reaching the goal of zero single-use plastic
-Participate in municipal investment efforts by collecting the tourist tax