A History of our Organization and our Board
Someone wise and mystical once said that when you look over long years of events, all those illogical events and coincidences and serendipities take shape, and you see that it could never have turned out any other way.
Judy Beggs (Executive Director) succumbing to a lifelong and unfulfilled wanderlust, shut down her American life and her law practice of 16 years and joined the Peace Corps. September of 1990 found her assigned to Guéoul where she joined the family of Fatou Sylla, grandmother with 6 of her grandkids living with her. Judy co-parented those kids, while working on her Rural Health Education project and working on her Wolof and French.
John Montaña (Now President of the Board of Directors) and Judy met in 1993, after her PC tour was completed. He had just finished law school, and the two of them collaborated on several legal matters.
In 2005, the day finally came for the Grand Tour of Guéoul. John, Judy and 2 others set off to visit. During the course of the stay in Guéoul, John discovered that Judy was sending a bit of money to Guéoul from time to time to keep a couple of Fatou’s granddaughters in school. John has a brash and effective way about him. He said, “Let’s keep a bunch of them in school!” The conversations during that visit were all about how to make that happen.
The first class of scholarshipped girls (boursieres) was chosen out of the class of 2004-05. These girls were already in middle school, so their families had a commitment to girls’ education. A selection process was chosen for the next school year. Twelve girls entering first grade have been chosen for each the last 10 years. Two of these girls will take the baccalaureate (BAC) exam in July 2017.
The story has continued with developing a Denver-based Board of Directors. This dedicated and inspired group has continued to grow the scholarship program and create valuable complementary programs to benefit the girls and the community of Guéoul. Want to join our Board of Directors? Come sit in on our meetings and get to know us. Call 303 788 1716 for meeting dates.
In 2009, the donation of used computers from BKD LLC, launched the activities that resulted in a Rotary Global Grant to ship some 60 Rotary Club renovated computers to Guéoul. It was like sending computers to Thomas Jefferson – the sub-Saharan rural community had no concept of what they were. The first students amused themselves by plucking the keys off the keyboards. Introduction to internet classes were given to more than 2000 students and 200 adults.
Noos Club (fun club) was launched around 2010, with the concept of bringing lively and creative activities to kids in the guise of a class. Coloring books, songs, stories, art projects – the kids savored it all. By about 2013, we realized that our boursieres were from the lowest socio-economic class, and on average, they under-performed their peers. The program evolved into academic enhancement classes. In 2014, the first 8-week summer school was launched.
In 2011, in a meeting with the president of University Gaston Berger (UGB), the best university in Sénégal, we discovered a common goal. We agreed to collaborate on the establishment of a branch university at Guéoul. Construction started summer 2015, with the first class scheduled for next year..
The universities in Sénégal are now requiring “master’s level competency” in English. Now, with collaborations from several UGB professors, the summer school 2016 will include a conversational English total immersion program, the first of its kind in Sénégal.
A donation to Books for Africa has launched a project that will culminate in a container shipment of new books in English and French.
A Conseil de Supervision (Board of Directors) of the Guéoul activities was established in 2012 and became more and more informed and effective in the following years. They are now provide oversight and management of the Summer School as of summer 2016. A new Directeur General of Sénégal activities was hired in 2016 to provide management of existing programs and to develop new ones.