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Thursday 13 September 2012

First deployment reflections from Senegal
First deployment reflections from Senegal Photo taken by Rick Commiso showing flood damage in Dakar, Senegal, September 2012.

Heavy rains in Senegal have caused widespread flooding in the capital Dakar and other regions, claiming over 15 people's lives and leaving thousands of families homeless.

A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) has been assessing the need for emergency shelter in the West African country with assistance from the Senegal Red Cross. Working with Ed Owen (UK) and Rick Commiso (US), SRT member Sanchia Gallagher (UK) is on her first deployment:

'It has only been a few days into the deployment but already I feel like we have achieved a lot. We met with Ibrahima Taye Thome from the Red Cross who pointed us towards three schools, which were being used as temporary shelters for people who had to leave their homes because of the flooding. We visited two of the schools and it was obvious there was a need.

'Another site we went to on our first day was in the International Center for Foreign Trade of Senegal (CICES) in Dakar, where an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camp has been set up that is currently housing 1,100 people.

Sanchia Gallagher (far left) during her SRT nine-day training course in Cornwall, UK, 2011.

'We were lucky enough to meet the First Lady, Marième Faye Sall, and also members of her charity, Foundation Servir Le Senegal, who were running the camp. Subsequently, we arranged a meeting with them to discuss the setting up of camps for further displaced families and the possible distribution of ShelterBox disaster relief tents.

'We are currently waiting to see further affected regions in the country where we can assess if any more aid is needed.

'It's been a really interesting and diverse couple of days and I have learnt so much already. Seeing the affected areas and families on the first day is humbling and really brings it home to you what ShelterBox can do to help people and what a difference the tents can make. And on the flip side, we were advised that many families want to remain in their homes and neighbourhoods and therefore will continue to live in the flooded areas.

'It's been great working with Ed, who has deployed many times, as I am learning from his experiences and feel comfortable and confident in getting involved, asking many questions and also offering my own opinions and suggestions.

'Training into practice'

'It was exciting but daunting to get the call on Friday, but I'm happy to be able to put my training into practice and also hopefully we will be in a position next week where we could be setting up camps.

'Rick and Keri our interpreter have also been amazing and together we have really made a lot of progress in such a short amount of time.'

Floods continue to affect other parts of West Africa including Niger, where ShelterBox also has a Response Team working collaboratively with partners in the field to bring shelter to those families in need.
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