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Betty Hautbout

Betty Hautbout

Director, Ashinaga Senegal

I moved to Senegal when I was finishing up my Master studies and still writing my dissertation. At that time, I would have never guessed that an internship application would have brought me where I am now. My first encounter with Ashinaga Senegal was at the very beginning of the organization’s establishment in Dakar, when a lot was yet to be built. But also, when everything was possible. I think this played a big role in building my interest and passion in Ashinaga’s mission. The objectives were clear, ambitious, close to my heart, but the way to achieve them was to yet be paved and was full of opportunities. One step at a time, we created the basis of the Ashinaga Senegal office, designed and implemented diverse programmes, and brought amazing people together. Looking back I eventually think that it’s not that surprising that a 4-month internship turned into a long professional experience. Indeed, Ashinaga allowed me to combine a great number of things I value: people, mentoring and equal access to opportunities. I just wasn’t that sure about it when I was 22 years old.

 

If you are born in a family of only farmers, the dreams you nurture for your future life will probably stay very close to the farm. What Ashinaga does is widen this range of possibilities through access to education and personalized support. This is what is at the core of my motivation. Always push, criticize, question students’ statements for them to open unknown doors, create new visions and become agents of change. Equally, they push me beyond my limits and to be a better person every day because, despite their young ages, they are full of resilience and wisdom. Life hasn’t always been easy with them. Education is a great tool to challenge determinism and Ashinaga has the power to provide this tool. Along with the Ashinaga Senegal team, we are constantly looking at the practicality of this tool: how do we improve the support we provide to the students? What innovative ways do we have to convey knowledge and what ideas can we use? We are also looking closely at what is happening around us, to use the best resources available and partner with specialists on the ground. A great mixture of challenges that we tackle every day!

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