Senegal: sensory awareness day on vegetable-themed culinary activities for street children

The Village Pilote association, a Franco-Senegalese NGO based in Senegal, works to reintegrate street children aged from 3 to 15 years old, by proposing agricultural and culinary activities for them.

Over the last 20 years, Village Pilote has put together a comprehensive program to encourage the safety, protection and reintegration of street children involved in begging, prostitution or drug trafficking. Among other things, this program involves setting up market gardening activities developed to meet the food requirements of youngsters who are often suffering from malnutrition.

It has 3 specific objectives:

  • To support the children with organic market gardening activities enabling them to rediscover the land and nature.
  • To diversify the type of vegetables grown in the center by introducing at least four new local vegetables.
  • To increase the culinary skills of these youngsters, while introducing them to new tastes and flavors by proposing fun activities involving new vegetables.

For this last objective, 250 children and teenagers took part in a taste-themed workshop entitled “des sens en éveil à Village pilote !” (stimulate your senses at Village pilote). This activity day was organized to teach children to recognize vegetables by sight and by taste (by tasting the same vegetables raw and then cooked). In this way, the youngsters were able to discover vegetables about which they knew nothing or very little, such as the beetroot or pepper. At the end of the different workshops, the organizers noted that overall the youngsters could visually recognize the vegetables but had more difficulty recognizing the vegetables when cooked, particularly the carrot, even though this is a vegetable widely used in Senegalese cooking!

This activity day also gave the children an opportunity to learn to describe the tastes and flavors of food and to add some new words to their vocabulary.

This project was supported by the Louis Bonduelle Foundation during the Summer 2015 call for proposals.