Sharing emotions and building cooperation off the coast of Guinea-Bissau
During a reconnaissance trip to the Bissagos islands, PONANT forged ties with local communities, leading to the PONANT Foundation contributing to financing the reconstruction of a school. PONANT employees Juliette and Mathilde travelled to the archipelago to meet the local people. We look back at this emotional experience in words and pictures.
A warm welcome
“When we arrived, the children ran up to us one by one, smiling broadly and wanting to hold our hands. The whole village took us to the the Mantchacad school, rebuilt thanks to PONANT. You can see the pride in their eyes, it was really moving! This is where we’ll be spending the next few days, with around a hundred children before their lessons start officially.”
“We launch the t-shirt personalisation workshop with the older children. They all start off quite timidly, by writing their names. Then we show them the textile paint and they set about creating their designs made up of multicoloured prints, followed by their houses, their school, the flag of Guinea-Bissau, and more. The results are really artistic, and they are very proud of their work!”
A salutary lesson
“The aim of this morning’s lesson is to teach the children about the health impact of defecating outside. The teachers use pictures and words to explain the journey of a fly to the children, who seem to understand that a suitable facility or, failing that, a hole that can be covered, will prevent flies from infecting their water and food.”
Working after school
“After a busy day, it’s time to head back to our little island. We bring back five village children, dropping them off by boat near the rice fields. After school, the children join the adults in the rice fields to chase away the village weaver birds that eat their crops. This saved them a walk of over an hour from the village with all their equipment for the night.”
A biodiversity reserve
“On the island of Orango, we set off through the marshland of the national park, in search of hippos, to no avail. But we discovered a completely different landscape: a lush and wild savannah with grasses taller than us, and here and there swamps inhabited by crocodiles, snakes, birds and hippos when the water level is a little lower.”
A protected island
“At Poilão, we bivouac in the intense heat and discover the margins of this sacred, uninhabited island whose interior is off-limits to visitors.”
A sanctuary for sea turtles
“On Poilão island, every night from June to November, the eggs of hundreds of sea turtles of different species are laid and subsequently hatch. The night we were there, 89 turtles laid their eggs, revealing a morning landscape of nests in huge craters. The thousands of tiny paw prints gave us an idea of how many baby turtles had made their way to the sea.”
Lessons for young and old
“Today, we’re going to the school to affix the PONANT Foundation plaque. When we arrive, the atmosphere is studious, and the pupils are concentrating hard. Lessons have well and truly begun! In Sala 1, children are studying the structure of a family by drawing their own. In Sala 2, they are working on mathematics. In Sala 3, the little ones are learning to write.”
Last day with the children of Anipoc
“It’s time to say goodbye. We’re sad, of course, but also happy to have seen the pride of these children, who know how lucky they are to have this new school where they can learn, grow and open their minds to the world. We are also grateful to have shared so many things with them.
Tchau tchau Anipoc, Te logu. (Goodbye Anipoc, see you soon.)”
Back in Marseille, Juliette recalls her encounter with the Bijogo people:
Photos credits : ©PONANT-M. Vanneron / J. His.
PONANT takes you there
Meet the people at the ends of the earth