Kim Hall ’08 brings basketball to Senegal with the Peace Corps

 

Kim Hall ’08 brings basketball to Senegal with the Peace Corps

Posted by Student Worker in News Archive 11 Aug 2011

Basketball is a big deal in central Kentucky — and Kim Hall ’08 is doing her best to make it a big deal in Senegal as well.

Hall, stationed in the Louga region of Senegal with the Peace Corps, is heading up a project that will raise money to build three regulation-size basketball courts in the village where she works and the surrounding vicinity. The aim of the project is to give the girls Hall teaches an escape from everyday life.

“While working with my group, I began to realize that there are not a lot of activities available for girls outside of the home. Young girls spend their day pounding grains, cooking and going to school, and as far as outdoor recreation goes, soccer is pretty much the only sport available. Girls are often discouraged from playing,” Hall says. “After discussing this with fellow volunteers in the area and our local counterparts, we decided to bring basketball to our villages.”

Building basketball courts in these villages will be a challenge in many senses — which is why Hall and her fellow volunteers hope people across the world will donate directly to the project at the Peace Corps website.

“The total amount requested may seem a little daunting, but an NBA affiliate in Senegal has agreed to pay half of the total costs. Thus, every single donation, no matter the amount, will really help us towards reaching our ultimate goal,” Hall says.

Once construction of the courts is complete, Hall wants to put them to good use immediately.

“We plan to start basketball clubs in our respective villages to teach children the basics of basketball,” she says. “Hopefully, we will introduce a sport that will appeal to young girls, building confidence and helping to break down the confines of gender inequality.”

Working with the Peace Corps has been one of Hall’s lifelong dreams. After working as an Americorps Volunteer in New Mexico post-graduation, Hall came to the village of Diagaly in Senegal for a two-year commitment and has embraced the opportunity to make connections with the community.

“The most rewarding part of this whole experience has been getting to know all kinds of amazing people. I live in a compound with a family who has adopted me as one of their own. They gave their family name and refer to me as their sister, daughter and cousin,” she says. “These people have really become my support system – my family.”

Eventually, the logistics of building basketball courts will be passed on to leaders in the community. But for now, Hall and her fellow Peace Corps volunteers remain completely immersed in and dedicated to the initiative.

“Because we live and work in our villages for over two years, we are completely involved in our projects, from conception to fruition,” Hall says. “All of our work is ultimately community-driven, but we play a role in every single aspect of the project. We will be there every step of the way to make sure the project runs as smoothly as possible.”

During Hall’s time in Senegal, she has been an active part of her community. Along with the basketball initiative, she has also volunteered with an environmental education program in her village.

“The majority of my work thus far has involved creating various women’s gardens in the area in order to increase food security and improve nutritional health in the village. I also work on pressing health issues in my community such as AIDS and malaria,” she says. “My side projects include teaching English, leading a women’s group, planting as many trees as possible and working on gender development and girl’s empowerment issues.”

Hall acknowledges that her time at Centre prepared her for living and working in Senegal.

“The first time I left the country was through a CentreTerm trip to Barbados my sophomore year. I also had the opportunity to study abroad again my junior and senior years, helping to build my passion for traveling and getting to know different cultures,” she says. “My classes and extracurriculars at Centre, especially the Bonner Program, equipped me with the experiences to put me on the right track for my work with Peace Corps and towards my future career goals.”

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