A warm welcome for the Carluccio's team in Matam, Senegal

Carluccio's Chairman's Senegal Field Diary (1/3)

Last month saw Carluccio’s Chairman Simon Kossoff visit our programmes in Senegal to mark the fact that they’ve raised a tremendous 1.5 million towards our programmes worldwide. 

By Simon Kossoff

May 3 2016

Travelling

It’s day one for Simon visiting Senegal in West Africa...

It’s Monday evening and we are finally in Matam on the northern border of Senegal. This is where Action Against Hunger run one nutrition project that we fund.

It feels like we have been on the road for days…. which is probably because we have!

We left London early on Sunday morning after a great breakfast at Carluccio’s in Terminal 4 at Heathrow. The short hop to Paris, followed by four hours at Charles De Gaulle Airport. Then a further six hours to Dakar, the Senegalese capital. By the time we had queued an hour and a half in stifling heat to have our passports stamped it was late and we headed through the chaos of Dakar to our hotel.

Today's challenge is the drive from Dakar, facing the ocean at the western most tip of Africa, on desperate roads to Matam at the eastern border with Mauritania. We are promised nine hours of travel and forty degree temperatures when we arrive.

Dakar is like every other African city I have visited. A mixed up ex colonial mess, chaotic, riven deep with inequality, steaming hot and utterly vibrant.

Dust Roads

The bumper to bumper city traffic gives way to a tarmac dual carriageway and then dust road. The clay brick buildings and lush Savanna vegetation replaced by huts and parched scrubland. Our visit coincides with the dry season. It hasn't rained since November and won't for another three months; dust, endless dust and the occasional animal carcass at the side of the road reinforcing the angry conditions.

Lunch is a truck stop outside Louga regional town. Roast chicken, a perfectly moulded rice mound and yassa, a spicy shredded and pickled onion relish. Some have baked fish but the heat of this inland area puts me off and my chicken is tasty. The talk is of climate change moving so quickly that whole new areas are brought under the threat of famine each year.

The minibus Simon travelled in, along with Carluccio's colleagues, and Action Against Hunger's Executive Director Jean-Michel Grand. Credit: Richard Leeney for Action Against Hunger

We have raised over £1.5m for Action Against Hunger by adding 50p to every Penne Giardinera we sell. Tomorrow I am expected to buy the ingredients in a village market and cook it with the "mamans lumieres", the matriarchs of the village who work with the charity to support good nutritional practices. It's contrived for the videographer of course but maybe can help to bring the work we are doing to life for our guests and our team.

The minibus is tiring and so hot and the road is a disaster.

We still have four hours to go ...

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All Photos: Richard Leeney for Action Against Hunger