“Jef Jel” is an expression in the Wolof language of Senegal that comes from the words “jef” meaning “effort” and “jel” meaning “take.” Together, “jef jel” translates to “give and take” or “the nature of your reward equals the nature of your effort.”
The Jef Jel Project supports the people of the Ndangane, a small rural village in Senegal, West Africa. Through the support of Jef Jel, the villagers will:
- live and survive within a familial social support system
- establish entrepreneurial activities in the agricultural, fishery, and artist industries
- have timely access to quality health care
- have the means to pursue education without jeopardizing the success of their income-generating activities or their progress toward financial independence.
Our hope is that the villagers will rely less on migrating to larger towns and cities for unpredictable lengths of time and unpredictable living conditions in pursuit of occasional money-making opportunities.
In 1995, Karim and Kellie Ndiaye started the Jef Jel project as a way to improve living conditions and economic opportunities in Ndangane, a small fishing and farming village within the region of Kaolack in Senegal, West Africa. A citizen of Ndangane, Karim was determined to give back to his community; as a result, he sought the quickest, easiest, and most effective way he could effect a positive change in his community. He was soon joined in the effort by Kellie, who had spent much of her career as a part of the Center for Disease Control supporting the HIV/AIDS prevention initiative in West Africa. The two soon married and became a driving force for positive change.
After moving back to the United States, Kellie and Karim welcomed a new member to their effort: Jennifer Broom, a former Peace Corps Volunteer. Jennifer’s experience and contacts made her a valuable asset and the three became the guiding force behind the Jef Jel project until Kellie’s death in 2007. Kellie’s untimely death only heightened Karim’s determination as Kellie became the inspiration for the Jef Jel Project.
Over the years, the history of the Jef Jel Project, and its progression, can be easily traced by the number of projects, the kind of projects, and their effectiveness. Designed to resolve any number of issues, initially, the projects were simple; however, as time went on, the projects became more involved and encompassed a variety of strategies to support, educate, and empower the community. With each project our confidence and experience grew exponentially. Our history, from 1995 to present day is etched in our growth and in the success of the Senegalese Community.