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Cinema on wheels lights up Senegal by night and educates hundreds

Before their journey begins, Pathé and Abdoulaye pack up the Plan 4x4 with all the equipment for the movie night in a rural village in Senegal.

Before their journey begins, Pathé and Abdoulaye pack up the Plan 4x4 with all the equipment for the movie night in a rural village in Senegal.

Very few people living in Senegal, in the Plan-supported village of Bayti Rip know what a television looks like, and even fewer have actually seen one in action. So, when Plan’s cinema on wheels set out for the tiny village, an exciting night was in store.

By day it’s a Plan-operated vehicle used to visit our programs in Senegal but by night, the 4x4 vehicle turns into a portable movie theatre, capturing the attention of hundreds of new movie-goers every week. Since its launch, the Cinébus has travelled to more than 130 villages across Senegal, reaching thousands of people.

Driving the distance for your entertainment

The idea behind Plan’s Cinébus is to use cinema as a tool to educate and raise awareness among rural communities in Senegal. 15-minute films on topics like education, children’s rights and health are shown almost every night in a new community.

The films are screened in French and Wolof, the local language in Senegal. They’re carefully crafted to engage people of all ages, and highlight issues affecting rural villagers.

Magic on the big screen
After dark, hundreds of people in the village in Senegal crowd together to watch the 15-minute educational films.

After dark, hundreds of people in the village in Senegal crowd together to watch the 15-minute educational films.

Before their trip begins, Cinébus drivers, Pathé and Abdoulaye, pack their 4x4 with all the essentials for a successful movie night. A power generator, floodlights, a projector and a large folding movie screen squeeze into the Plan vehicle.

When Pathé and Abdoulaye arrive in Bayti Rip, they set up the outdoor cinema and wait for twilight. News travels fast in the small village of about 450 people. Eager crowds turn up early to claim their spots, ready for the show to begin.

Spellbound audiences watch the films, eyes transfixed on the screen. At the end of each screening, Pathé and Abdoulaye take questions from the audience and quiz keen spectators to be sure everyone understands.

A night to remember
Plan staff help facilitate information sessions with community members after the movie nights to support their development plans.

Plan staff help facilitate information sessions with community members after the movie nights to support their development plans.

The messages learned through the films are gradually transforming the attitudes and behaviours of communities battling poverty and illiteracy.

“Previously, we didn’t really understand the need to send our children to play group,” explains Palla, a local mother. “But since we saw a film about early childhood care and development, and after all the discussions we had amongst ourselves and with the experts, our ways have changed.”

In Bayti Rip, local mothers with the support of Plan, have set up an early childhood centre that provides group play and feeding services for young children. The centre is entirely managed by community members, which allows parents to work during the day and support their families financially.

On the road again

After the crowds have faded, Pathé and Abdoulaye pack-up and begin their commute back to the city, arriving home by 1 a.m. It’s a long journey, but well worth the ride.

Tomorrow, the cinema on wheels will set off on a new journey to help educate another community in the dark Senegal night.

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