Senegal gained its independence from France in 1960 and its governing system is now a multi-party democracy. The southwest Casamance province has seen political unrest and violence, but since 2004 has remained relatively stable. More than 90% of the population is Muslim, but it is tolerant of other faiths. Even in its tolerance, the Senegalese communities are very reluctant to convert. Its economic activity is minimal, as it lacks the natural resources to support industry so it relies heavily on international aid and donations.
In a blog post, Fr. Ghislain Toussé describes the simultaneous struggles and successes of the rainy season in suburbs of Dakar. Senegal’s poor infrastructure sets the communities up for disaster when rains cause flooding. The floods can incapacitate the community by cutting off transportation and access to basic survival needs, but they also provide an opportunity for the missionaries to join in the struggles of their community. They are able to bring the hope of Christ into disheartening situations and provide aid wherever possible. Going through trials together helps the missionaries build trust with the people in their parish and grow closer to them.