The Maiden Factor Blog

Maiden is a Global Ambassador for the Empowerment of Girls through Education

Welcome to Dakar!

By Louise Brown

The welcome ceremony for Maiden was held at the DP World Dakar Port, and what a wonderful day it was! A special floating pontoon was built and beautifully wrapped in red carpet. Senegalese flag coloured balloons decorated the tent that was erected alongside the dock in the huge commercial port. While the cargo ships continued to be unloaded behind Maiden, Ambassadors and Government Ministers arrived.

To start the ceremony, 9 Senegalese girls from the charity that provides mentors for exceptional students, Shine to Lead, climbed onto the pontoon to receive the Baton of Hope from Maiden’s skipper Sharon. She explained the meaning of the baton and why we carry it around the world with us. Once this was completed, the crew came ashore and joined the guests.

The first to speak was Clarence Rodrigues, the CEO of DP World Dakar. He started his career at sea, and understands the trials and tribulations of ocean crossings. He has 2 daughters, who he hopes will become interested in sailing and follow in his footsteps.

Next to speak was Rajah Sy, an incredible woman who started a charity in Dakar called the Special Olympics. After having a daughter with Down Syndrome, she has worked her magic on these children who now compete internationally for their country winning huge hauls of medals every time.

The British ambassador, Juliette John was next. She spoke each sentence twice, once in French and then again in English. Her passion for all things Maiden was apparent. She has lived all around the world and has followed Maiden since 1989.

Sharon followed with an inspiring speech that had the audience cheering! She explained how sailing helped her advance in her education when her maths teacher made algebra about the boat. After that, she never looked back.

Now it was time for the Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Economy. He truly held the floor with his words. Although the entire speech was in french, we were left in no doubt that he too, had followed Maiden’s journey. He mentioned every stop on the tour saying how pleased he was that we had chosen to stop in Senegal.

We were then treated to a dance and drumming display by the Special Olympic athletes. The positive energy and goodwill given to the Maidens was second to none.

All of these great words were followed by photos of guests and the crew onboard Maiden, and reading the Messages of Hope from school children around the world to the children of Dakar.

It was such a wonderful atmosphere and the crew felt like celebrities!