Mayor Robert Poythress returned safe last week from a tour of schools in the West African country of Guinea-Bissau. The former Portuguese colony lies between Senegal to the north and Guinea to the south.
One of the poorest countries in Africa, Guinea-Bissau has a per-capita gross domestic product among the lowest in the world. Its only profitable exports are cashews and peanuts. The official language is Portuguese, but that is only spoken by 14 percent of the people. The remainder speak a creole language or their native African languages. The main belief systems are traditional African religions and Islam. A minority follow Christianity.
It is the work of the Christian minority that prompted Poythress, and a few others from Fresno, to donate funds to the West African Vocational School (WAVS) and then travel for 37 hours to the village of Canchungo to meet the teachers and students.
Arriving in Dakar on the coast of Senegal, Poythress and the group boarded one more, twin-engine propeller flight that landed them in Guinea-Bissau. They passed through customs and inspections from police and the military...