Lailya Leach was our first Diasporic Soul-in-Residence. In addition to learning more about Senegalese culture and feeding her Diasporic Soul, she helped to develop and produce content for the our Well-Being Wednesdays series and Stopping the Clock for Those Now Gone: A Remembrance Ritual for Black Loss, Black Love and Black Life.
Lailya is a proud graduate of Florida A&M University School of Business & Industry. After graduating and working in corporate America for a few years, she decided to pursue teaching English and traveling abroad.
In addition to co-creating compelling visual content for Diasporic Soul during her residency, Lailya, who became like a daughter to us, had the opportunity to intimately be a part of our family and extended community here in Sebikotane as well as everywhere else we went during her time with us. This included traveling to Casamace and the Sine Saloum and spending time with our friends and family. Including our elder-mentors Ajamu and Rukiyah Dillahunt and their eldest daughter Dara.
She also enjoyed delicious Senegalese food, taste-tested Ta Ta Phyllis’ culinary creations, watered the plants on the Tangor Guest House balcony and sat on the Tangor Café terrace with Yaay (Eddy’s Mom). She enjoyed conversations with Ton Ton Eddy about her dreams and what she hoped she might heal and help her family. And, she worked in the café kitchen with Assiatou and Satta.
It is difficult to imagine something else, another way to live if you haven’t seen it; being here in Senegal allows me to do just that – to see the world differently and imagine a life for myself beyond what I ever thought possible.Lailya Leach|Diasporic Soul-in-Residence
Lailya’s creativity, curiosity and open heart as well as her visual acuity, HBCU-grad resourcefulness, talent for story-telling and video editing skills allowed us to co-create seven Well-Being Wednesdays sessions that were designed to provide resources for Diasporic Souls to stay grounded, centered and rooted during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic and lock downs in the US and beyond.
For which Lailya, of course, received high praise . . .