Located at the far end of Petite Côte – a stretch of coast in Senegal - is a small fishing village known to locals as Joal-Fadiouth. Around the world, though, it’s known as Shell Island. Joal sits on the mainland and Fadiouth is an island just off the coast. The two are linked together by a narrow, 400-meter wooden bridge.
For centuries, villagers have harvested mollusks, gathering the flesh and discarding the shell. As a result, millions of shells are incorporated into every part of the island, from the streets to buildings and even the cemetery, which is entirely covered in shells. There are no vehicles on the island, and when you walk along the streets, there is a distinctive crunch under your feet.
But almost as unique as the village is its people, who live harmoniously together despite religious differences. The island is comprised of those from Christian and Muslim faiths, often in the same family. The people live and work together, helping one another build places to worship, celebrate weddings and baptisms, as well as bury loved ones.
People of both religions are buried in the same cemetery, signifying the peaceful coexistence between the two religions. People come together for every aspect of life, which is rare around the world.
That’s what I love most about Shell Island. It is a great example of what happens when we set aside our differences and choose to love one another as brothers and sisters. It is truly beautiful.