Relationships, trust, and understanding take time to cultivate and refine. Since beginning programming in the village of Thieneba in 2011, CREATE!’s team has worked alongside community members to implement and maintain a cooperative community garden. This past December during my visit to the field, I celebrated the beginning of a second gardening site in Thieneba.
Nearly 100 women from Thieneba attended the initial organizational meeting in December about the second garden site. The next day 80 committed community members arrived to prepare the site by installing fencing and clearing the site of weeds and debris. Now, just four months later, the cooperative group has grown to 183 members! The members are divided into four subgroups of about 45 people each and assigned to a specific section of the garden. The subgroups are further divided into morning and evening watering groups by day of the week, making the work very manageable with respect to the members’ other household commitments.
Cooperative Secretary, Ngone Diouf, greeted me warmly during a visit to Thieneba this week. Ngone and the women of the garden cooperative were excited to share the progress in Thieneba’s second garden site. After the group’s meeting Ngone led the group in a song. The theme of the song was that CREATE! had brought Thieneba a pirogue (a traditional Senegalese fishing boat), taken them out to water and taught them to fish. I was so touched, and proud. Thieneba has come such a long way; and they did it themselves!