In Senegal, there’s a Wolof proverb that goes: Jangal nit ki napp moo gën di ko may xaalis. Translated, the proverb essentially says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Here at CREATE!, we believe in long-lasting benefits. We believe in teaching skills and helping communities utilize new knowledge, so that they can develop self-sufficiency and sustain themselves generation after generation.

This is one of the aspects that drew our partnership together with Vibrant Village Foundation (VVF). Since 2014, CREATE! has partnered with VVF, an organization that focuses on supporting NGOs that use a bottom up approach to providing solutions to poverty in developing countries around the world.

“I read [CREATE!’s] reports, I know the model works… but it’s not until I hear the voices of the women and I can talk to them and hear how it’s impacting their lives and what hopes they have for the future… that it really starts making sense for me.” – Marieme Daff, VVF Senior Program Officer

Marieme and Seck, our Country Director, enjoy the shade of the Papaya trees communities planted during our annual tree-planting campaign.

Vibrant Village Foundation Visits CREATE!

This year, we were delighted to host Marieme Daff, VVF’s Senior Program Officer, at our CREATE! project sites in Senegal. Having also traveled to our project sites in 2017, Marieme was excited to revisit the communities. She explained how she is amazed by the technology of the solar pumps and the variety of vegetables that villages are able to grow. “But most importantly,” she adds. “The energy of the women. They were extremely enthusiastic and well-organized.”

We believe that developing villages isn’t just about agriculture and new water systems, it’s about developing a mindset and building confidence in one’s own abilities. Marieme recalls how happy and proud the women were to share their stories. “They are setting an example for their daughters and sons for what women can do in those communities.”

Marieme strolls through a community garden site. In the future, these garden sites will be lush with seasonal vegetables year-round.

VSLA: A Highlight of the Visit

During her visit this year, Marieme traveled to nine communities and in one of them, had the chance to observe a Voluntary Savings & Lending Association (VSLA) meeting. With the training from CREATE!’s technicians, these VSLA groups were formed by the women in the village as a way to save money and make small loans to each other to cover personal and household costs. Having previously worked with a similar project, Marieme notes that VSLA is one of her favorite programs with CREATE!.

Although CREATE!’s technicians help women start these associations, VSLA groups are how the communities really become independent and self-sufficient because they have the money to be able to continue by themselves. “I really see it as the continuation of the intervention,” Marieme explains. “CREATE! comes in and establishes the garden and gives them initial support, but really, through the VSLA, that’s how [the women] can continue to support the group and sustain themselves.”

Marieme observes a VSLA meeting taking place in the village of Darou Diadji.

Coming Full Circle

Back in 2015, when VVF first partnered with CREATE!, the first communities to receive VVF’s support were Gagnick Mack, Darou Diadji, and Walo. Following our 5-year program, these three villages will be graduating next year in 2020 thanks to VVF’s support. “We are proud of what they accomplished,” Marieme says. “And wish them luck for the future!”

Since our partnership with VVF began, they have supported many more communities who will graduate in the future. We are thrilled and so grateful to be on this journey with VVF, aiming to eradicate poverty and create vibrant futures for villages across rural Senegal!


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