Seynabou Niang, 35, has been vice president of the Diender garden cooperative since her village first started working with CREATE! in 2010. Like many women in rural Senegal, Seynabou didn’t have a formal occupation before she began working with CREATE!, so it was difficult to support her family. She would spend her days gathering large loads of firewood, followed by many hours of cooking the family meal over an open fire. Some days she might make the long trek to the market in Gossas on foot, by donkey cart, or riding on the back of a motorcycle to buy vegetables or other ingredients shipped in from abroad.
“I used to eat vegetables without knowing where they were grown,” says Seynabou, “but since I started working with CREATE! I have the ability to grow vegetables myself.” Even better, she adds, “Our children no longer suffer from malnutrition because they have the possibility to eat fresh vegetables every day.”
In fact, Seynabou notes that she often has excess vegetables from the garden that she sells on the market in Gossas. She invests her profits in her Voluntary Savings and Lending Association (VSLA) group, and earns interest on her savings.
With the ability to grow her own food, save her own money, and save firewood and time by cooking on her improved cookstove that she built with training from CREATE!’s field technicians, Seynabou reports that she has seen her quality of life greatly improve. Over the past eight years, women in her community have been working to continue to increase their capacity for sustainability and self-sufficiency, under her steady leadership as vice president of the Diender garden cooperative.
“For many years we have also been planting trees in the village through CREATE!’s tree planting campaign,” she explains. “In the past, we didn’t have any green space in dry season but now we have a big community garden site full of cashew trees and a nice microclimate inside.”
Success stories like Seynabou’s really go to show how deeply peoples’ lives can be affected through training and empowerment at the village level. Consider helping more women like Seynabou by donating to CREATE! today!