Meet Rokhy Diouf, a dynamic and hardworking mother of four in the village of Back Samba Dior. Before Back Samba Dior got involved with CREATE!’s development programs, Rokhy had to leave the village to find work in Senegal’s capital. “I used to go to Dakar for work, but now I am working in the village, and I have the opportunity to take care of my family,” she tells us. Today, Rokhy and other women in Back Samba Dior can make a living from their village. They also have the opportunity to earn credit and take out microloans within the community for the first time to support their families.
Generating Income from the Village
By cultivating a year-round community garden, Rokhy and other women in Back Samba Dior ensure food security for their families. Every morning at sunrise, Rokhy leaves her hut carrying her youngest child on her back and joins the other women in the community garden. Throughout the day, they work together to clear weeds, water crops, plant seedlings and plan future activities. As the sun lowers and temperatures cool off in the evening, Rokhy walks with the group of women back into the village, carrying large baskets of fresh vegetables. “Before, I couldn’t find a lot of vegetables in the village because there was no market. I had to go to Guinguineo to buy produce,” Rokhy recalls. “Now, we eat a lot of vegetables every day. My children like the dishes I cook with the fresh vegetables.”
The community garden also serves as a reliable source of income year-round because Rokhy and other community members can sell the extra vegetables in the market or to surrounding villages. This provides a regular source of income for families in Back Samba Dior as well as food security for neighboring communities.
VSLAs Provide Microloans
Now that Rokhy and other women in Back Samba Dior are generating income, what new opportunities have formed? Before, an external money-lending association was the only way that Rokhy had a chance to take out loans and earn credit. However, through CREATE!’s programs, the women in Back Samba Dior have created their own Voluntary Savings & Lending Association (VSLA). VSLA’s provide opportunities such as saving and earning credit in the village as well as taking out microloans. The interest goes back into the community savings instead of to an external organization so members can have more financial freedom.
Rokhy describes how it was difficult for her husband to support the family alone, financially, and that she wanted to help but also needed to take care of her four children. “Before I couldn’t save money in the village and it was very difficult to get credit,” Rokhy explains. “With the VSLA I have the possibility to save money and take out microloans to support my family.”
VSLA’s are led by women in the community and include all levels of literacy so everyone can participate. Rokhy and the other women meet once a week outside the community garden. Here members carry out duties such as depositing their savings and collectively making decisions on microloan disbursement. All activities are carried out in full view of the entire association, building trust, and creating transparency among members.
While women are working towards the individual success of their families, programs like community gardening and VSLAs collectively support the prosperity of the entire community. “The success of the village is very important to me,” Rokhy tells us. “I advise [the other women] to work hard for themselves and for their children’s future.” When asked about her hopes for the future, Rokhy says, “I’m taking care of my family now, and I wish they will take care of me when I am old.”
Stories like Rokhy’s really go to show how deeply people’s lives can be effected through training and empowerment at the village level. This is the kind of success we want for women across all of our partner communities in rural Senegal. Consider helping more women like Rokhy by donating to CREATE! today.