Meet Seynabou Konte, a community member in Mboss who is living sustainably in her rural village. From her improved cookstove to her year-round garden, Seynabou has been learning vital skills from CREATE!’s technicians so that she can live and work both comfortably and sustainably in her rural community.
On this sunny afternoon, Seynabou takes the time to water her okra plants in the community garden. These unique vegetables can be found in various dishes throughout Senegalese culture and are renown for the edible ‘goo’ that the seed pods produce. When they are ready to be harvested, Seynabou will collect the okra to cook in meals for her family of six. Since her village of Mboss partnered with CREATE! in 2017, Seynabou has been using a sustainable cookstove to prepare her family’s meals. She says it’s much safer than the previous open fires she used to cook over since many of her village’s huts are made from straw. They are flammable and a danger with all the open cooking fires that families use.
Seynabou’s cookstove saves her time and money. Her cookstove is built with dried clay-sand walls. There is an opening for sticks as well as a small upper opening to let smoke out. Seynabou says she only needs to use two pieces of wood to keep the fire going long enough to cook one meal. Whereas before she was using numerous pieces. Because she uses so little firewood now, Seynabou doesn’t buy it from the market anymore and now collects free pieces of wood from the nearby forest floor. “With the cookstove I gain more time because it cooks very quickly, and I don’t need to stay in the kitchen”. Now that Seynabou has more time, she can invest her time into tending her sustainable community garden and producing vegetables for her family year-round.
With more time to tend to her garden, Seynabou can now save money on fresh vegetables. Like the firewood, Seynabou used to purchase vegetables from the Gossas market. A market outside of her community where merchants come from multiple regions across Senegal to sell their products at a high price. Now that she has consistent training from CREATE!’s technicians, Seynabou is able to maintain a garden year-round and no longer purchases vegetables. She says, “I’m learning garden techniques from technicians, so I will be able to manage my own garden after graduation”.
Now that Seynabou is gardening regularly, she has a means of income in her community by selling her extra produce. Seynabou is part of CREATE!’s Volunteer Savings and Lending Program (VSLA). She says that before this program opened in her community, it was hard for her to save money and take out a loan since the interest rates were so high. “With the old saving, I couldn’t gain a lot because of interest. With the VSLA the interest comes back to us.” Instead of the interest being paid to an external money lender, the interest that borrowers pay in the VSLA program goes back into the VSLA fund that people borrow from. This increases the value of each member’s share.
Seynabou says she is thankful for the work CREATE! has done in her community and the vital skills she is learning to support her family, “CREATE! is helping rural communities develop themselves because we all have the means we need for working.”
Success stories like Seynabou’s really go to show how deeply people’s lives can be affected through training and empowerment at the village level. Consider helping more women like Seynabou by donating to CREATE! today!