When CREATE! first started 10 years ago, we never imagined the kind of challenges that Senegal and the world would be facing today in 2020. However, our programs acted as a blueprint of success for our partner communities to build resilience during one of the most challenging years yet. The solar-powered water pumping systems that provide clean water for drinking and gardening now support sanitation practices as well. During the initial phase of the restrictions that closed the regional markets, our partner communities gardens served as a makeshift market for the neighboring villages.

We see 2021 as an opportunity to continue to put into action the lessons learned from the challenges in 2020. We would like to take this time to reflect upon some of the successes and lessons learned from this year made possible thanks to your generosity and our team’s dedication to CREATE!’s mission.

2020 Highlights:

  • Celebrated 10 Years
  • CREATE! Hosted an Improved Cookstove Training in The Gambia
  • Rotary Club Visited Senegal
  • Trained Communities on COVID-19 Safety Measures
  • CREATE! Received Addax & Oryx Grant
  • Supported the Acronis Cyber Foundation School Project
  • Successfully Completed Another One Day’s Wages Campaign
  • Food for Thought: Explored New Ideas to Transform Food Systems in Senegal with Pierre Thiam & Pape Gaye

Celebrated 10 Years

Over 10 years ago, founder Barry Wheeler, COO Louise Ruhr, and Ibrahima Kebe, CREATE!’s first Country Director in Senegal, developed the idea for CREATE! – The Center for Renewable Energy and Appropriate Technology for the Environment. They envisioned a way to empower Senegalese women and families in rural communities to use sustainable, reliable, renewable technology and transform their lives for generations to come. Fast forward 10 years and CREATE! has partnered with a total of 18 communities and is continuing to expand each year. Our founders’ sustainable self-sufficiency model has carried us through 2020 by putting community knowledge and needs at the forefront of our projects.

We also owe a great deal of gratitude to our supporters both long-term and new. Over the last 10 years, your donations have propelled us to expand programs, reach greater heights, challenge and develop our model, and more. With your support, we are looking ahead to successful decades at CREATE!. To show our appreciation, we created 10 celebratory activities for our donors to join in. These 10th-anniversary activities will continue into 2021 and you’re invited to celebrate with us!

CREATE! Hosted an Improved Cookstove Training in The Gambia

In January 2020, our team traveled to The Gambia to host CREATE!‘s first improved cookstove training outside of Senegal. Thanks to CREATE! Board Member Mary-Kay Miller, CREATE! was connected with a Gambian NGO called Future for Farato. Mary-Kay had previously been introduced to one of Future for Farato’s Founders, Ellen McGill. Mary-Kay recalled, “One of the things that Ellen mentioned was that women and children in Farato sometimes had issues with burns and other health or convenience-related problems due to cooking on open fires. So, I gave her the [CREATE!] improved cookstove pamphlet.”

A few years later, CREATE! and Future for Farato reconnected and decided to host an improved cookstove training in The Gambia. The training was a huge success! “The stove is a brilliant idea – easy, free and effective,” Ellen told us. “We were at Mama Janko’s house two days after your [CREATE!’s] visit. She had used the stove for the first time the night before and was beyond delighted with the small amount of wood she had burned for dinner. All the women plan to build a stove, may the word spread to the whole area!”


CREATE! Country Director, Omar Ndiaye Seck, and CREATE! Field Coordinator, Amadou Diouf, traveled to The Gambia mid-January this year to host CREATE!’s first improved cookstove training in a new country and expand our alliance for clean cookstoves.

Rotary Club Visited Senegal

During the first week of March, Rotarians Fred Auch and David Laub were welcomed to Senegal by the community of Mbossedji! For the community members led by President Diop, this was a proud moment, a moment for them to share their success story with Rotary. Rotary International, Bellevue Rotary Club, Washington, USA and the Rotary Club Dakar Millénium, Senegal, have been consistently supporting and sponsoring CREATE!‘s projects with Mbossedji.

Both Fred and David were impressed by the enthusiasm and the initiative of the women who now have the hope to realize their vision for self-development. “Seeing the evolution of the self-confidence of the women from when a village starts on the program, to when it graduates 5 years later is impressive,” Fred Auch states. As the community members of Mbossedji mentioned many times, they are grateful to CREATE! and Rotary for supporting them in their efforts to have clean water and fresh vegetables available throughout the year; a feat that has made this landlocked village famous in their region.

From left to right: Rotarian Fred Auch, Charlotte Odille Diedhiou (CREATE! Agricultural Technician), Amadou Diouf (CREATE! Field Coordinator) Rotarian David Laub, Ndeye Diop (Mbossedji Community Garden President), Ousmane Diallo (CREATE! Agricultural Technician), and Omar Ndiaye Seck (CREATE! Country Director).

Trained Communities on COVID-19 Safety Measures

Since March, our partner communities have been fighting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their health and livelihoods. In the face of a worldwide issue, it’s amazing to see how our global community is coming together to support each other and take action against COVID-19. CREATE!’s Senegal staff worked hard to ensure the safety of the community. CREATE!‘s Executive Director, Michael Carson, said “I was very impressed by our staff and groups’ resilience and resolve to persevere and progress despite the Coronavirus pandemic.”

Since not working in the face of this pandemic is not an option for the project participants, to help them keep working while remaining safe, CREATE! held awareness training on all safety measures. To prevent the spread of the virus, the weekly mobilization meetings were stopped for some time, the members were taught to work separately with distances of at least two meters (6 ft), and to wear masks. CREATE! provided the community members with masks, set up handwashing and sanitation stations in community garden sites, and trained members on essential hygiene routines like washing hands often and to disinfect.

The hand-washing station provided the community members with clean running water to wash their hands after working in the fields. Soap and other disinfectants are also provided to the community for this purpose. This station has reassured the participants and helped them carry out their activities maintaining proper hygiene. While COVID-19 restricted and slowed down activities and affected usual program timelines, our staff and partner communities have learned to work with these regulations and continue their work towards attaining self-sufficiency.

communityresilienceCREATE!‘s technicians first piloted a sanitation station in the village of Boustane Lo.

CREATE! Received Addax & Oryx Grant

In April, we were thrilled to announce that CREATE! received an Addax & Oryx grant! Addax & Oryx Foundation awarded CREATE! a total of $150,000 which will be spread out over the next four years. “As a small foundation, we aim to fund holistic, focused and high-impact projects led by passionate and committed organizations. CREATE!’s innovative model and dedicated staff are the key to our collaboration in the crucial journey of sustainably lifting vulnerable populations out of extreme poverty,” says Belinda Hall, Addax & Oryx Foundation Managing Director.

This new grant supports CREATE!‘s climate-smart community empowerment programs in two communities. Thanks to Addax & Oryx, we were able to partner with the community of Ndiagne Kahone this summer. After participating in an improved cookstove training with CREATE!’s technicians in 2019, community members in Ndiagne Kahone were enthusiastic about forming a partnership with CREATE! that would continue trainings to help them overcome water, food, and fuel shortages resulting from the impacts of climate change, and now, the impacts of a global pandemic. In just a few short months that CREATE! has been working with Ndiagne Kahone, the village has already started undergoing a transformation.

Ousmane explains the process of transplanting pepper plants to several members of the Ndiagne Kahone cooperative garden group.

Supported the Acronis Cyber Foundation School Project

This fall, CREATE! was approached and selected by Acronis Cyber Foundation to carry out our COVID-19 response in their partner community of Soupa Serere based on our presence in the Fatick Region of Senegal. Together, Acronis and CREATE! acquired and distributed a total of 500 PPE masks to both school children and their families along with staple foods like rice, sugar, pasta, and oil. CREATE! also installed a fully stocked handwashing/ sanitation station in the schoolyard for the students along with extra soap. We are honored to be a part of the solution in Soupa Serere and hope to spread this kind of success to more villages throughout rural Senegal.

Community members in Soupa Serere now have staple food items to support their families through the challenges brought forth by COVID-19.

Successfully Completed Another One Day’s Wages Campaign

At the end of September, we launched our fourth One Day’s Wages matching-challenge grant campaign. Thanks to your support, we met the challenge of raising $50,000 by October 31st! In fact, our fall campaign went above and beyond our expectations and we raised an additional $20,000 by the end of the year. Because of your generosity, CREATE! will be able to partner with new communities in Senegal and support them in building a sustainable future as they overcome water, food, and fuel shortages resulting from the impacts of climate change. Stay tuned for project updates in 2021!

Food for Thought: Explored New Ideas to Transform Food Systems in Senegal with Pierre Thiam & Pape Gaye

On November 11, we were thrilled to have Chef Pierre Thiam, a famous Senegalese chef, author, restaurateur, social entrepreneur, and culinary ambassador, and Pape Amadou Gaye, a visionary leader and pioneer in international health focused on supporting developing nations, lead the discussion on exploring new ideas to transform food systems at CREATE!‘s webinar.

The pandemic has highlighted the challenges that many communities face around the world. Now more than ever, it is essential to mitigate issues such as malnutrition and food insecurity. The webinar inspired us to look deeper at our approach to holistically developing food security. Many of the diverse and complex challenges around the world are interconnected and require integrated multi-sectoral solutions.

We are so grateful for our network of support that is continuing to learn more and be a part of the solution. As Pape Amadou Gaye mentioned at the webinar, nit nitay garabam, people are a person’s medicine. Thank you Enviro-Pak for sponsoring the event!

Ringing in the New Year

For the end of one year and the beginning of another, we’d like to leave you with a Wolof proverb: Lu metti yàggul te ku muñ muuñ. This translates to, “Whatever is painful, does not last, and whoever perseveres, smiles.” We hope you will have plenty of reasons to smile in this upcoming year of 2021!