Afternoon rain showers make up for the scorching heat in Senegal this August. Villagers like Rokhy Dieye take advantage of the weather to boost their crops in the community garden. As the Cooperative Garden President in Boustane Lo and a mother supporting a family of 10, Rokhy strives to pave the way for the next generation in her community. “CREATE!’s projects have helped reduce rural exodus in the village because with the cooperative garden, we have the possibility to stay in the village and work,” she tells us. One year ago, before Boustane Lo partnered with CREATE!, Rokhy and many of the other women in the village would often leave their families during the dry season to look for work in more urban areas.
Today, the community garden that Rokhy leads has changed life for families in Boustane and surrounding communities. “We share our vegetables with many other people because we sell them in the Gossas market,” Rokhy explains. “There are also people who visit our garden to buy them too.” Many CREATE! partner communities used their community gardens as produce markets when COVID-10 temporarily shut down the regional markets.
Passing on New Traditions to the Next Generation in Senegal
Rokhy and her cooperative garden group are learning organic agriculture techniques that they put into practice every day. “We consume natural vegetables because we don’t use any chemical product,” Rokhy tells us. “Before the community garden, we were eating vegetables and we didn’t know where they were grown.” The vegetables that women used to buy in the market often came from distant regions in Senegal or beyond. “We used to eat vegetables rarely because we had to travel to the market and it was expensive, but now with our community garden, we have the possibility to eat vegetables every day,” Rokhy says. “My children like all of them. I frequently cook my favorite dish which is okra.”
As well as enjoying fresh, delicious meals from the garden, children are also watching and learning from their moms on how to sustainably cultivate these different vegetables. Someday, these children will carry on this tradition as adults.
As the Cooperative Garden President, Rokhy is dedicated to inspiring her group to continue improving their lives and paving the way for the next generation in rural Senegal. But their success doesn’t end at sustaining a year-round community garden.
What’s next for Boustane Lo?
Rokhy and the other women in Boustane Lo will proceed on their path to community self-sufficiency by continuing to engage in income-generating projects such as poultry raising! Along with selling produce in the markets, women will begin training on how also raise and sell their own poultry which is highly profitable.
Many people earn a majority of their money in urban areas or abroad, which means that oftentimes rural communities do not have their own credit or banking systems in place. As one of the last projects, CREATE! technicians will assist community members in creating Voluntary Savings and Lending Associations (VSLA). These trainings focus on advancing financial literacy and management skills so that the women will eventually run their own VSLAs from Boustane Lo. Association members save small amounts of money each week and then make loans to each other to cover business, personal, and household costs. VSLAs are a sustainable and successful part of our income generation programs, empowering women to lift themselves out of poverty for generations to come.
Interested in contributing to the success of Boustane Lo? Consider donating today to support the success of Rokhy and her community.