Posts tagged testimonial
“Years ago, Darou Diadji was threatened by the desert because there were not many trees and it was very windy and dusty,” says Daba. “Now thanks to CREATE! we have a green oasis and each one of us has trees around the house.”
It’s scorching hot in the village of Darou Diadji, but rain clouds swell in the distance. Summer brings with it the short rainy season, and villagers like Daba Kane take advantage of the weather to help boost their crops. Before CREATE! began working with her community, though, Daba would not have imagined herself working out in the field, tending to her hot pepper plants as she’s doing now. “CREATE! is like school,” she says. “When we started I was a beginner. But now I have skills and knowledge from the technicians, and now I’m able to create my own vegetable garden.”
“Over the last two years my family food has changed because we now eat vegetables every day and have gotten healthier. Before CREATE!, we would go many days without eating vegetables because the village is so far from the market.”
The self-sufficiency and independence that Daba, age 40, has gained from CREATE!’s programs is evident in other parts of her life as well. “Chicken production in the village is a very important source of income for us, along with a source of protein accessible to the villagers,” says Daba. “And it is also a diversification of activities in the rural environment.” Between vegetable gardening, poultry production, tree planting, and their VSLAs, Daba’s community has integrated a well-rounded system of income generation into their daily activities.
Though she enjoys the variety of opportunities now available to her, Daba says her vegetable garden site is her favorite part of CREATE!’s programs. “It’s an activity I’ve wanted to do for a long time and just didn’t know how,” she says. The hardest part about it? “The weeds that grow quickly in the rainy season!” Even with such challenges though, Daba says that having her own vegetable garden has made it so she now eats vegetables daily, it saves her time from having to go buy vegetables, and now enables her to sell her own produce on the market.
Ndeye Diouf has been a part of CREATE! for three years now, and has noticed big changes in her life in many significant ways.
“My participation in CREATE! programs has changed my life,” says Ndeye Diouf, 45, of Gagnick Mack. “I have noticed a great improvement in my family’s living conditions, because I now have the ability to better support them.” In particular, Ndeye notes the difference that the improved cookstove has made in her daily life. “When I was cooking with the traditional three-stone fire, I had to be present during all the cooking to keep an eye on the pot, look after the flames, and constantly add wood,” she explains. Not to mention, the three-stone fire produced a lot of smoke in her kitchen. “Now with the improved cookstove, I can cook and do other housework at the same time and in complete safety,” she says. “There is no smoke in kitchen and the cooking time is very quick.”
Ndeye says she spends much of her time in the garden, as seen here where she is watering her okra plants.
The improved cookstove is not the only big change Ndeye has experienced from participating in CREATE!’s programs in her village. “The poultry cooperative has changed lot of things in my life,” she says. “I used to travel to Guinguineo to buy chicken, but since the establishment of the CREATE! poultry shed, I’m able to get them very easily and the price is cheaper in the village than outside.” The improved access to poultry, along with the fruits and vegetables now readily available from community garden cooperative, have all made it easier for Ndeye to feed and care for her ten-person household.
“Years ago we didn’t eat vegetables frequently, and there were no markets where we could find them but now we grow vegetables in our own garden,” says Ndeye. Gagnick Mack is a traditional farming village, where most people grow peanuts and millet during the rainy season. However, having a community garden provides families the opportunity to grow a greater variety of crops year round, with the help of their solar powered water pump installed by CREATE!. “Before CREATE! the village was unknown because there were no activities here,” says Ndeye. However, she now sees many people coming to the village to buy produce and chickens, providing greater opportunities for them to generate income, support their families, and do business with neighboring communities.
“Before we began working with CREATE! vegetables we ate were coming from Kaolack but now thanks to the site we are able to eat vegetables without leaving the village.”
Anyone who’s been to a farmer’s market in their community knows the value of being able to buy fresh, locally grown produce from a nearby farm or garden, rather than having to buy fruits and vegetables that have been shipped across the country or grown on industrial farms. Less than a decade ago, people in the community of Fass Koffe would have never thought they’d be growing and selling their own produce for the local market; rather, vegetables had to be bought from distant regions of Senegal and their options were limited. Today however, Sophie N’diaye points out that “There is a big improvement in Fass market because almost all the vegetables come from our community.”
Sophie, age 65, has been participating in CREATE!’s programs for 6 years now, long enough to see the profound differences it has made in her community. In fact, Fass Koffe is one of CREATE!’s graduated communities, and is now successfully running all of its programs on its own.
As a graduated community, men and women in Fass Koffe now run all of their own programs and community gardens using skills and knowledge that they learned through CREATE!
Communities that partner with CREATE! receive five years of training and assistance from our team of technicians in Senegal, who teach them to build improved cookstoves, rehabilitate their wells, start income generation programs like poultry sheds and VSLAs, and establish cooperatively managed community gardens where they can grow food year-round. If they’ve reached self-sufficiency after five years, communities like Fass Koffe graduate from the program with everything they need to continue their projects on their own, with only periodic check-ins and support as needed from CREATE! technicians.
“With the tree planting program, we all now have shade to sit under when it’s hot,” says Sophie, who also appreciates the abundance of clean water from their hand-dug well for drinking and for irrigating their gardens. She says there are now many poultry sheds in the village as well, providing chickens for them to eat and sell on the market, while the VSLA program helps women to save money from their market sales and provide loans to those who need them. The beautiful transformation of Fass Koffe that Sophie has seen is evidence of the great work and participation that members of the community have committed to continuing their success as part of the CREATE! program.
Fatou Khoulé says she began participating in CREATE! programs because “it was the first time for me to work in my own village.”
Fatou Khoulé remembers a time not so long ago when vegetables were nonexistent in her village of Darou Diadji. Living in a household of 15 people, having fresh vegetables now makes all the difference for her, her husband, her children, and her daughters-in-law. At the age of 60, Fatou Khoulé has found a noticeable difference in her health and the health of others in the village since they began farming vegetables and gained access to clean water thanks to the solar pump that CREATE! installed in the community.
Members of the village take part in cultivating the vegetables and trees that support their families.
Before CREATE! began working in Darou Diadji, the village was hot and windy because so few trees were growing there. Today, however, Fatou Khoulé reports that it has more green spaces and an improved climate, which contributes to better cultivating conditions for their vegetables. Fatou Khoulé has been very involved in all of CREATE!’s projects in Darou Diadji, including the tree planting campaign, vegetable cultivation, building improved cookstoves, and poultry production.
Having been a part of the program for two years now, Fatou Khoulé especially likes the poultry project, remarking that she can now eat chicken whenever she wants, along with her vegetables. She notes that the emphasis on building self-sufficiency, skills, and knowledge is what sets CREATE! apart from other NGOs. “CREATE! has given us skills and knowledge we can use forever,” she says.