Thank You For This Brilliant Gift!

With the opening of the new gardens, we can look forward to the impact that these new opportunities will have on the communities where they operate. We recently sat down with Khady Senghor, who has been working in one of our gardens for several years. We know that stories like hers will become reality for many more we are now working with, and we look forward to watching this unfold.

“My name is Khady Senghor, I am the president of one of the groups in Ngor Marone Market Garden. Our group is composed of six determined and dynamic women. Andando has given so much to our group, because it allowed us to work in a team, organize, produce together, and consume what we produce.

“Andando also taught us to do charitable acts in the course of our activities and after each harvest to give to poor families who do not have enough. This value of mutual aid helps to eliminate poverty, fight famine, malnutrition, and diseases. If we eat healthy products that are purely natural, we rarely fall sick and it conserves all our efforts in the garden.

“The project taught us the entrepreneurship of women and farmers through Andando’s technicians. They demonstrate and show us the importance and the development of value chains in the garden system. After the arrival of Andando, I began to frequent the garden and I saw my income increasing more and more. In addition, I invested some of the money by buying seeds during the winter when they are cheaper. I sowed thereafter and at the end of the crops, I had made good income on my investment. This extra money was a big help to my family, and also helped me to get enough feed for the cattle. This positively testifies to the coming of Andando to Keur Soce, because as mother of my family, my worry has lessened, and my dignity and honor have recovered.

“After the death of my husband and before the arrival of Andando, I lived in extreme poverty and economic and social dependence. Now, all this is gone with Andando, because I manage to satisfy the needs of my family, and also to keep my children in school.

“The Andando project is also important for the community of Keur Soce as a whole, because the population does not have to travel to get supplies of fruits and vegetables, which can be costly. Instead, everyone comes to the gardens and finds everything they need.

“My vision for the future of the project is optimistic because the women who work in the project are now truly committed because it has become a success. To this effect, we want to thank those who have brought us this brilliant gift, Thank You!

 

New Gardens Complete!

Earlier this year, we set off with the ambitious goal of bringing five new market gardens to communities in the Keur Soce area in Senegal. It took a great deal of work with many different moving parts, but the garden infrastructure is now built and complete!

Working with local leadership and utilizing experienced Senegalese contractors, we constructed fencing, built large-scale water distribution systems, and installed solar-powered pumps that will irrigate the gardens for years to come.

While all this was being done, our staff worked with the women’s cooperatives who will run these gardens. They did extensive training and guided them through making beds, preparing the soil, when and how to plant, which plants work well together, and on and on. The women have been bringing ash and manure from village to build up the soil and are learning daily about what goes into a successful garden.

All of this came to a head late last month when all of the infrastructure was complete and the water was turned on! It will take some time to develop the garden and be able to utilize all the space and truly make it thrive, but these women have already shown that they have what it takes to make the desert bloom.

When they are fully up and running, these gardens will provide income for over 500 women, as well as providing the opportunity to take home nutritious produce to their families in a very food insecure region.

These programs are making a real impact in Senegal and we are excited about the direction we are headed together. Thank you for your generous support!

New Gardens Nearing Completion

This year Andando is building 5 new gardens! This is our most ambitious project to date and when these gardens are up and running, they will provide income for about 600 women and nutritious options for their families and communities. We are currently building the solar panel installations and installing basins. 


Meanwhile there is much to be done in preparation for the gardens. Our staff are training the women and guiding them through making beds, preparing the soil, when and how to plant, which plants work well together, and on and on.


The women have all been bringing ash and manure from their homes to build up the soil and are daily learning about what goes in to a successful garden.


Very soon the water will be turned on- excitement is building!

Building Sustainable Solutions

Crews working on the water basins at the site of the Keur Pathe Malick Market Garden

Crews working on the water basins at the site of the Keur Pathe Malick Market Garden

Our construction crews have been hard at work these past several months, and this year’s projects are really starting to take shape. The bulk of the work in the beginning months of this year has been focused on the five new market gardens we are building. In partnering with five new communities this year, the gardens will employ over 500 women! These women will have the opportunity to grow fruit and vegetables throughout the year that will give them many more nutritious options for themselves and their families, while also providing an income through the sale of additional produce.

Materials staged at the Keur Pathe Malick Market Garden site

Materials staged at the Keur Pathe Malick Market Garden site

We currently operate seven of these gardens and the communities have seen dramatic results. With more food on the table and money in their pockets, these women are building a better future. This means healthier families, more children in school because they can afford school fees, a more vibrant economy, as well as intangibles like affirming the dignity and self-determination of those involved. Their dedication is evident and their hard work is bearing fruit.

Construction of the housing for the storage tank and solar panels, next to the well that will feed the garden

Construction of the housing for the storage tank and solar panels, next to the well that will feed the garden

Our crews – led by Construction Supervisor Abdoulaye Kane – have been building the water distribution systems that will allow the women to irrigate the garden easily throughout the year. Further, our Senegalese partner – FlexNRJ – is building the solar pump/panel housing and tank structure that will feed the basins. Utilizing local labor alongside outside experts, the systems will help the women bring the desert to life for years to come. These are simple and sustainable solutions and the return on investment pays for itself many times over.

Lead Contractor Abdoulaye Kane (right) going over construction of the latrine at the Kouthieye Market Garden. When the gardens are some distances from surrounding homes, we build a latrine that the women can use when working at the site. 

Lead Contractor Abdoulaye Kane (right) going over construction of the latrine at the Kouthieye Market Garden. When the gardens are some distances from surrounding homes, we build a latrine that the women can use when working at the site. 

Documenting Growth and Ensuring Healthy Kids

Health workers in Thiamene Taba, Senegal documenting growth in children in the village. 

Health workers in Thiamene Taba, Senegal documenting growth in children in the village. 

Over the past several years, Andando has built health posts to serve rural communities around the Keur Soce area. These areas are difficult to access and people living there must often travel long distances to seek health care. In building these health posts, we have sought to bring healthcare to the people where they are, so they can live and thrive in their home villages.

After our initial construction investment, these posts are run and staffed entirely by trained nurses and midwives in those communities. They receiving training from the government and continue their education to keep up on new initiatives and developments. 

At a recent round of programs, staff took key measurements on children in the village. This helps them to establish healthy growth rates and monitor those who may be at risk for malnutrition. This also helps to connect with the parents as they are able to discuss options they might have for issues that may turn up. 

These are very simple facilities and are relatively inexpensive to build, but have an immediate and lasting impact on the people they serve. Health posts like this are a vital part of building healthier and more vibrant communities, and the people who work there are real heroes!

Affirming Dignity Through Self-Sufficiency

The programs built by you create real change in communities, just ask those who are impacted! This is Dieynaba Ba, a mother and a pillar in the community. She has worked at Andando’s Ngor Marone Market Garden for nearly three years. She has benefitted from a boost in her income, and her family has seen a huge rise in their nutritional options at home. Last week, we sat down with her to hear her thoughts on the program.

Madame Dieynaba Ba in the Ngor Marone Market Garden

Madame Dieynaba Ba in the Ngor Marone Market Garden

“I have learned many things in the garden of Andando, namely: solidarity, entrepreneurship, transparency, and management of affairs when working in a group. I also learned many farming techniques through our garden technician Mandaw Ba, who is always at our disposal. Since I have learned these techniques firsthand, I could work by applying these techniques by myself and be independent.

“I would say that without Andando, I could not know all this. Andando made me self-sufficient economically and socially. It has really improved and strengthened my dignity because in the past, I was wandering all the time to extend my hand to people to feed my children and grandchildren. However, this has now become just a memory.

Watering lettuce that will soon be sold at the market

Watering lettuce that will soon be sold at the market

“Andando has taught me to work to eat, to give to the poor, and to make savings to prepare the future. Thanks to Andando, I now manage to contribute a minimum of 100f or 200f (about 25 cents) to help my children at school. Before the arrival of Andando, it was difficult for me. With Andando, women have become autonomous, hunger is being defeated. Further, the garden is my place of activity and convergence with others.

“Because of our success, we are now thinking about plans for the future of the garden. We want to expand the irrigation system with more basins to improve our yields. We also want to have small-scale fish-farming in the basins if we can accomplish it.

The thriving Ngor Marone Market Garden

The thriving Ngor Marone Market Garden

“With Andando, I have the confidence to devote my working time to the garden and my family life. We are dedicated because we see the dedication that Andando has to us and the ways they have invested in us. We are now thinking to ensure the sustainability of our activities so that this treasure is in our hands. Andando has been such a blessing to us and this community, and I hope they can widen their help to other communities.”

 

Andando Receives Grant from MDRT Foundation

The MDRT Foundation has awarded a $5,000 grant to the Andando Foundation for the construction of the Lamarame Women’s Cooperative Garden in rural Senegal.

Through its global grants programs, the MDRT Foundation is committed to building stronger families and communities around the globe. This year, the MDRT Foundation will award over $1 million in MDRT member-endorsed grants to more than 200 charitable organizations worldwide.

Representing the MDRT Foundation, Allan Ross, CLU, ChFC, CFP, presented this grant to Andando on April 19, 2017 at Andando’s Board Meeting.

This grant will help fund the construction of a solar-powered water pumping system that will irrigate a women’s cooperative garden. Located in the small community of Lamarame, Senegal, this garden will be a huge benefit to these women and their families by providing them with large boost in income, as well as offering more nutritious produce in this food insecure area. Andando currently operates seven of these gardens in the area, and they have been hugely successful in empowering women and creating real change at a community level.

Andando’s Executive Director, Lewis Kiker, says “this grant will go a long way in transforming this community. Those we are partnering with will take this opportunity and make the desert come to life!”

Walking Together Toward a Brighter Future

In the past few months, our teams in Senegal have been working diligently on several phases of our projects in the Keur Soce area. Much of this work has been focused on the five new market gardens we are establishing this year.

Meeting with the Kouthieye Garden Cooperative

Meeting with the Kouthieye Garden Cooperative

As with our other gardens, they will each be managed by a women’s cooperative with established leadership structures, along with the assistance of our garden technicians, on a daily basis. Utilizing local labor and contractors, locally available materials, and using appropriate technology, these systems will be up and running by July of this year and the women will be able to start production immediately.

On a recent trip to Senegal, we met extensively with each cooperative to discuss leadership and ownership over the project. By agreeing to terms in a Memorandum of Understanding, we outline accountability structures, community contributions, and savings plans that ensure that the project will be sustainable. Throughout the process, our team meets with the women as well as local leadership to keep everyone on the same page. We are excited by the response we have already seen in these communities and their participation in the process. As with our other gardens, close to 100 women will work the land at each garden on a daily basis, providing vital nutrition and much needed income for themselves and their families.

Lead Contractor Abdoulaye Kane surveying the work

Lead Contractor Abdoulaye Kane surveying the work

We are also expanding our school-building program and construction is underway at Kouthieye & Keur Pate Malick Primary Schools, where we are building new classrooms for these severely underserved schools. We have partnered with the communities and active school administrations to give these schools enough classrooms to comfortably accommodate all the students. We anticipate an increase in enrollment next year as local parents see the school as a more viable option than the previous set up. We will also do book distributions, latrine construction, and other improvements.

Finally, we continue to monitor and evaluate our other programs and follow up on specific needs. We just learned that the newly built health post in Sama Toucouleur has recently seen the birth of FOUR sets of twins! This would never have been possible with their previous facility and we are excited by the hope and good news coming from past projects.

One of the FOUR sets of twins recently born at the newly constructed Sama Toucouleur Health Post

One of the FOUR sets of twins recently born at the newly constructed Sama Toucouleur Health Post

Later this year, we will be constructing two more rural health posts to serve people just like this. With your help, we are able to accomplish more and more each year. We are encouraged by this growth and we have even more ambitious plans for the future!

 

Andando's Year in Review

  • Over 500 women in our garden programs, increasing nutrition and boosting income by 25%

  • Three schools constructed serving over 700 students

  • 50% increase in test scores in our partner schools

  • Two rural health posts constructed for those with little access to healthcare

  • Over 1000 students receiving a nutritious breakfast everyday at school

  • Over 3000 people benefiting from solar energy installations

YOU have made a huge difference this year, transforming communities half a world away.

We often see things happening around the world and ask ourselves, “but what can I do?” Well, you have answered that call and it has changed the lives of so many people.

By walking together with those we partner with, we aim to affirm dignity, build hope, and empower others on the path toward real, sustainable change. Focusing on the growth of the whole village - water, health, education, agriculture, and small business - together we are building thriving communities in Senegal.

2017 promises to be an even better year with more programs and initiatives benefitting hundreds more people in rural areas around Senegal.

None of this could happen without the generosity of your investment, but to do even more, we need your help! Please consider making a donation to Andandotoday and have the effects felt halfway across the globe. Your contribution makes these programs possible, and the Senegalese send along a BIG “Jere Jef!” - Thank You!

 

Initiatives That Change Lives

The programs built by you create real change in communities, just ask those who are impacted! Madame Diareye Thiam, a leader in the Ngor Marone Market Garden, has been involved in our garden program for several years. She has benefitted from a boost in income, and her family has received a huge rise in their nutritional options at home.

With her carrots almost ready for harvest!

With her carrots almost ready for harvest!

“Andando has done so much for the women of Keur Soce! My work in the garden has allowed me to earn an income to provide for myself, my children, and my grandchildren. Andando is an NGO like no other, because it helps women to be financially independent.

“We work in the gardens to use some of what we produce to be healthy and the other part will be used to sell, to allow us an income. This helps us to havesavings, maintaining the needs of the family and reinvesting part of the income into other commercial activities.

Thiam’s grandchildren also attend primary school in the community, and she is grateful for the assistance they receive.

“Andando helps to feed the children at the school, helping them to learn all day. They also help the students and teachers with teaching materials, textbooks, and so on. This will help the students and the community for years to come.”

With your help, we were also able to construct rural health posts this year, that serve communities with little access to healthcare. Nene Sy (below) is the head nurse and midwife at Sama Toucouleur Health Post. This health post opened just a few months ago, and started creating a healthier community immediately, seeing patients every day for routine care, consultations, vaccination clinics, and labor and delivery.

Midwife Nene Sy with one of the brand new citizens of Sama Toucouleur!

Midwife Nene Sy with one of the brand new citizens of Sama Toucouleur!

On a recent visit, Sy told us that “there have been dozens of babies born here already, and women are healthier and happier than before. We started working hard as soon as the doors opened, and it has already made a huge impact in our community.” 

We have made some incredible impacts this year, and yet the needs are vast. People like Nene Sy are ready to take them head-on, they just need a little investment and encouragement on our part.

 

The Finishing Touches

Since our update last month, our teams have been putting the finishing touches on the three new solar-powered pump systems in our partner communities this year. 

Beginning earlier this year, we met extensively with village leadership as well as the women's cooperatives we would be working with to firmly establish guidelines, expectations, timelines, and responsibilities. Since then, in partnership with volunteer labor from many in the community, we have built a fences to surround the gardens, completed the hand-dug wells that will feed the gardens, and built all the required infrastructure that will support the gardens for years to come.

Meeting with community leaders to establish all expectations, timelines, and responsibilities for the project.

Meeting with community leaders to establish all expectations, timelines, and responsibilities for the project.

The first step – beyond the negotiations detailed above – was to build fences around the perimeter of the gardens to protect them from the roaming herds of animals that are everywhere in this pastoral society. Working with a local contractor, we constructed solid and secure fences to maintain and delineate the properties from adjacent landowners. Further, this firmly establishes the land as property of the cooperatives themselves apart from the other farmers’ lands around it, which helps to mitigate landownership issues in the future. It also protects the investment that we have made in the equipment and infrastructure of the garden and deters theft and other disturbances.

Newly completed fence, along with materials staged for the infrastructure components.

Newly completed fence, along with materials staged for the infrastructure components.

While the fences were being constructed, we worked with local well-digging experts to finish the construction of the wells that will be used to feed the gardens. Working with very basic technology – often just a shovel and buckets – these laborers worked hard to make the wells durable and effective long-term solutions to the lack of water access in the area. These are open wells that we will cover with openable lids, with the pump and supporting wiring down under the water line. 

Constructing the water distribution basins at the new Market Gardens, with the newly completed well in the background. 

Constructing the water distribution basins at the new Market Gardens, with the newly completed well in the background. 

Partnering with a well-qualified and experienced solar pump system company based in Dakar, we then installed the solar-powered pumps that will bring ample fresh water to the surface to be distributed throughout the gardens. These are the same high-quality systems backed by a warranty that we have used very successfully in the past in other communities. With no electricity in these locations, these systems are stand-alone units that are fully self-sufficient and do not require any interaction from the users, limiting the possibility of interference or misuse by participants.

Installing the solar panels on top of the pump housing/tank support structure.

Installing the solar panels on top of the pump housing/tank support structure.

Utilizing the power from six 250-watt solar panels, these systems will bring water from a depth of about 20 meters up to 5000L storage tanks sitting atop a garden storage shed, that will be used for storing various garden implements, seeds, and tools. When full, the tanks have an automatic shut-off valve, and will hold the water until it is used. 

From this elevated height, the water is then gravity-fed through a plumbed distribution system throughout the garden, where it is held in large basins, also with automatic shut-off valves. The women fill their watering cans at these basins and water their various beds throughout the garden, effectively making the desert come to life! As the women use the water to irrigate their plants, the pump automatically comes back on and keeps the system going.

Members of the cooperative clearing weeds and preparing the land that will be planted soon.

Members of the cooperative clearing weeds and preparing the land that will be planted soon.

In just the last few days, we are very excited to announce that all construction components of these systems are now finished!

We are now in the testing phase of each of the components in order to guarantee each will effectively stand up to the daily demands of use in the garden.

We have stationed one of our experienced and capable garden technicians in each of these communities that will oversee all aspects of the opening developments of the garden, and work daily with the women to clearly establish beds, delineate groups and their respective work spaces, and coach them on new and sustainable organic gardening techniques. This will ease the transition of the women from a very small work space into a full-fledged market garden with daily operations, growth, and sales. 

Andando Staff Members with members of one of the Women's Cooperatives. 

Andando Staff Members with members of one of the Women's Cooperatives. 

We will now begin our work with the women over the next several months of daily consultations, workshops, and mitigation of issues. This will proceed on a sliding scale, with involvement decreasing as the women become more and more adept at agricultural techniques, as well as sales, marketing, and cooperative management. 

As we move forward in this process, we anticipate a dramatic transformation within the community in terms of available nutrition, as well as a massive increase in income potential among these women and their families. We look forward to witnessing this transformation firsthand among these peoples whom we care deeply about. In the coming months, check back in with us as we continue to see improvements in the daily lives of all those participating in the program. Thank you for your partnership to help put these communities on the path toward a brighter future!

We Manage Together, We Act Together

In the past several months, we have worked with the women of the market gardens to establish a poultry-raising project where the women’s groups raise chickens to sell locally. With minor capital investment on our part, the women have really taken hold of this program and have excelled. There have now been several rounds of chickens as they use the profits of the sales to reinvest and start the cycle over. They are able to bring in additional income, have greater access to good sources of protein, and are learning important new skills. We recently sat down with some of the women; here’s what group leader Fatou Sarr had to say:

Speaking with some of the women participating in the poultry project. 

Speaking with some of the women participating in the poultry project. 

“We have been easily able to sell the chickens without difficulty, so the fear of a customer is dismissed. With just a bit of effort, we have invaluable results with this poultry project. I know that each of us likes this project, so we will do everything to make it sustainable. We talk about the future of our economic situation with peace of mind because we are now sure that we are no longer unemployed as before the arrival of Andando. Peace and hope are the feelings that drive our vision of the future because of programs like the poultry project and also with the gardens.

Some of the women with a new batch of chicks at the small coop near their home. 

Some of the women with a new batch of chicks at the small coop near their home. 

“Each one of us know more than ever that we are economic agents. We are capable as women to contribute effectively to the improvement of our respective households’ income. We are better viewed as a contributor to the family expenditure. For example, some of our family members have bought our chickens to cook at home. So, this gesture immediately shows the interest of all the members of the family in this project.

“We are more and more important in the eyes of other members of the household and in the eyes of the community.
— Fatou Sarr
The chickens nearing the end of the cycle, about to be sold to community members. 

The chickens nearing the end of the cycle, about to be sold to community members. 

“In addition to the gardens where we have been working the last few years, Andando has added the poultry project. For us, we like to see it as a kind of reward for our commitment and our patience. Because of this, the community has learned some lessons about development and working hard, and to have confidence in themselves and the union's efforts. We manage together, we act together, and it is important for the future of the community. With good management, we believe that the project will keep expanding.”

 

Building A Brighter Future

In the past few months, our teams in Senegal have been working diligently on several phases of our projects in the Keur Soce area. Much of this work has been focused on the three new market gardens we are establishing this year.

Construction underway at Daga Sambou Market Garden - water distribution system in foreground, water pump and tank structure in background.

Construction underway at Daga Sambou Market Garden - water distribution system in foreground, water pump and tank structure in background.

As with our other gardens, they will each be managed by a women’s cooperative with established leadership structures, along with the assistance of our garden technicians, on a daily basis. Utilizing local labor and contractors, locally-available materials, and using appropriate technology, these systems will be up and running by August of this year and the women will be able to start production immediately.

Throughout the process, our team meets with the women as well as local leadership to keep everyone on the same page. We are excited by the response we have already seen in these communities and their participation in the process. As with our other gardens, approximately 75 women will work the land on a daily basis, providing vital nutrition and much needed income for themselves and their families.

Building blocks and materials staging at Lamarame Primary School. See the current, makeshift classroom on the left. 

Building blocks and materials staging at Lamarame Primary School. See the current, makeshift classroom on the left. 

We are also expanding our school-building program and construction is underway at Lamarame Primary School, where we are building four new classrooms for a severely underserved school. We have partnered with the community and an active school administration to give this school enough classrooms to comfortably accommodate all the students.

We anticipate an increase in enrollment next year as local parents see the school as a more viable option than the previous set up. We will also do a book distribution, latrine construction, and other improvements

The newly completed Rural Health Post in Sama Toucouleur, Senegal. 

The newly completed Rural Health Post in Sama Toucouleur, Senegal. 

Finally, just a few weeks ago, we received word that the Sama Toucouleur Health Post is complete and ready for use! This facility and its small staff has the power to transform the future of this community. We are continuing to work with this health post, as well as others we have built in the past, to provide basic necessities and healthcare equipment, or assist them to find them on their own through the department of health. We are working with the local and regional health authorities to identify new locations for future health posts and more communities to partner with.

 

Still Time to Make a Difference in 2015!

As we celebrate another year and look forward to an exciting new one, I just wanted to take a moment and say THANK YOU for your support and partnership. Through your investment in Senegal, we are affirming dignity, building hope, and empowering others on the path toward real, sustainable change. Would you continue to walk with Andando and the people of Senegal? As we close out this year, would you consider making an end of year gift to Andando and help us finish the year on a high point? All donations are tax-deductible and all gifts made by midnight (December 31st) count towards your 2015 giving. There are two simple ways to make your end of year gift:

Online - through our website

•Mail - Send a check postmarked by 12/31/15 to: PO Box 542, Jefferson, OR 97352

Thank you and many blessings in the new year.

Sincerely,

Lewis Kiker

Andando

 

We Will Work Hard, Our Whole Community Will Benefit

With very little access to capital, how can an entrepreneurial woman in rural Senegal start or grow her business? For the last 12 years, part of our efforts are directed toward economic assistance, allowing those in West Africa a chance to have access to capital in the form of microloans.
These tiny cash loans, averaging $60, are used by the recipient to start a small business or otherwise actively pursue the opportunity to turn this small amount into something larger. They are almost always fully repaid, with a paid back rate of around 95%.
We recently caught up with a few of these women in the town of Podor, in the north of Senegal. We sat with them and learned more about what they do and hear their success stories.
Podor Microloan LadiesDibor Faye used the loan she received to make ice cream. It is not the conventional kind like we think of, but a mixture of fruit from the Baobab tree (called Monkey Bread), combined with water and sugar and then frozen. It's quite delicious and fairly simple to make. While knowing there would be a strong demand for it, she had no money or resource of any kind to buy the ingredients, including sugar and little plastic bags used to make single servings to sell. Her loan was for $50, part of which she also used to rent a small freezer space from a nearby shop.
Over the next few months, she developed a clientele. It is very hot and dry in Podor, so people liked being able to buy a small portion of this "ice cream" for a few pennies.  She eventually turned her $50 loan into $290, for a profit (after she repaid the loan) of $240!
Awa Diop used her loan to buy and raise a sheep, which gave birth to a lamb. She fed them both with special feed to get them ready for the annual "feast" or meal celebration, not unlike our Thanksgiving.  She sold them both for a tidy profit of over $200.
In talking about what she had planned for her new income, she motioned toward a young child, who was handicapped. She was able to buy medicine and clothes (the child cannot walk and wears out clothing by crawling around on hands and knees). She took the girl to a doctor and paid her medical bills. It was a life-changing intervention that cost very little. Further, Awa is very proud that she was able to earn this money through her own hard work and take care of her family.
Khadidiatou NdiayeKhadidiatou Ndiaye used her $45 loan money to buy seed to grow rice. She planted on her local small farm patch where she grew and cared for the rice, and eventually harvested thirty 50 lb bags of rice. She borrowed a local donkey cart to transport the rice to her house.
She sold all the rice one bag at a time from her home, as local people came to buy from her. Because the rice was locally grown and very good, she sold out (she kept some seed for next year). She made over $300 -  more money than she has ever made!
She was very pleased with results and thanked Andando for the help.  Now that her loan is paid back, someone else in the community can borrow the money as the loans revolve in order to give everyone a chance.
She concluded her remarks by saying: "We want to escape from Poverty.  We will work hard.  Our whole community will benefit".
These encouraging stories illustrate a key principle of how Andando is operated - a little bit of money goes a long way.  You don't have to spend vast amounts of money to make a big difference, indeed the opposite is often true. And we don't have a lot of overhead, in fact very little.  We like to keep things efficient and productive.
It doesn't take a lot of money to change someone's life.

Grand Opening of Thiamene Taba Health Post

IMG_5651 The rural health post in Thiamene Taba, Senegal is now officially open! Through hard work and a great deal of community organizing, this project came together and is now operational. This facility will handle basic health services and the delivery of babies in the village.

Access to health care in remote parts of Senegal is extremely limited, which is further exacerbated by problematic road conditions and unreliable transport. To seek treatment, people must walk long distances or find transport of some form, which often means hitching a ride on a cart drawn by a donkey. While this works some of the time, it is extremely problematic in emergency situations, especially in cases of child birth.

IMG_5640

This health post will greatly alleviate problems associated with these situations. Three village members have received extensive training from the government and gained experience at nearby health clinics. They will staff the facility and be on call for emergency situations. They also provide services like monthly child-weighing to monitor for malnutrition and basic first aid. The health post will also be used to host vaccination efforts and clinics from outside organizations.

IMG_5679

We recently had the opportunity to attend the grand opening of the facility, and it was quite the occasion! Many local and regional dignitaries attended, gave speeches, and noted the importance of steps like these in the health of rural areas. The fact that many local chiefs, mayors, health workers, and even a parliamentarian were there shows just how vital these efforts are in village life.

The facility has four rooms - a delivery room with full plumbing, a recover room for new mothers to stay (also with plumbing), a treatment/consultation room, and a large waiting room area with seating. As the use of the health post develops, we will work with regional partners to fully equip the post with everything it needs.

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We are very excited to be a part of broadening health care access in Senegal and to see the health of this village and the surrounding community benefit because of it. It was very encouraging throughout the process in working alongside community partners and seeing them mobilize and create a real momentum that will carry this project to success.

A huge THANK YOU to all our partners who helped make this a reality!

 

I am Proud to Contribute

We continue our series with the women of the Keur Soce women’s garden cooperatives. These women are bringing beautiful gardens to life in the middle of harsh and arid conditions in rural Senegal. To learn more about the program and these women, here is part one and part two. Today, we speak with Awa Nair. Awa Nair 1

What have you learned working with Andando in the market gardens in the past year?

I learned the practice of gardening techniques, such as how nurseries work, making garden beds, how to plant, how to maintain plants, how to pick fruit & vegetables, etc. Through the training workshops we learned to vary the garden according to the needs of the market and other important practices.

How has your participation in the project changed what you believe about yourself?

My cash income has increased and I can add more to our household budget. I feel proud that I am able to contribute more toward the success of our household.

How has this project changed what you believe about your community?

The garden and Andando helps women's groups. So I think that the project called the community into a union and the organization of the work. Before, everyone was in solitude in income-generating activities, but with this project increases our chance of having a better income. The project has created the availability of vegetables and allowed their geographic accessibility because we sell the produce in the local vegetable market.

Awa Nair 3 (with Garden Manager Mandou Ba)

How has the project changed what you believe about the future?

We must capitalize on this and develop it not only we who are currently beneficiaries, but, for future generations of women in the community. And also why not for men?

How has the project changed what you spend your time on?

The project has especially changed the use of our time in the afternoon because we had not much to do. Now, we are in the garden in the afternoon, watering as we do in the morning. On the other hand, today we have the impression of having lost a lot of time before the arrival of Andando. As a result, we feel to be relieved by Andando both individually and collectively. It gives us work for the entire year.

How does your dedication in this project show?

We put in everything up to the limit of our capacity,physical and intellectual, because we are the beneficiaries of this great program.

How has the project changed you as a person?

I now know that a woman can support herself in everyday expenses and does not have to rely on the men for everything.

How does this make you feel about the future?

Our dynamic organization will be strengthened, and with that, the income of households will be increased. We see ourselves developing and we can take that into our own hands.

We Are No Longer Unemployed, We Are Gardeners

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We continue our series with the women of the Keur Soce women's garden cooperatives. These women are bringing beautiful gardens to life in the middle of harsh and arid conditions in rural Senegal. To learn more about the program and read part one of this series, click here. Today, we speak with Kardiata Ba.

What have you learned as a member of the Keur Soce women’s garden project?

The vegetable garden has strengthened my abilities in new cultivation techniques. Of course, before this market garden, I was trying to practice gardening but it did not succeed. We have learned to diversify the seeded area and now I know how to move forward.

How has your participation in the project changed what you believe about yourself?

It has allowed me to gain a sense of freedom and pride since I am making more income. I am able to pay for many things – especially for my children – that was not possible before.

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The garden has made the community more united and organized. Working together empowers the whole community and we are becoming more successful together.

How has the project changed what you spend your time on?

There is awareness of the importance of time. Indeed, we have discovered that time is investment capital. Before, we spent a lot of time and hard work in the savannah looking for tamarind, jujube, or pick up a few handfuls of peanuts left in the field, but were left with very little. Now, we the effort we put in here, we make much better use of our time.

What else are you doing differently?

With the savings we contribute each month into our group savings, we believe that tomorrow we can achieve a degree of financial autonomy for the budget of our activities especially for things like tools, seeds, and maintenance.

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It has made me believe that rural women can actively participate in the development of the community and of Senegal.

How does this make you feel about the future?

The entire community knows that we are no longer the unemployed. We are gardeners.

How has the project changed the future of the community?

The development of the community can benefit from the support of partners such as Andando Foundation. The women working here consider have two major advantages: the economic and nutritional aspects. With these tangible benefits throughout the community things are improving, and we encourage Andando to accompany us yet for new challenges.

The Potential that Sleeps in Us

IMG_5086 Andando has worked hard over the last several years to establish thriving vegetable gardens in the arid peanut region of Senegal, in the community of Keur Soce. Working with local groups, we installed wells and solar-powered pumps to irrigate gardens run by women’s cooperatives. They have responded by working hard and dedicating themselves to the success of the garden and the hope it can give for a better future. Beyond the initial investment, our Garden Technicians work with these partners on a daily basis to provide technical assistance, special training workshops, and other support.

We recently sat down with Dieynaba Ba – one of the women in the co-ops – to discuss what the project has done for her and the changes she has felt, both in herself and in her community. Despite being one of the oldest members of the cooperative, Ba is extremely dedicated and is out in the garden everyday. The interview was conducted by Massamba Ndiour, Andando’s Keur Soce Project Manager.

What have you learned in your time working with Andando and the garden?

Through working in this garden with Andando, my abilities in vegetable cultivation techniques have been developed and strengthened. I learned what is organic (no fertilizer or pesticide), what serves as a nursery, how to make garden beds, and how to sustain the beds. I learned to diversify the seeded area to increase production and maintain soil quality.

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This garden vegetable has allowed me to acquire a new spirit of entrepreneurship. I understand now that I can be more productive during the nine months of the dry season in Senegal. This garden has increased my income and given me hope.

How has this project changed what you believe about your community?

Union is strength. It reminds us that the community must continue to unite and organize themselves. Indeed, we are working as a collective status toward the common good of the women members. Andando emphasizes the aims not of the individual personal, but that of the group.

For me, the vegetable garden has strengthened the women and given us knowledge in the chain of values for the vegetables - production, marketing and consumption. So, I am excited about the future with the capabilities gained in this Market Garden with the presence of Andando.

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First, we realize more and more that time is precious. Then consider that, before this project, the nine months of dry season were long and unprofitable economically. Now, we plan our activities on the basis of the work in the garden.

The rainy season is brief in Senegal. After this period it is usually the housework that dominated the rest of the year. There was a little trade, but it was not much. Some women wandered in the bush to cut wood to sell, other harvested wild berries. All these activities left us very tired and yet yielded almost nothing. We did not want to sit everyday and do nothing, but there were little options. However today, the Market Garden is nearby and is less tiring and more cost-effective than what we were doing.

How does this make you feel about the future?

There is more awareness of the potential that sleeps in us. We feel that can create more wealth. The future is promising if we stay engaged with determination.

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We love to hear stories like this and personal testimonies of the impact these projects are making! Check back with us on Wednesday for another interview with one of the women of the garden.

Workshop Success...and a Near Riot!

photo We recently conducted a small business workshop as part of our ongoing efforts to equip the villagers of Keur Soce with skills to help them thrive on their own. They have diligently worked over the past few years to build a successful garden in the midst of difficult conditions. They have worked to build up the soil, carefully monitored for pests, consistently watered everyday, attentively grown crops from seeds, and organized themselves into operating teams.

They are starting to see real success in the volume and quality of produce they are harvesting, but now we want them to take the next step. The goal from the outset of this was to not only provide additional nutritive options for themselves and the community, but also allow them to produce enough to sell, creating a vital income generation stream. Now being in that position, we are developing their business skills so that they can identify markets for their produce, learn ways to be competitive and grow, and create an efficient delivery system.

meetingThere is some knowledge of these ideas in the village, but they are often confined to very small markets with little or no room for growth and the thought of expanding (outside their small community) seems daunting. And as with any economic system, there is potential for those with little knowledge to be taken advantage of, dissolving any possibility for growth and profit.

With this in mind, we brought the women together to teach and inspire them down this road. To say they got excited is an understatement!

Teaching largely through storytelling, the women really connected with the ideas and were enthusiastic about adopting the new practices. As the meeting went on, the crowd grew more excited and starting shouting about what this new knowledge could do for them. While the pictures don't do it justice, the event got pretty intense. Fearing there might be small riot, our instructor - Andando Founder Kevin Kiker - asked our interpreter what was happening. He said "they are just so happy!" Another woman stood up and shouted "This is a wake-up call!!", and everyone joined in the shouting and some began dancing.

happy active lady....slightly different that most business seminars in America!

Time will tell exactly what principles they took away from the whole event, but seeing this enthusiasm was very encouraging. This is the first business workshop in a series with these women, so it will be great to see where this goes. We are hopeful this inspiration will translate into new action toward development, and we really appreciate all the excitement!