More Than Just Vegetables - Cultivating Peace and Solidarity

This is Khady Thiam who has been working in the Ngor Marone Market Garden for the last few years, and selling the produce she doesn’t eat at home, for profit on a street-side stall:

 "Before the installation of the garden, I encountered enormous difficulties to satisfy my needs. Since Andando has come to this area, this story has changed."  
  
   
   
  
    
  
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"Before the installation of the garden, I encountered enormous difficulties to satisfy my needs. Since Andando has come to this area, this story has changed."

"I have learned so much since my time with Andando began, I learned a lot about market gardening techniques, determination, teamwork, and the spirit of cultivating peace and solidarity in a given group. I also learned the spirit of helping one another and sharing. It is great that we depend on each other, and we distribute what we can spare to our parents who come to visit us. We are now able to grow, harvest, and give them some extra so they don’t have to buy it in the market, or travel to Kaolack to get it. Andando has allowed us to live well, as we use the vegetables after harvest and we cook without spending the last penny.

Thanks to Andando, I work in the garden, I earn my income honestly and with dignity, I respond to my material and financial needs, and I solve my problems without reaching out to anyone. Then, thanks to Andando, I do not buy any more vegetables for my meals as I always use vegetables from the garden for family meals. I am able to respond to the aspirations and schooling of my children, and I can make my contribution on treating the illnesses of my children. Last year, after sharing the profits with the other women, I had over $200 to enjoy the Tabaski celebration! I was able to use it to sew new clothes for my little ones and I bought supplies for the festival, as do so many other families. I was even able to help my son who was an intern at the Kaolack Regional Hospital.

I respond to my material and financial needs… . I am able to respond to the aspirations and schooling of my children.

The community of Keur Soce has advanced through the contributions of Andando through the gardens, and since then we feel the economic and social benefits for everyone. Anyone in the community can come to get vegetables at our gardens, in the morning as well as in the evening. Then, the community does not need to travel as much to buy vegetables in Kaolack, they are cheaper, and everyone saves time and money on transport.

Thanks to the Andando project, I earn a decent living. I no longer ask for help from people to solve my problems. Contrarily, it is the people who come to ask me to lend them money to meet their needs. Before the installation of the garden, I encountered enormous difficulties to satisfy my needs. Since Andando has come to this area, this story has changed.

 At work in the Ngor Marone Market Garden

At work in the Ngor Marone Market Garden

The project has allowed me to be more organized, and to have the sense of priority and solidarity in the group. I get up early in the morning to go to the garden to take care of watering and crop maintenance, then I go back home to take care of the housework. On the days that I need to leave very early for Kaolack in search of something I need, my partner at the garden – Mrs. Diop – is able to water, hoe and maintain if necessary. So on my return, I join the garden in the afternoon to do the same as my friend. With Andando, we have the sense of organization, we are very organized and we collaborate well between friends.

For the future of the project, I am really optimistic. We know that for the project to be viable, it would be necessary that the women of the gardens never give up, they should continue their dynamism and their determination.

I want say a big thank you to all of our supporters! There are all those who work for our benefit overseas, but also the dedicated Mr. Sy, who works for the good of the community of Keur Soce, Then, without forgetting Mandaw Ba, the coordinator of the garden technicians, Mr. Camara, and all that work for Andando from near or far."

Summer Loan Distribution- Just In Time For Planting

 Recipients of this year's microloan distribution, many of which are farmers, will be able to expand their plantings and harvest - just in time for the rainy season!

Recipients of this year's microloan distribution, many of which are farmers, will be able to expand their plantings and harvest - just in time for the rainy season!

We recently had a loan distribution event where dozens of local farmers received a loan to assist with the planting of their fields as the rainy season progresses. We have been doing this program for over 10 years and have experienced life-changing results for many involved. With over a thousand loans going out over the years, we have had about a 98% pay back rate!

 Ibrahima, a second-time loan participant, took his $100 loan and turned it into $1,000!

Ibrahima, a second-time loan participant, took his $100 loan and turned it into $1,000!

This is Ibrahima Gueye, a farmer who lives in the village of Keur Diene, near Keur Soce. He is a father of eight, four boys and four girls. We recently sat down with him to ask him about his participation in our microloan program. Many of these farmers cannot afford the inputs to plant their fields, or end up going to exploitative lenders who then eat up all the profits they might have gained. With Andando’s no-interest loans, people are able to keep what they earn and begin to emerge from this cycle of poverty.

Andando has been instrumental in this area, not only through this financing plan, but also in the areas of health, education, and agriculture.

This past year I received a loan of $100.  With these funds increased my farmable land to 1.5 hectares [approx. 3.7 acres] by having it plowed.  This cost about $40. From there, I used $15 to buy watermelon seeds, and the rest of the money went toward other inputs to build up the other maize fields I had planted. That is how I spent the money, then I worked the fields and waited.

 Andando staff, Camara (pictured left), recording the loan distribution amounts and repayments.  

Andando staff, Camara (pictured left), recording the loan distribution amounts and repayments.  

It was incredible, because after the season, I earned over $800 by selling the watermelons and sold 10 bags of maize for $200. This means that I had an overall income of $1,000 during the overwintering period, and it is directly thanks to the loan that brought me all this output and great returns. In addition, I also kept nine bags of maize for my family's sustenance during the dry period. So, the loan has brought me a lot of economic change, but also sociological, by contributing to my dignity, my being and the improvement of my income.

The loan has brought me a lot of economic change, but also sociological, by contributing to my dignity, my being and the improvement of my income.

This project has been very beneficial for us and our community. It is helping us to be more sustainable in our lives. We must in turn make this program sustainable by always respecting the time of payment of our loans, think about our material and financial empowerment, and then Andando could develop new programs to allow others to benefit from the loan.

 Andando staff Camara (left) and Mandaw (right) along with the mayor of Keur Soce distributing funds to this year's loan recipients.

Andando staff Camara (left) and Mandaw (right) along with the mayor of Keur Soce distributing funds to this year's loan recipients.

I want to thank Andando very much, because this is the second time I have received a loan. I thank the whole Andando team and staff for working for the success of the project and the commune of Keur Soce."

From all of us at Andando, thank you for supporting these life-changing programs.  

Korité - A Celebration of the End of Ramadan

For many, today marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.  (For more on Ramadan, click here.)  Islam is the largest religion in Senegal and many of our staff and partners have been observing Ramadan for the past 30 days.

Korité, is the celebration of the end of Ramadan.  An important holiday in Senegal – Korité  can last for several days!  As with any celebration in Senegal there will be vibrant colors, delicious food and much music and dancing.

 Celebrating the harvest with impromptu dancing.  You can see buckets being used as drums.

Celebrating the harvest with impromptu dancing.  You can see buckets being used as drums.

Often times, families will travel back to their villages to spend this holiday with their extended family.  Most will have new clothes made special for the occasion.  Gifts are often given and extra special meals will be prepared.  So for many, Korité can be a costly venture.

 Produce tables, like this one, are common along roads and other high traffic areas.

Produce tables, like this one, are common along roads and other high traffic areas.

Participants in the garden projects benefit not only from the cost-savings of growing their own food, but they can also bring in additional income by selling their excess produce during Korité.

We wish all our friends safe travels this Korité!

Student Field Trip!

  Students from three partner schools in Keur Soce enjoying the Dakar Zoo on the annual Student Field Trip.

Students from three partner schools in Keur Soce enjoying the Dakar Zoo on the annual Student Field Trip.

One exciting activity we sponsor is an annual field trip for students at our partner schools. Students jump on a couple buses to spend two days in Dakar visiting various sites of interest like Goree Island, the Dakar zoo, National Parliament, and the African Renaissance Statue.

For many, this may be their first time seeing the ocean, the animals in the zoo, and perhaps even their first time out of the community. This low-cost program can really open the eyes of many of these students, and is a fun activity to look forward to and motivating factor for those graduating out of primary school.

  Tour guide at Goree Island sharing the history and significance of the site.

Tour guide at Goree Island sharing the history and significance of the site.

This year's trip is coming up in just a few months, when more than 100 new students will get to experience many of these things for the first time!

This is only possible because of your support - thank you for broadening horizons for these students. 

We Have Become Dynamic & Entrepreneurial Women

Khoredia Mbodji has been the president of the Keur Niene Serere Market Garden, since its inception three years ago. She is a strong and determined woman who is a leader in her community and she is proud of what they have accomplished. Keur Niene Serere also recently received a brand new Community Health Post where mothers can safely deliver and others can seek basic care. We sat down with Mbodji to ask her about her experience working with Andando.

 Mbodji watering her onions.

Mbodji watering her onions.

“I have learned so much since Andando has joined us in Keur Niene Serere. Andando has brought us a garden and a health post for our population and the surrounding villages. Through these investments, we were taught the new techniques of market gardening and all organic methods. Before, we mostly grew only one thing during one season, but now we have mastered other techniques for many types of gardening and techniques to develop nurseries, as well as the reforestation of trees.

“Since the arrival from Andando to the Keur Soce area, we have improved our socio-economic living conditions. We manage to grow vegetables, sell some of them to earn money to take care of some of the daily problems of the family, and contribute to the schooling of my children. Andando allowed us to have access to organic vegetables that are prepared in our different meals. Previously, we bought these vegetables at a premium in Kaolack. Now, we have these vegetables, we also sell them at the weekly markets and we sometimes give some to our family members who come to visit us.

 Cabbages growing at Keur Niene Serere Market Garden fed by water drawn from the solar-powered pump.

Cabbages growing at Keur Niene Serere Market Garden fed by water drawn from the solar-powered pump.

“The project has changed many things in our day-to-day life: access to vegetables, getting used to working or undertaking agricultural activities, and helping to improve our health. We have become dynamic and entrepreneurial women. Before the arrival of Andando, we spent all our time under the trees just discussion things that led us to nothing. However, since the arrival of Andando, the activity of the garden has become our main concern.

“Not only is this important for our community, but the project extends its effects to the broader population with the gardening and the health component. The community has access to vegetables that they did not previously, and we are able to seek care and treatment in our own village. Even more so, the surrounding villages come to stock up on vegetables and seek healthcare in Keur Niene without having to make the laborious and expensive trip to Kaolack and back. Everyone feels the positive impacts of these programs.

 Members of the Keur Niene Serere Market Garden attend a workshop in the garden.

Members of the Keur Niene Serere Market Garden attend a workshop in the garden.

“These things have contributed much to my dignity and well-being. First, it allowed me to have knowledge in market gardening, then it allowed me to be autonomous socially and financially. Before the arrival of Andando, there was not much for me to do. I struggled to manage my problems on a daily basis, and I had to ask for social assistance from my neighbors in the village. Generally, it was disheartening. Now thanks to Andando, I became a fighter, because I work in the garden and I manage to meet my needs and those of my family and my children. With Andando, poverty here is being reduced. I do not hold out my hand and even if I borrow money, I intend to repay in the time because with the garden I am a woman in activity and employment.

“In the future, we hope to do even more, like try to have toilets in every house in our community, setting up a poultry project for the women, and strengthening the capabilities of the Health Post.

“With the efforts of all those involved, we have the tools to succeed. I give my thanks from near and far to everyone in Andando contributing to the completion of the work.”

From the Director

My family and I recently returned from a three month stay in Senegal. We had a blast being there together and spending time both in the city and the country, enjoying good food, interesting culture, and making new friends. It was a great opportunity to have our young son experience another culture and see more of the wide world out there, and we all escaped much the dreary Oregon winter!

 One of our favorite experiences is enjoying a meal with friends and co-workers.  Here our son is learning how to eat rice and fish Senegalese-style.

One of our favorite experiences is enjoying a meal with friends and co-workers.  Here our son is learning how to eat rice and fish Senegalese-style.

Usually, my time is brief and busy managing programs and meeting with partners, so this extended stay offered the chance to spend more time with our team and immersing myself more in the culture and language. Most importantly, it allowed us to get a big jumpstart on all the programming we have planned for this year. We are doing three more gardens this year, working with more partner schools, and building two new health posts, alongside running our existing programs.

We are really excited for what is coming this year, and because of your partnership, we are continuing to make strides in walking together with the people of rural Senegal. Your contribution makes these programs possible.

 

-From all of us at Andando, “jere jef!” - Thank you!

"We Are More Engaged and Ready to Take Action!"

In honor of International Women's Day, and the nearly 1500 women participating in our market garden program in Senegal, we bring you the story of Combe Ndiaye. Ndiaye is president of one of the women's groups in Kouthieye Market Garden, who have been participating in our program since last July.

 Andando Staff with some member of the Kouthieye Women's Cooperative in their new garden.

Andando Staff with some member of the Kouthieye Women's Cooperative in their new garden.

Last year, the Kouthieye Women's Cooperative partnered with Andando in bringing the necessary infrastructure to make their small garden start thriving in the midst of difficult conditions in rural Senegal. In just a short time (barely six months!), they have turned their garden into a flourishing ecosystem that provides produce for the women and their families to consume, and plenty more for them to sell and earn an income. We sat down with Ndiaye and asked about her experience:

 Some of the initial harvests!

Some of the initial harvests!

"Andando has brought great change to our community. All of us women see an improvement not only in our ability to farm and produce many vegetables through this new system, but we also see big improvements in our organizational and social lives. It has galvanized us women to be more engaged with each other and also take more action in the life of the community. We are more direct participants and can create new ideas and change where we are.

"In regards to the produce, all the women of the gardens are able to take home all the vegetables they need to finally prepare good and nutritious meals. Before, we had to buy these vegetables elsewhere, taking time and money to travel to purchase them. They were also very expensive and without any quality like the fortified organic model that we do with Andando. Now we grow everything we need ourselves and do not have to depend on anyone.

 The pump system infrastructure, just after the water was turned on, with the seedlings just starting to come up. 

The pump system infrastructure, just after the water was turned on, with the seedlings just starting to come up. 

"Beyond consumption, we also sell another part of the harvest to make money to support our children and the family in general. With Andando, we are able to save money, help our husbands, and promote our health through the use of organic produce.

"As we are just beginning and are still learning, we sometimes encounter difficulties when markets are saturated. Through the help of Andando, we are learning to organize ourselves to sell our produce in the market of Kouthieye following a rotation among the many different groups. We are also pooling together to send representatives to sell the vegetables in weekly markets elsewhere like Ndoffane, Keur Maniable, and among others in Keur Soce.

 Checking out the progress with Garden Technician Mbaye Badiane

Checking out the progress with Garden Technician Mbaye Badiane

"With this new income, I am improving my living conditions. In the short term, I am trying to buy a wardrobe and a bed for my house. Longer term, it is helping me to take charge of my family and provide a more decent life for us all."

Initiatives That Change Lives

The programs built by you create real change in communities, just ask those who are impacted! Aida Niang has been working in the Sama Toucouleur Garden for the past couple years. She has benefitted from a boost in income, and her family has received a huge rise in their nutritional options at home.

 Aida Niang watering her eggplants

Aida Niang watering her eggplants

“Andando has changed my life, my status, and my profession. With Andando, I became an entrepreneurial woman. I had previously had no economic occupation, I always stayed at home without doing anything and I had much difficulty supporting my family, my husband and my children.

“Now, all the women of Sama Toucouleur feel the happiness in their faces, because Andando has brought change on the social, health, educational and agricultural level.

“In terms of health, Andando has made a health post at Sama Toucouleur allowing women to receive medical services before and during pregnancy, in delivery, and even after. Then, we bring our children when they are suffering from any disease, because treatment and medical visits are done without difficulty.

“They also work for the education of our kids, and Andando supports our schools by building classes. Further, with the children getting breakfast every day at school, this helps parents save and their children to thrive.

 Protecting seedlings under netting.

Protecting seedlings under netting.

“It can be said that Andando participates in changing the quality of life of the population of all of Keur Soce. When I started working in the garden, I became more worthy as I work there and earn my living. Before this, I solicited help everywhere to try to solve some of my needs, but with Andando, I regained my dignity. Everything depends on a good plan and the will to do it. Regarding the future of the project, we must keep working to perpetuate the activities of the garden. We will also train our children on the different techniques of the market garden. This will ensure the long-term sustainability of activities and the project.”

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

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.”