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.
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:
"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.
"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.
"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."