The community feels that staying true to human rights principles is the best way to ensure their sustainable progress.
Natia’s community took part in the Tostan program from 2007-2010. Through nonformal education techniques like storytelling, song and debate, 38 participants acquired knowledge of human rights, hygiene and health, democracy, problem-solving and other key themes. Each participant adopted a community member to share their knowledge with, and the whole village shared their new information with surrounding communities.
Village Chief Daby Diallo described some of the changes the village has seen since first starting the CEP in 2007. “People weren’t well informed before,” he explains. “Now, not only are people more aware, but there is a lot more dialogue in the village.”
A shift in consciousness is far from the only transformation that has taken place in the village. According to Diallo, the local environment has improved drastically. “Our village is a lot cleaner than it used to be thanks to the village clean-ups we have started to organize. We also now have a well and we have established a community garden with the community grant we received from Tostan after having completed the program.” The garden allows community members to sell products to other villages and enables them to save some of the earnings in a community microcredit fund for further initiatives.
Natia’s CMC, established in the initial phase of the CEP to lead development efforts in the village, remains active today, years after the program has ended. Consisting of 17 democratically-selected community members and currently led by Bolle Camara, the CMC meets on a monthly basis to make future plans for the village, discuss income-generating activities, and decide how to invest the earnings from initiatives such as the community garden. Their upcoming plans include the expansion of their community garden and the development of a local medical center.
When providing advice to others on how to ensure that the CMC stays active and the village dynamic, following the end of the program, Diallo stresses the importance of staying true to human rights principles. In order to maintain its relevance to the village, the CMC organizes revision workshops on a regular basis. “This is a great way to make sure that participants don’t forget what they have learned”, the chief concludes.
“We continue to organize revisions of each CEP session. We have a copy of the pictures that were used during class and we use these to continue our own discussions”
Daby Diallo, Village Chief in Natia, Senegal.