Every Friday, we will share the story of a member of the Tostan team. The wide range of people who contribute to Tostan each bring with them a unique perspective on community development, and use their talents and knowledge in important ways to make our programs possible.
It was a conversation over tea that sparked Moise to act and launched him into a volunteer role that would forever change the course of his life. As a liberal arts student in 2005 in Mali, Moise met a group of activists who, like him, were eager to promote human rights, using a woman-centered lens to remove barriers to health and wellbeing. Most of these student activists were doctors, but one of these doctors knew Moise and thought that his language and liberal arts background would be equally important in working with communities. It was this group that evolved into Project Muso Ladamunen – The Empowered Women’s Project.
Since that shared tea, Moise has played an active role working with the communities of Yirimadjo. Building on his communication skills, Moise has conducted countless community roundtable discussions, transcribing and translating the results to inform future program initiatives. The stories of the women in Yirimadjo resonated heavily with Moise, embodying the voice and experience of women from his childhood. He had begun to truly understand the value and importance of education and particularly literacy, delivered in local languages and the importance of human rights for all.
Moise worked to develop community action groups, which laid the foundation for a future partnership between Project Muso and Tostan. These groups served as focal points for community activism and awareness-raising, and participated in Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP) when the partnership between Tostan and Project Muso was established.
“The first training we did with Tostan was really a turning point for me,” Moise reflects sitting beneath a tree in the heart of Yirimadjo. “Through Tostan’s approach, I am no longer the same man; my perception of the world has changed.” This change has transformed Moise’s approach to interpersonal relationships with the realization that social harmony depends on how we react to others and requires that we be open and willing to understand another’s perspective before responding to a situation. He also learned how to facilitate discussion groups, how to create a space for idea-sharing and how to lead collective problem-solving.
It hasn’t always been easy. Working in community development, Moise has learned to be prepared for anything and to expect the unexpected. Constantly learning how to navigate the rough terrain of community expectations, misunderstandings, and misrepresentations, Moise earns the respect of everyone he meets. With a cool head, a poetic spirit and an arsenal of proverbs, Moise calmly mediates conflicts and builds paths for social cohesion and community development.
On the toughest of days, it is the memory of an elderly woman who had never been to school that keeps him going. The woman attended the first day of literacy classes, unable to hold a pencil. Now this same woman is a community messenger – writing notes for neighbors and friends.
Moise is now Project Muso’s Operations and Human Resources Manager, and is committed to building the Project Muso team using the foundation of facilitation that he has gained through his work leading the CEP in collaboration with Tostan in Yirimadjo. “A promise is a precious thing,” Moise says, and it is his promise to promote universal human rights that motivates his spirit.
Story by Kimberly Sama, International Managing Director for Project Muso