|Women of Soudiane Balla share their knowledge of |
the CEP with women from neighboring communities.
In this photo, a woman explains
the right to health care.
The stories I heard from the women about how they were treated before the program were astonishing. One woman told me a story of when she had needed to go into the next town for a checkup. She was six months pregnant, but her husband told her he wouldn’t take her, as it would be bad for the horse. So the woman walked seven kilometers to her doctor, and then seven back, endangering the life of herself and the baby. Now her son is the same age as me, and she tells me that now something like that would never happen.
“The men respect us more,” she told me. “They understand now that a wife is more valuable than a horse.”
|Women of Soudiane Balla |
during the clean-up day
Sitting in a comfortable American living room it’s easy to talk about one-step solutions, like installing water pumps or building schools, and yes, those are very important steps towards development. But sustainable, lasting change comes from education. Education of women, of men, of the whole community is needed to ensure that the village moves forward together, serving as an example for surrounding villages, for a region, and eventually a whole country. My three weeks in Soudiane taught me that when you put the tools in the hands of smart, committed, local individuals, they do so much more for the people on the ground than a government official ever could. It's true what they say: ‘Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach him to fish and feed him for life.' Fortunately for Soudiane, and thanks to Tostan, every man, woman, and child gets to learn how to fish.
|Lucy (top right) with village kids holding up their new Tostan children's books.|