Monday, January 21, 2013

Social Mobilization Agents play key role in the movement for FGC abandonment in Kolda, Senegal

Article by Angie Rowe, Tostan Volunteer in Kolda, Senegal
What is the key to mobilizing entire social networks around the promotion of human rights? The answer is to utilize the greatest and most effective advocates for positive change: passionate community members themselves, social mobilization agents. 
Social mobilization is organized information-sharing through awareness-raising campaigns and activities.  In villages who are participating in Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP), teams of social mobilization agents are created to extend the reach of knowledge shared in CEP classes. This ensures that entire networks of people are informed and feel a part of any decision to promote positive social change in their area. Social mobilization teams also organize inter-village meetings to discuss important issues and achieve consensus on decisions affecting the extended social network.
As part of our continuing partnership with Orchid Project, two social mobilization teams were created in Kolda and Sédhiou in southern Senegal to lead awareness-raising activities that will engage neighboring communities around human rights and accelerate the movement for female genital cutting (FGC) abandonment in regions where rates are the highest. Read more about this social mobilization project in a great article on Orchid Project's blog.  
Each team consists of a supervisor and five social mobilization agents specifically selected for their skills in communication and their dedication to positive social change. This week we’re introducing you to the social mobilization team of Kolda and check our blog next week for the social mobilization team of Sédhiou!
The social mobilization team of Kolda working together to plan upcoming social mobilization activities in the region.
Thierno Yaayaa, Supervisor, Kolda

Thierno has been working for Tostan for nearly ten years, and is extremely experienced in social mobilization activities. One of his key areas is health, particularly in remote rural villages where access to healthcare is limited. His work with Orchid Project is a continuation of years of passionate service in the effort to help communities abandon harmful practices that hinder positive social change in Senegal. When he is not busy working with communities, Thierno likes to farm and occasionally works as a local merchant.

Fatoumata Balde, Social Mobilization Agent (SMA), Kolda
Born and raised in Kolda, Fatoumata enjoys creating positive change in local communities. She believes her work with Tostan is necessary and will aid the development of impoverished communities and decrease the rate of violence against women and children. As a social mobilization agent, she hopes to use her passion and her beliefs to promote FGC abandonment throughout Kolda. When not working, Fatoumata sells goods at the local market.
Lamarana Balde, SMA, Kolda
Lamarana is a Koranic scholar who enjoys working for Tostan because he believes that community participation is important to the development of his region. He hopes that the social mobilization teams are able to deliver important and accurate information to local villages, and in doing so, encourage them to abandon practices that are harmful to their health and development as a community. When not working with Tostan, Lamarana does agricultural work and teaches children in his village.
Moussa Diallo, SMA, Kolda
Moussa is a Marabout (religious teacher) in his village in Kolda. He works with Tostan because he is passionate about local health, youth education, and democracy. Moussa believes that complete abandonment of FGC is necessary to achieve progress throughout Senegal. When he is not working with Tostan he teaches the Koran to youth in his community.
Fatoumata Binta Balde, SMA, Kolda
Fatoumata believes that working with Tostan is extremely important, and she is dedicated to addressing the issues faced by young women and girls, specifically those related to child/forced marriage and FGC. She is particularly keen to share important knowledge about health with communities.  When not at work, Fatoumata enjoys cooking and finding new ingredients at the local markets.
Keloutang Diao, SMA, Kolda
Keloutang was born in Kolda and has seen the importance of good health in his village firsthand. He works with Tostan to fulfill important health needs in local communities that he believes are critical for development. Being a member of the social mobilization team, gives him the ability to directly participate in the development of his country. Outside of work he enjoys tending his garden and working with livestock.
The above portraits are based on short interviews that were held on an informal, respectful, and voluntary basis in the participants’ own language, with the assistance of an interpreter.

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Blog adapted by Salim Drame