Meet Nene, leader of the women’s Group of the Village of Chamen
Nene is the leader of the women’s group of the village of Chamen in the Upper Baddibu-District in The Gambia. She represents and directs all women of the village working in a 2 ha community garden.The garden is irrgated by a solar pumping and watering system. The system has been established four and a half years ago being the first system to be funded by Sabab Lou. In the meantime 3 other villages benefit from this type of systems providing potable water and water to irrigate a community garden. The whole project has reached a crucial phase now. It is intended to transfer ownership of the technical systems and the gardens to the villages. In this phase the leaders of the women’s groups play an important role. They know about their job being focussed on capacity building. If ownership is transferred to them the women themselves are in charge not only of growing and selling vegetables, but also of maintenance and repair of their system. It means to take responsibility. On November 5 we met Nene in Chamen.
SL (Sabab Lou): Nene, could you tell us something about yourself? Were you born in Chamen?
Nene: I was not born in Chamen. I moved here when I got married. Me and my husband have eleven children but two of them have passed away. They were sick. So today there are nine of them living.
SL: Where do you originally come from?
Nene: I am from Senegal and this is where I met my future husband. Our families are related. We got married and so I moved to Chamen.
SL: You are the leader of the women’s garden committee. What made you apply for this position?
Nene: I am happy to be the leader of the women’s garden committee. Because before we had the garden, people were tired. To pay our children’s school fees, to buy soap or to go to the hospital when we were sick – all of these things caused a problem. But with the help of the garden we are much better off, now. If we are sick, we have the money to go to the hospital, to buy any drug needed and to pay the school fees for our children. We can open the tap and have fresh water at any time. And since we have the garden, we have not bought onions or any other vegetables. Everything is available to us, now. This is why I am very happy to be the leader go the women’s garden committee.
SL: Which are the difficulties you are facing in your new position? Do people listen to you?
Nene: All the women are supporting me. Even if I would wake them up in the middle of the night, they would be ready to follow me.
SL: Is there anything that you would like to change concerning the garden? What could be ameliorated?
Nene: I am ready to change everything needed for us to work more and more. Because we want to move forward and increase our profit.
SL: How do you handle difficulties within the women’s group working in the garden?
Nene: We have made our own rules for the garden. And if people do not behave according to these rules, for example if they do not do the work they are supposed to do, this has consequences. Yes, we have our own system, our own rules.
SL: Working in the garden and selling vegetables enables women to generate an income for their families. Does this economical power strengthen women’s positions in your community?
Nene: Every year our knowledge about gardening increases. We start to work faster and more efficiently. And so our income is increasing.
SL: By the beginning of next year Sabab Lou will be handing over ownership of the watering system to your community. This gift comes along with great responsibilities. As a community you will be in charge of maintaining and sustaining the system. Are you ready to take that step?
Nene: In the beginning not everybody understood what this meant. But now we know that every dalasi (editor’s note: dalasi is the currency of The Gambia) we save will come back to us. And now we are using that money, saving that money for our community and for the maintenance of the system.
Vielen Dank, Nene, für das Interview!