Monday, October 25, 2010

Women's Group Part 2

Today marked the first Thies lunch in forever, which wasn't also a meeting for the girls' camp. We all convened at Croissant Magique, yes that's Magical Croissant in French, and had a nice lunch together. It was Clare's, the new Urban Ag PCV in Thies, first lunch and she got to meet some new people which was cool. The lunch also served as an opportunity for Katherine and I to take some pictures for the artisan expo. Successful lunch.

After lunch Emily, Clare, and I headed back out to the women's group that Emily and I visited last week. I'm really starting to like the women. They are all very nice and seem really motivated. They also appear to have everything together, almost too together. This is a well established women's group in Thies which has close ties to Dakar and has done tons of formations through my office in Thies and has had a lot of support in the past so it's a little worrisome that they haven't take off yet, but hopefully with the three of us working with them from every angle they can make some real progress.

The thirteen women we meet with are part of a much larger organization of women which is in talks to rent a plot of land to do some micro-gardening. While Emily and Clare got to go on an adventure to go see the land, I got to stay behind and talk to some of the women about calendars and financial planning. Whaa whaa. Everyone knows I've always been the cool one... As I said last week, the treasurer knows what's going. They have almost 100,000 CFA tucked away under some bed, which is great. The only scary part about that is Tabaski, a huge holiday, is quickly approaching the week before Thanksgiving. A ton of money sitting around means they will most likely use it to buy goats, onions, potatoes, and clothes. I know they've worked really hard to save this money so I proposed saving 25k to use after Tabaski so they wouldn't have to start all over again. Supposedly this is going to happen. I also suggested they tuck away a certain percentage of their dues each week to use as capital investment and emergencies. This was also met with general agreement.

The women are very open to direction, almost too open. They really want me to tell them what to do, but after two meetings I don't have a good picture of what they've done or where they want to go. I am worried they really want to work in food transformation with the goal of exporting the goods to Europe and the US. That is a very lofty and fairly unrealistic goal for 13 women just starting up. I hope that the three of us PCVs can help them create realistic goals and then help them get there without straight out telling them what to do. I'm going back next Monday to really work with the Treasurer and do a group planning session. It will definitely be interesting.

Other than that I tortured myself by reading restaurant menus online. I don't know why I do it, but I can't help myself!


  1. Alyssa,

    What menus are you reading? Classy ones or any that you get your hands on? McDonald's now provides a lot of information that you don't really want to know. You probably had a better dinner than I. I had a meeting at JFGR which means a tuna sub from Jimmie Johns.


  2. Ally Weiskopf is still one of your most avid readers. Do you remember her mushroom and goat cheese bruschetta? I'll bet you can find the whole Olive's menu online. I also love her lettuce wraps and they have a cab that is like butter. Olives is a definite "must" while Matt is in GRap.
    I am excited about this womens group. You are not kidding when you say you and Emily have this covered from all angles. Something great is going to happen!