Monday, December 6, 2010

As life throws curves your way...make it into a dance

This blog is currently being updated by CTI Volunteer and Africa Committee Vice Chair, Andrea Brovold. Andrea and CTI's Executive Director, Roger Salway, are traveling through Senegal and Mali to demonstrate one of CTI's newest set of devices, the Thresher and Winnower. This new set of equipment can help subsistence farmers increase the quality of their grain and reduce waste--nearly doubling their grain yield.

The first leg of our trip funded by NCBA/USAID proved to be more sweeping than the roads to Tambacouda or the sonsie of Manet's Le dejeuner sur l'herbe.

Emotions and purpose were at a elevated level, due to the nature of this project. Our project objectives that were pre-set for us by NCBA was to increase yields and incomes of the current 30 farmer's whose annual income combined was approximately $40,000. Combined.

The more villages and meetings we tended to, the more apparent the voices became. Meetings with directors of programs such as Action Aid, CARITAS, CLUSA, Counterpart, and the 4 villages we introduced to our technology to, and more importantly, our spirit to, will forever be changed. Through a mutual respect for cultural differences, and also a desire to transfer technology to a sustainable community is the basis of CTIs mission, and one I feel we were able to accomplish in many ways. I will not forget Rokyhah, a 12 year old girl at the Kuer Ali Guey village who needed very little coaxing, and began instructing others how to "tighten the burrs...we need finer flour." I was quick to have Bamba translate for me so I could instruct her how to clean and disassemble/reassemble the grinder. The village will be successful because of the hard working women I have met. Let us all celebrate these women for the intrinsic value they provide their communities.

Without the high level of organization set prior to our departure, as well as the preparedness of our in-country partner's in Yaguemar and Bamba, this project would have not been as successful as it was. Proudly, Roger (Executive Director), myself, and Bamba (our In-country partner) have decided to donate our current prototypes of CTI's thresher and winnower ( also made possible by collaboration with Thom and Reade from Battelle Institute in Columbus, Ohio) to complete the set of the grinder already purchased by USAID.

It was the voices and the faces of the women, men and children that resonate loudly in my thoughts. What we were able to accomplish in 5 minutes, would traditionally take a woman 40 minutes. Awa, who was the village leader at Kayemon, (a highly organized and populated location on the boarder of The Gambia and Senegal) spoke to the Heavens about how beneficial our equipment had proven to be to them-especially the women who, in order to get the children off to school in time, or the home prepared, and dinner served, would normally work from sun-up to sun-down. Another from the same village exclaimed "If you could visualize our interest in CTI's equipment, it would be as tall as a skyscraper!". So as we drudged our way though the trials and tribulations of each village visit, I was pleasantly reminded one morning that it truly is a dance we must create from all life has to offer. For dancing brings smiles to everyone.

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