Yermande also organizes local groups to work together promoting community economic development and environmental conservation. Yermande directors and volunteers help community members identify common problems and plan and implement a strategy to address these problems. Once these groups are established Yermande provides them with material assistance, including: financial support for reforestation efforts, building construction and maintenance support, and donated economic development materials including, craft supplies, tree seedlings, and garden seeds.
In 2007 Yermande directors helped establish the woman’s organization of Ndiguel Ndaiye village, in Senegal. The woman’s organization dyes traditional fabric, sews clothing and quilts, and offers sewing classes to all of its members. The resulting craft items are sold within the surrounding communities and internationally with the proceeds shared equally among the members. The women’s group is essential to Yermande’s reforestation efforts in the village and has also planted a community orchard and garden which provides an important source of food for the whole village. The women’s group also purchases raw peanuts and presses their own peanut oil which they sell and use the proceeds to fund their activities. Since the establishment of the women’s organization, women have frequently commentated on the great improvement that their cooperative efforts have had on their individual lives and the whole community. The money created by their craftwork and commerce has allowed them to provide for their own needs and those of their children, and the reforestation and gardening projects bring a vision of a greener and sustainable future. Working together to create their own income source and improve their surrounding environment has given them a new feeling of empowerment and unity.
This year Yermande began construction of a new building to house the Ndiguel Women’s Organization. It will consist of a large work room, a storage room and a small kitchen, as well as long, shady porch where the women can gather when it is too hot to be inside. There will also be a walled garden with vegetable beds and a tree nursery. This construction project will provide the women with a solid, safe location to continue their work to improve their community.
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