In this video, watch Bambé Boiro reading a children’s book written by Tostan’s Head of Programs, Ibrahima Giroux, with a girl in her community.

Living in the tucked away village of Lislam in the Kolda region of southern Senegal, Bambé Boiro is not only a mother of five children, but also a leader in her community since participating in the Tostan Community Empowerment Program (CEP). At the age of 34 years old, she took on the roles of secretary of the Community Management Committee (CMC), which was established during the CEP to lead development activities: secretary of the village’s rotating savings and loan group for women and secretary of a village association for mothers of school students. 

These numerous responsibilities motivated Bambé to take advantage of each opportunity to promote the development of her village and reinforce her leadership capabilities. So when Tostan’s Reinforcement of Parental Practices (RPP) Module began in Lislam in March 2013, she was eager to participate. This new Tostan module focuses on teaching parents about early childhood development and the important role that parents play in preparing their children to succeed in school.  Through class sessions held three times a week and bi-weekly individual home visits by facilitators, the program teaches parents the value of interacting with children ages 0 to 2 years old and how they can incorporate simple techniques to support their child’s linguistic, emotional and social development.

Recognized for her strong participation in the RPP class and her leadership skills, in July Bambé was nominated by her fellow community members to be an ‘Expert Primary Caregiver,’ taking part in the RPP team’s recent activities that aimed to ensure the sustainability of the project.  In order to investigate strategies for  ensuring the continued diffusion and reinforcement of parental education after the Tostan module was completed, Bambé and 47 other RPP class participants from 24 villages across four regions of Senegal were trained to undertake the individual home visits usually conducted by facilitators. During the month of August, these specially trained participants, including Bambé, carried out the individual home visits due to take place while the program facilitators were on vacation. It was during this period that community leaders like Bambé got the chance to work one-on-one with the other parents in their community.

The experiment demonstrated the dedication of RPP participants to continue reinforcing the themes of the RPP even after the program ends. Bambé says her role lets her witness the changes before her very eyes. “Now, people understand the importance of interacting with their babies; even children in the street imitate the interactions between parents and their babies.”

Bambé is determined to continue teaching parents about the importance of interacting with their children through her work carrying out home visits. She continues to promote practices that encourage early brain development not only to other parents in her village, but in her own family with her husband and five children. She knows that her biggest impact will be on the future of her children.


Story by Emma Giloth, Tostan