Our year-end fundraising campaign is going strong! As a part of our campaign, we are highlighting different stories from Community Management Committees (CMCs) – democratically selected groups in each community trained in project development and management. CMCs plan and carry out local initiatives and truly lead the way in community development, providing inspiration as we head into the year 2013. Support their efforts by donating today or share this campaign with your friends and families.

Fatima Seidi and Awa Mané are trained in solar power maintenanceThe village of Mambonco in rural Guinea-Bissau’s cashew-growing heartland is proud to have a primary school within its limits, offering public education to several hundred children from the surrounding area. As is the case in most of the country, children’s study time is drastically limited by the hours of daylight. Guinea-Bissau’s electricity infrastructure, though improving, rarely reaches rural populations.

The Community Management Committee (CMC) of Mambonco, in partnership with India’s Barefoot College, has been able to implement a solution: affordable solar power. Two CMC members, Fatima Seidi and Awa Mané, were trained on solar panel maintenance and installation in India. Today, they work with the village CMC to ensure that the panels stay in good condition and reach as many residents as possible.

Residents pay the CMC a small monthly fee to rent a panel. The proceeds are kept in a fund which is used to support the solar engineer’s full-time work and to pay for replacement equipment. The additional revenue goes into the CMC’s community support fund, financing community development projects such as planting a community cashew orchard and lending money to small-business ventures in the village.

Story by Matt Boslego, Internal Communications Assistant, Tostan International