From tarmac roads to dusty tracks dotted on either side of the lush countryside that comes alive with the first rains, it was a long journey to take part in the Journées d’Entente Communautaire (Community Understanding Days). These were organized in the Tambacounda and Sédhiou regions as part of the QED project: “Quand elle dirige, tout le monde réussit” (“When she leads, everyone succeeds”) supported by Global Affairs Canada.
The aim of these days is to involve men and adolescent boys who aren’t enrolled in Tostan classes in community action. In this way, they reinforce their commitment to human rights and class-related activities. These days are also an opportunity for the communities to report on the changes they have noted since the implementation of the project, which aims to support whole community wellbeing through empowerment of female leaders, and to encourage them to make these changes permanent.
Community Understanding Days were organized in 30 partner communities in the Tambacounda, Kédougou, Kolda and Sédhiou areas in Senegal. Communities were selected during the Community Capacity Building Program (CCBP) phase of the “When she leads, everyone succeeds” project from among 100 partner communities.
The Community Understanding Days held on July 19 in the commune of Goumbayel (Tambacounda) and on July 21 in the commune of Djiredji (Sédhiou) were attended by local and administrative authorities, members of the Community Management Committees, and 5 partner communities (in each commune). Community members organized themselves into working groups – men and women – made up of adults and young people, to answer a series of questions about the impact the project has had on their lives.
When the results of this group work were presented to the participants, a number of important decisions emerged, such as :
- Increased registration of children at the civil registry office and at school
- The abandonment of harmful practices (child marriages, forced marriages)
- Promotion of non-violence,
- Involvement of women, girls and boys in community decision-making,
- Stronger feeling of community unity,
- Sanitation activities for better environmental protection.
In addition, aware of the positive impact the project has had on their community, participants said they would like to see the project replicated in all their neighboring communities.
The most striking testimonial from the JECs was given by a woman at the Goumbayel JEC, who described the efforts of t in the following terms:
The [Community Understanding Days] are like ice poured on fire
Photos from the Community Understanding Days