​Nyima Suwaneh lives by the common Tostan saying: “Put into practice what you learn.” She participated in our Community Empowerment Program (CEP) in Tinkinjo, The Gambia, from 2011 to 2013 and still applies the skills and knowledge she gained, especially as they relate to economic growth and environmental sustainability. These two topics resonated greatly with Nyima during the CEP and led her to take action to share her knowledge and skills with others.

Trained by fellow community member, Kaddy Jabbie, from the neighboring community of Kisi Kisi, Nyima learned how to make and sell bags, wallets, mobile phone holders and hats, often creating the designs by recycling plastic bags and old videocassettes. Nyima empowered herself economically through this endeavor, and now she trains and shares her knowledge with other members of the community.

She became the coordinator of her village’s Community Management Committee (CMC) and the president of the CMC Federation in Tumana and Kantora districts. As the CMC Federation president, she leads communities and fulfills the key objectives of the federations, which are to plan, implement and promote community-led sustainable development initiatives at a larger scale to encourage economic and social growth.

In March of 2014, Nyima was invited to share her knowledge at a national practical knowledge fair on environmental and sustainable development in Basse, The Gambia, hosted by Wuli and Sandu Development Agency (WASDA) and Concern Universal. At the three-day event, participants, organizations and partners learned from each other’s program objectives, best practices and challenges.

Nyima’s design skills and products were a source of attraction to many who attended the fair from different parts of the country. More importantly, though, she used this opportunity to share how to promote sustainable environmental protection practices and poverty reduction. 

Leaders like Nyima Suwaneh help spread the knowledge gained during our program. Through her work and example, she is facilitating positive, sustainable change in her community and beyond.

Story by Edrisa Keita, Assistant National Coordinator, Tostan Gambia (Basse)