Below is the second of a two-part series written by Emma Giloth, Assistant to the Reinforcement of Parental Practices Module, featuring the Senegalese community of Kolma Dior Dior as they participate in the RPP.

Participants sing a song during the 32nd session of the Reinforcement of Parental Practices (RPP) Module. “Sunu gis gis lanuy xamle, sunu gis gis lanuy waxtaane ngeen baal nu, danuy yeete” in the language of Wolof means, “We share our vision to educate others.”

Ndéye Astou Diouf, was getting ready to host the 32nd Reinforcement of Parental Practices (RPP) class session, which focused on how to teach children the importance of social intelligence. After greeting everyone, Mr. Thiam and I found ourselves a seat in the back. His wife, who was a regular participant, passed him his one year old son. Mr. Thiam was the only man in the room, but he was not embarrassed.  He spoke to his baby boy confidently, demonstrating his love for his child and his dedication to promoting his son’s language abilities.

Over 30 women were packed into the room carrying all of the children’s books and training materials that come with the course. Tostan has created 20 children’s books specifically for the RPP Module, written in three national languages and designed around Senegalese cultures and traditions. These books serve as tools to teach the themes of each class and provide parents with their own teaching resources that they can use at home with their children.

Today’s lesson on social intelligence introduced the book “Kewel bu Rafet” (in Wolof) or “The Beautiful Doe.” This picture book tells the story of a young deer who wants to grow millet to make couscous, but each time she asks her animal friends to help her plant, harvest, and prepare the millet, they each refuse. Later, when the beautiful doe has her delicious meal prepared after lots of hard work, her friends want to eat but she rejects them, asking them why they think she should share her meal when they would not share the work. They realize their mistake and the story ends showing all of the animals working together to plant and harvest a variety of crops.

After reading the story as a group, the class burst into discussion about the importance of helping one’s friends and community. The lively chatter soon attracted children who had been playing outside and men returning from working in the fields. In not too long, the classroom was overflowing with children and many people were leaning in through the windows, anxiously trying to take a look at the new books.

Later, as we said goodbye to Chief Cheikh Thiam and the other participants in the class, I looked over and saw a group of elderly men under a tree looking through the new books. One of them was reading out loud ‘Kewel bu Rafet’. It was a reminder that the effects of Tostan’s work continue outside of the classroom through the diffusion of information throughout the community.

The partnership between Tostan and the village of Kolma Dior Dior is so promising because of the community’s enthusiasm for knowledge and dedication to building a better future of their children. Leaders like Cheikh Thiam are paving the way for a new way of thinking about the traditional parent-child relationships. These changes take time, but with strong leaders, a dedicated and dynamic community, and access to resources and support, the possibilities for the children of Kolma Dior Dior are endless.

If you missed Part One of this series, check it out here.