During the month of March, we’re continually inspired and impressed by the Women of Tostan. From our Tostan staff leaders to the women who have participated in our CEP and have become leaders in their community. They’ve found their voice and use it loudly for the benefit of everyone around them—affecting both the present for themselves and the future for their children and children’s children.
For 28 years, Penda Mbaye has worked with Tostan, finding the power of her own voice as she’s risen from CEP Facilitator to Senior Program Manager overseeing curriculum development and also training partners from around the globe in the Tostan approach. She has become an expert in human rights education and community development, and she can teach literacy in Wolof, her first language. Penda’s first post as a facilitator was in the village of Keur Mbaye Guèye in the Thiès region of Senegal. “Many people in the village were interested in what I was teaching. I used to see women going to class walking past my door much earlier than they needed to. I felt like I was really able to contribute to the community and help them improve.”
Penda continues to be inspired by Tostan’s approach and she helps ensure the curriculum is adapted to the constantly changing realities in the countries and communities Tostan works in. “A lot of development projects fail in Africa because donors and organizations impose their goals and make decisions without speaking to the communities first,” she says.
Every dollar received means Tostan’s vision and innovative approach to well-being spreads further and further, letting communities know their own visions and voices are heard when planning for their future. With this community-first approach to development, Penda says, communities are now able to say “the aid we want has to go toward this. This is our vision.”
Follow Tostan on social media and keep your eyes on your inbox the rest of the month to hear more Women of Tostan stories —their dreams, their work, and their success!