After the completion of Tostan’s nonformal education program, the Community Empowerment Program (CEP), participants apply the knowledge they gained to establish lasting change in their local and larger communities. Tostan supporters take a similar type of initiative. By utilizing the information they have learned about Tostan and our work in East and West African communities, our supporters organize local events to raise funds and awareness in support of these communities and their development efforts. Two recent events held by school groups in the US are great examples of this “thinking globally, acting locally” approach. 

In Charlotte, North Carolina, students from Myers Park High School held a discount women’s clothing sale this past December. It was one of the first events organized by their Clothes for Change group, whose goal is to contribute to women’s empowerment worldwide. The students raised money by selling new and gently used women’s apparel, and they decided to donate a portion of their proceeds to Tostan.

Having learned about Tostan through the Half the Sky Movement, the Clothes for Change group was impressed by Tostan’s commitment to empowering women and communities to lead their own development efforts, creating lasting and positive social change. They are looking forward to organizing more events in support of Tostan’s work and being able to increase their impact on women’s lives worldwide. 

Further south in Sherman, Texas, Austin College students, under the direction of Nancy Morgan, held their 7th Annual Tostan Awareness Dinner on April 2. The 154 student and faculty guests in attendance enjoyed good conversation, a selection of meat and vegetarian lasagna, and an array of information highlighting the focus for the evening: Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP) and additional innovations to the CEP. 

Five stations were set-up around the dining room, each highlighting a different aspect of the CEP and additional projects. The first station gave background information on Tostan in general whereas the second station gave a more in-depth view on Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP). The third station showcased Tostan’s other innovative projects, including the Prison Project, the Solar Power! Project, and the Mobile Phone for Literacy Project, and the fourth station demonstrated how these projects have made a holistic and sustainable impact in Senegal. Lastly, Tostan’s long-term goals were highlighted at the fifth station. 

Through meal donations, a generous donation from an alumnus, and an art auction that also occurred that evening, the Austin College students raised about $1000 for community-led development in Africa. They have already begun planning next year’s event as the students are excited to share Tostan Founder Molly Melching’s biography, However Long the Night, with their campus and community. 

Story by Angelica Buggie, Tostan; Photographs by Austin College.