The twinning relationship between the women of Mali, West Africa and the women of Agassiz/Harrison Hot Springs has deepened, as funds for a second grinder for use in their shea butter work were recently sent to Bamako, Mali.
Though the last few months have found the people of Mali experiencing a coup and an eventual takeover of the northern tip of the country by rebel groups, these actions have not directly affected twinning partners in southern Mali. There is a feeling of uncertainty at present throughout the country but for the residents of Sanankoro Djitoumou in southern Mali where Teryia’s partners live, life as usual goes on.
The region, or as called in Mali the commune, is comprised of 27 villages, an area that is equal to the size of the District of Kent and the Village of Harrison Hot Springs.
The first grinder is situated in the main village in the commune, and women from neighbouring villages walk here daily with their baskets of nuts to use it. The grinder is in use constantly, and there are lineups all day long.
The women in the villages farthest away are unable to make the journey to the main village, so the commune’s women associations have now raised money on their own to contribute towards the cost of two more grinders. These will be placed in areas that make it easier for all women to have the use of a grinder.
Since September 2011 when the first grinder was purchased, local residents in Agassiz/Harrison again raised enough money to aid in the purchase of this second grinder for the women to use in their shea butter work. Grassroots fundraisers such as hosted dinners and proceeds from a local painting workshop were used to both awareness raise and fundraise. Also, many individual donations were made in lieu of gifts to a friend or family member.
We give our thanks to the many people who have been generous over the past year in their contributions towards the purchase of these grinders!
We also give our thanks to Sekou Samake, originally from the commune and who now lives and works in the city of Bamako. He oversees the grinder purchase with the Teryia twinning association along with the women’s association and takes great care that the process is effective. Sekou, along with the help of Kariba Samake, chairman of Teryia twinning group in Sanakoro Djotoumou, oversees the set-up of the grinder in the commune.
We received word just last week that the two cameras and various school supplies a Teryia member sent have been received. This is a gift to the women, so that they will be able to document their shea butter work to share with all of us.
Malian women express their gratitude for help in obtaining these grinders as they save a great amount of time in the processing and help create a better end product that they can sell for more money. The women in the commune have said that above all else, producing a high quality shea butter is what can help them the most in obtaining a degree of autonomy, as well as helping their communities through the sale of the butter to markets. Making shea butter is an important part of the culture and being able to make the best shea butter they can is their goal. Owning their own grinders is an impossible purchase on their own and working with Canadian partners to this end, is good for all of us. There is a saying in Malian culture that has been shared with us:
“The flight of several birds in unison makes noise.”
In future the local Teryia group hopes to share photos and communications with Observer readers.
– submitted by Teryia Members in Agassiz/Harrison