Teryia, the partnership between women in Agassiz/Harrison and Mali, West Africa, recently received photos and an update from Mali, regarding the purchase of a third grinder.
Sekou Samake, our connector to people in the villages has informed us that this grinder is now assembled and functioning well in the Village of Massala. The money for this was raised through fundraising here in Agassiz-Harrison and by contributions from the women in Mali. Here at home, we raised the money through holding a Mali Film night, selling crafts at the Agassiz Christmas Craft market, a raffle, and individual donations. In Mali, the women sold produce from their gardens and crafts at local markets, and contributed this money toward the cost of the grinder.
The whole process of purchasing and getting the grinder to the commune takes time. Since the unrest in Mali last year, the cost of grinders has increased and the waiting period, once an order has been placed, can take much longer. Sekou, originally from one of the villages within the commune, now lives in the city of Bamako where he runs an Agricultural and Midwife School, and we are fortunate that he also takes on the task of arranging for the purchase of the grinder. With other members from the commune, he places the order, and once it reaches Bamako, it is then transported to the commune. This takes a day’s travel over dirt road (or longer, depending on the weather). It is then assembled by people in the villages and when this is done it is taken to where it will be used.
Each woman pays a little something to use a grinder, and this money is put toward buying another. We have been told that it is operated by a man from the community (who would also be responsible for its maintenance) but the women manage the machines, the shea butter production, and finances. Some funds go to cover the cost of maintenance and to pay the operator.
We are working together to purchase a fourth grinder, as there are many villages within the commune and the goal is to make it possible for each woman to have access to a machine without having to walk long distances.
This summer, we received a package sent to us from Mali. Sekou had collected a sample of the raw shea butter that was produced after using one of the grinders. It took a couple of months and a few challenges at customs to receive it, but it did successfully arrive!
Some of the members of Teryia here in Agassiz/Harrison, got together to make some homemade soap with some of the shea butter added. We hope to sell these, with all funds going into the purchase of another grinder.
Our thanks go out again to all who have donated to this project. We shall keep you updated.
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Contributed by the Teryia group