THE MAKING OF BENKADI GARDEN
The story of Benkadi Garden has become central to our identity at The Wash Project. What started with a group of 50 women who worked during the rainy season (4 months each year), has become a year-round source of healthy food and reliable income for over 300 women. This is the beginning of their transformation.
In this part of the world, women carry the burden of maintaining the home and family. As a means of feeding their families and earning money for basic living expenses, some women who have access to land tend small gardens near their homes. But the obstacles to their success can be staggering.
We've begun an initiative to help support the basic necessities of local gardens which can save countless hours of time and precious energy. The goal is that these women will have space in their lives to plan for the future of their family, instead of their daily battle for survival.
Our typical process looks like this:
Fencing - countless women have shared that they spend long nights sleeping on the grounds of the garden to keep animals from coming in to eat their crops. We install fencing so they can finally rest with their families at the end of the day.
Shelter - we construct a shelter that can offer them shade in the extreme heat of Malian summers, and protection from the rain. This prevents them from having to stop their work due to the weather.
Toilet - many women have shared with us that they often have to cut their work day short if they need to use the toilet. There has never been one on the grounds of most of these local gardens.
Fertilizer, Seeds, Tools and Training - to give them the best chance at a better harvest, we provide them with quality materials based on what they wish to grow, and engage local experts to train them.
Financial Literacy - nearly all of the women in these gardens experience an increase in income as a result of our program. To help them reach their goals for themselves and their family, we also offer some basic financial training.
Water Projects - Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa, so groundwater access is critically important to survival. We work with the community to provide the best possible solutions while striving for the highest standards of groundwater management.
"I have been working in this garden for 24 years. I get some money form gardening to support my own needs and the needs of my children. I grow sweet potatoes, celery and okra and some other things. We had a problem to reach the garden but this new bridge [that The Wash Project helped build so that ladies could safely reach their garden during the rainy season] is very helpful. We can not express our happiness about the installation of this bridge." ~Sata
"The improvements were extremely helpful for the continuity of our work in the garden. Every one is free to go and do something else after the work at the garden because the new gate and fencing are protecting our crops. We are so grateful for your support." ~Minata (leader of the Faso Dambe garden)
"I have been making soap for The Wash Project for 8 years. The soap-making is helping me to support my children. I can send my children to school and buy clothing and shoes for them. I can also buy the clothes that I like for my own use. I want to continue working for The Wash Project for years." ~ Fatoumata