This past week I was able to realize the first of the goals that have brought me here in Mali. I have been aiding women in the creation of a sustainable business making and selling soap. I was able to help Sini Sanuman improve the quality of the soap, so the beneficiaries can promote their soap abroad and earn more money. I was also keen to improve the quality of the soap, which we have done successfully.
When I first arrived at the center where the women make soap, I noticed that they did not have proper equipment. Women were struggling to use the equipment, and some even cut themselves with the rough edges of the molds. I proposed to Siaka (the president of Sini Sanuman) and Sylla (the director of the Sini Sanuman center) that we acquired new and better-designed molds.
Acquiring new molds has been challenging. However, we were lucky when Hank, my American landlord, put us in contact with Idrissa, a talented young Malian, who agreed to make molds for us.
This week, we tested the new mold that Idrissa made for us, and the results were spectacular. The soap came out with a better shape, cleaner and smelling good. But that was not all. The best part was seeing how everyone came together to help improve the quality of the soap.
When I first arrived at the Sini Sanuman center, few people were involved in the soap project. The main participants were Aîssata, the soap maker and instructor, and the beneficiaries. Today, the soap project has extended its boundaries both within the Sini Sanuman organization and in the community in Bamako.
I was so moved this past week: I bargained with Idrissa’s partner, who agreed to charge me less than the first mold. He said he would do it for less as a contribution to the women’s recovery and reintegration into the community.
I could not help but feel joy in my heart; it has now become everyone’s fight to restore peace in Mali by helping heal the most vulnerable members of society. Hank and his interns have also been working on the logo and on the shelves, and they have helped me with some other things in this process. Sometimes, when Hank tells me that this person did this or that, I am surprised to know that I have not even met the person yet. As word about the soap project at Sini Sanuman continues to spread around Bamako, more people of different backgrounds are coming forward and offering to help.
After our success with the new mold, I ordered four more to be made, two for large bars of soap and two for small bars of soap that will be sold at local hotels in Bamako. Sometimes it feels like I am not doing much, as I expressed in my last blog. But for the past week with the improvements I helped Sini Sanuman achieve, and by bringing the community together, I have been made to understand that small changes can make a big difference.
With these changes, I hope that the new group of women who we just received at the Bamako center will sell more soap, and earn more money. This would allow them to have some savings to start their own business when their six months at the center come to an end.
Posted By Rose Twagirumukiza
Posted Jul 18th, 2016