You are the leader of a women's group. What are the activities of this group?
Cécile: We make attiéké, gari, placali (note: typical food of the country made from cassava).
With the machine that PRO-PLANTEURS has made possible for us, our cassava is much easier to process. I was trained as a nutrition and diversification advisor in 2016 as part of the project. I supervise thirteen women's groups from seven villages.
What is your task as Animatrice Rurale?
C: I go to the villages to set up women's groups there. It's mainly about working with women who are themselves producers or wives of farmers. I explain to them the importance of hygiene and cleanliness and how they should feed themselves and their children. I also identify children who are suffering from malnutrition. I also encourage these women to diversify, that is, to grow not only cocoa but also other crops such as vegetables. This way they can support their husbands.
How many women do you work with?
C: I take care of 90 women in each village. They are divided into two groups: one group of Agni women and one group of Malinké women, both with 45 women each. I take care of 13 women's groups in total, coming from seven villages. I work twice a week: on Fridays with the groups of Malinké women and on Sundays with those of Agni women.
So many women? Congratulations on this great work!
What is particularly important to you in your work with women?
C: The most important thing is to help the women. Great emphasis is placed on healthy nutrition. There are children in the villages who are malnourished. Many of them are already suffering from anemia (anemia). We teach the women how to take care of their sick children, how to breastfeed their babies and at what age the children should be weaned.
A second issue is diversification. People don't know how to eat well. We encourage them to grow vegetables and eat fruits and vegetables and explain how to eat them. It is worth noting that many in our villages do not like to eat fruits and vegetables. They prefer to eat cassava and plantains - that is, they prefer a power food. However, they also need foods that promote their growth and nutrients that protect them.
The main goal is to improve the living conditions of women producers. In doing so, we also want to empower them to take care of the family when the husband is not there (anymore).
What specifically do you do when you identify malnourished children?
C: We report this to the responsible persons in the PRO-PLANTEURS project, or we take these children to the hospital. On the spot, I explain to the doctor my work and the reason for my presence.
How do women find your care?
C: The women are very satisfied with being advised and cared for. That really makes me very happy. As an animatrice, I am even overjoyed when I see that our work is well received and helps. Of course, this depends on my behavior towards them and the content of the training offered.
Are you also facing difficulties?
C: The difficulty in my work is transportation. The roads are not in good condition, it is better to go with a motorcycle. Unfortunately, I don't have one. Besides that, communication is a difficult point. Sometimes women in the church are informed that I am coming by, or the person responsible for information within the cooperative lets them know. It is also problematic that the women are not punctual. They decide the day and time for our meetings themselves, and yet many do not come on time. So we often start late.
Are you yourself also a cocoa producer besides your work as Animatrice Rurale?
C: Yes, if I were not a producer, I would not be a member of the cooperative. I have a cacao field that I inherited from my mother. I also grow vegetables and cassava. This is mainly for my own food. If there is an overproduction, I can sell some at the market.
How do you process your manioc?
C: We have a machine with which we crush the manioc. PRO-PLANTEURS has made this possible for us. This has made the processing very easy.
Do you have your baby with you at work?
C: Yes, that makes care easier. It also allows me to give practical examples, such as how to feed a child or breastfeed him. So mine is well fed. When we cook at the trainings, mine eats first. That encourages the other kids to eat too.
Congratulations on your great work and we encourage you to keep it up! Thank you so much for letting us do this interview with you, and keep up the good work!