Creating lasting change in Africa is the only way to sustainably solve the myriad consequences of poverty.
But how? Why hasn’t anything else worked? Billions of dollars in western aid gone down the drain?
At Sawa Sawa, we feel that the key ingredient has been over looked. The catalyst to change in any capacity is WOMEN!
No offense to men and my apologies to any politically correct thinkers. Men in general and especially those in leadership positions are the root cause of most problems facing the continent.
It is NOT their fault and I don’t believe they intentionally induce strife in society BUT the African culture combined with the colonial imprint has created humans that are greedy, corrupt, and wasteful in an environment where being so is cool and trending.
How do we go around creating lasting change with women as our primary ingredient?
The answer is quietly, softly without drawing attention to the shifting dinamics.
Our first step at Sawa Sawa is active, unbiased listening. We create a rapport in a safe space and ask for their wisdom and advice. They know more about their life and their environment than anyone else ever will. They have learnt to survive as second class humans and have some tricks up their sleeve. We have to remember, we are not there to save anyone, we are there to listen and learn.
Every group will have something unique to bring to the table. New ways of handling situations. Our role is to initiate conversation and give them room to identify the problems and come up with solutions. We offer a part of ourselves that will fit into their equation. They own the ideas, they invest their time and thoughts into the solutions. They are more likely to keep the solutions going long after we are gone.
Every village or town has women groups that come together to create fashion, food produce, small businesses etc. commonly known as a merry go round. Tapping into these groups – in our case, creating a market for more woven bags, beaded accessories, among other skills creates micro economies. The women make money that feeds into other local businesses which positively impacts local schools and clinics leading to better education, health, nutrition, and so on.
Western aid, IMF loans and money sent with the best of intentions end up lining the pockets of politicians and leaders most of whom are men. Without any repercussions, not one penny reaches the poor, the sick or the needy.
The answer is opening the forum for the women to identify the problems and provide the solutions.
Simply shut up and listen.