As our ferry approached the opposite shore of Senegal’s Soungrougrou River, the air throbbed with rhythmic drumming. Waving arms and brilliant smiles beckoned to us. The stunning village women, dressed in their dazzlingly colorful boubous, ran to us singing and clapping as we disembarked.
With four women accompanying me, I had traveled to Senegal through my company, Women Travel for Peace. Our goal: to fund and help construct a sturdy, concrete well for a women’s farming collective.
Women Travel for Peace community-based tourism brings women from the industrialized world to work side-by-side with women in the developing world to support a community project improving the lives of women and children. Our projects are locally chosen. The women of this small farming collective had met months earlier and decided together that their greatest need was for a well.
Water is a precious commodity in this village, as in most of Africa. But these farming women had only a sprinkling of hand-dug wells, spotty in their performance: they cave in during the rains, becoming unusable for 3-4 months a year. We wanted to provide financing for the new concrete well, as well as some physical labor.
In rural Senegal, the women are the field laborers—and the cooks, wood-carriers, nurturers of children, and housekeepers. They’re up at dawn, off to the fields in early morning after feeding children and husband, cleaning house, and praying; and they return in the evening: 10-12 hours each day, they’re hauling water and doing back-breaking field work.
My purpose in founding Women Travel for Peace was to: 1) create unique travel experiences for women that finance and physically support a project chosen by and directly benefiting local women, and 2) nurture communication among all the women. Our goal is mutual growth: learning and sharing so two disparate worlds may connect for the deep and lasting benefit of all.
There is something magical in the inherent connection among women. We may not speak the same language, but we communicate: we cook and work together, we laugh, and how we dance and sing!
From this resonance come long lasting, measurable improvement in the lives of women and children and life-changing growth for all involved.My Story: Standing Up