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One Woman Can Make a Difference

AFASA includes women's development in health, literacy and sustainable income generation.

A young woman from northern Togo, Mrs. Essi Atamon, joined the Kabiye Women's Project (AFASA) in 1995, determined to make a difference in the lives of women in her community. She has attended AFASA training sessions which have enabled her to improve life in her own village as well as neighboring villages.

When she travels to nearby villages, she studies and analyzes their unique social structure by meeting with the people. She helps them identify their needs and works with them to organize community groups to meet those needs.

AFASA includes women's development in health, literacy and sustainable income generation. Through various programs and workshops, from chicken raising and malaria prevention, to marketing and leadership seminars, AFASA encourages women to build on new ideas and skills. Learning from failure and success is an important part of the instruction.

Mrs. Atamon focuses on helping village women discover possibilities for increasing their families' incomes. First, they analyze how they generate income and then they are challenged to think about how they can build on that foundation to get maximum benefit.

For example, in the Kassi Village in northern Togo a group of women extract and sell oil from the inner nut of the red palm. The oil is used for cooking and making traditional soap. The manual process of opening the inner nut and separating the shells is tedious. Mrs. Atamon is working with the women's group to find a machine that will do this for them. This machine would be made available to the whole village, saving much time and effort, and open opportunities for increased production. It will also allow women time to attend literacy classes, seminars on health issues or budgeting classes.

AFASA was founded through a partnership between the Kabiye community and SIL International. Its primary goal was to train local people to be effective project leaders, managing operations and funding. Five Kabiye women and one man are on the administration team, along with Mrs. Esther Marmor, an SIL consultant. This team, in conjunction with representatives from all 25 village communities, shapes the direction for AFASA program objectives and strategies.