Diaries | Food


From woodcutter to president of a fruitful group of women horticulturists: 'Mani Tese is the "school" I couldn't attend'.


Cathérine is a woman in her 50s, living in Tampègré with her 6 children and husband. Cathérine got to know Mani Tese in 2014 through a training on structuring and organising transformation groups. After the training, she set up a group with 25 other women called “Tétooma” and became its president.

Thanks to Mani Tese projects, the group was trained in cassava processing and the marketing of the products. In addition, the women received processing equipment from Mani Tese, including a motorised grater and a press. Finally, in order to ensure the group’s economic independence, Mani Tese put the women in touch with a microfinance facility, which provided them with loans to increase their processing and production capacity.

Today, Cathérine’s group has a collective cassava field, does horticulture and produces vegetables such as tomatoes, green beans and ochre.

Today, thanks to a new project by Mani Tese, ‘Improvment of food safety and hygiene conditions in the Atacora communities’ co-financed thanks to 8 per 1000 IRPEF funds directly managed by the state, women are trained in the agricultural production techniques of yellow maize, yam, sesame and sweet potato, which had disappeared from eating habits. The return of these crops proved beneficial to families because it increased the availability of food and their incomes.

In addition, Cathérine and her group participated in some training sessions on the importance of school, after which she was often called to meetings of parents’ associations to make them aware of the risks of dropping out of school and, with her group, formed a team to make girls aware of the importance of not dropping out of school.

Cathérine wonders if she had not done the training, but had remained in the fields, who would have spoken on behalf of the women in the village. She says she is grateful to have been able to participate in the Mani Tese “school”, which has taught her many things and allowed her to change her life, without having to spend all her time chopping wood and turning it into charcoal as many women in her village still do.

Today, Cathérine is able to contribute to the household expenses thanks to the profits she makes from the marketing of gari, the processed cassava, and when her children are sick and her husband is away, she manages to take care of them. She also manages to buy something for herself.

Her three older children unfortunately no longer go to school, but the three younger ones do, one is already in secondary school.

Understanding the importance of school for their children was crucial and they thank Mani Tese and all the staff for this.

She considers herself a happy woman because she has acquired a new value even within the family and considers Mani Tese as the ‘school’ she did not have the chance to attend.

A photo of Cathérine in front of her house
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