The Diabel Garden in 2022
All of us at CREATE! would like to thank you for your generosity that has helped us continue partnering with rural communities in Senegal, helping them sustain and improve their lives and livelihoods. As CREATE!’s Development Associate, I recently got the chance to visit these communities and would like to share with you the story of our partner community of Diabel; a story about growth and change and resilience, but above everything, a story of hope.
Situated in the Fatick region of Senegal, Diabel is a community that has a desert like climate common to most regions of Senegal. My first visit to Diabel had been in February 2020, right before the pandemic started. From the minute I set foot in their community garden, I was overwhelmed with the passion and the joy I saw in the women there, working tirelessly in above 100F temperatures to grow vegetables in the sand. Diabel had just started their second year of project activities back in February 2020. The enthusiasm of the women as they worked towards a sustainable food secure future for themselves was palpable. They showed me around proudly, the vegetables they were growing and harvesting, the papaya trees they had just planted, the Acacia Olos they hoped would one day provide them protection from the harsh harmattan winds. As I took pictures of everything around me, I believed in their enthusiasm and hoped that their community garden would flourish under these harsh climatic conditions of rural Senegal.
Two years down the road, I got the opportunity to revisit Diabel this June and witness the change in a pandemic ridden world. The familiar faces I saw seemed a little tired, even maybe more drawn than before, but the enthusiasm was intact. COVID has affected Senegal adversely, with life becoming more expensive and unpredictable. Diabel has gone through the pandemic in the same way as any other rural community, changing the way they worked to accommodate the safety regulations. But the pandemic was not the only problem that Diabel encountered. The community has also faced terrible locust attacks in recent months that has decimated a huge part of their crops. It is very demoralizing to see your hard work destroyed overnight, but with the help of the CREATE! technicians, the community persevered. Even though the vegetable plots were rendered empty by the locusts, the nurseries established to replenish those crops were thriving.
Apart from the nutritious vegetables, Diabel has also been planting trees. Reforestation is a very important element of CREATE!’s program in rural Senegal, an attempt to reduce desertification. The positive effects of having trees in the community garden can be seen easily in Diabel. Not only does the garden look beautiful and green, it also has shade that makes it easier for the women to keep working in the summer afternoons. Over the last 2 years, the women of Diabel have not only planted more trees, but have taken good care of them. The papaya trees which were new in 2020 were now twice my size, the Acacia Olos, which were mere saplings are now more than 8 feet tall, forming live protective barriers for the garden.
The women of Diabel have learned to cope with adversities like a pandemic and attacks of pests like locusts that have destroyed their hard work. During my recent visit, what I saw in the faces of the women who were working continuously to turn their sandy garden green was determination and hope. This hope has allowed them to endure and overcome all adversities. As the women told me themselves, they will continue their projects even after they graduate from CREATE!’s programs because they believe in the work, they believe in their ability to improve their own lives.
Support from donors like you has made it possible for the women to keep hoping for a better future. The women of Diabel and all of us at CREATE! are grateful for this support.
The garden back in 2020
The bare fences in 2020 with the Acacia saplings
The live fences with 8 feet tall Acacia Olos now
Growing eggplants after locust attacks
Showing her harvest