In honor of this year’s Blog Action Day topic, the Power of We, I will share a story about a group of farmers in the village of Bani Goungu, a couple of kilometers south of my village, Tonkossare. Back in 2008, Peace Corps Niger’s agricultural and natural resource management volunteers collaborated with the Nigerien government to promote plantations of the Acacia Senegal tree as an income generating activity. Gum Arabic, which is produced by the tree, is a food additive found in many products, and the tree only grows in parts of the Sahel.
One morning I ventured down on foot to the village of Bani Goungu to meet the mayor and a few farmers interested in learning more about opportunities for producing and distributing Gum Arabic. We hopped on a donkey cart, as the plantation sat up in the highlands, not walking distance from the village. Several hours later, after pruning the trees and harvesting the sap, we returned to the village to discuss next steps. It turned out that these farmers produced more Gum Arabic in their own plantation than they could possibly sell in the local market, and what they did sell, went for pennies.
These Bani Goungu farmers needed access to a larger market, and a plan for transporting their product. This is the essence of the Power of We. No individual or community is an island; we all need each other. It is only by leveraging the We that resources can be combined into successes that are larger than the parts.
There is an important greeting in Zarma, the language that I spoke in Niger. “Mate nodin boray?” (pronounced Mah-tay No-din Bor-ay). How are the people over there? The people “over there” and the people “over here” care for one another because they know that each community exists in a web.
Alone, we are a bunch of I’s lacking the resources to accomplish anything. But as we’s…the possibilities are endless.
What is your favorite Power of We story?