Village Elders

“It is said, in your country, a real problem is obesity. In our country, a real problem is starvation. Maybe we can work together to solve each other’s problems.”

These were the first words spoken by a village elder during my visit to Guidan Roumji in 2007. A group of approximately thirty village elders met with me and the Village Chief—El Hadji Sabiou Kasso—to discuss areas of concern in the village and ways in which we could cooperate. El Hadji’s father was the Village Chief when I was a teacher in G.R. 25 years earlier. El Hadji is an honest, intelligent, well-respected religious man who is looking out for the welfare of his town. The elders identified several areas of concern. There was a lack of access to medicine for their children. There were water shortages and wells in need of repair and new ones to be built. Irrigation pumps were needed to facilitate watering crops. There was a food shortage in the months preceding the rainy season. There was a lack of basic educational materials for their children in the schools. Also, microloans were requested for merchants looking to establish or grow existing businesses.

In the past five years, through Bokai Inc., we have been able to provide funds for the purchase of medicine. Wells have been repaired and new ones built. Grain was purchased and is being stored to sell at reduced rates and feed the village before the rainy season. Materials have been donated to the schools.

Ongoing projects include raising funds to purchase irrigation pumps, creating and implementing microloans for the village merchants and introducing existing organizations, such as Heifer, to the Village Elder community to improve the lives of the villagers.