Togo Support, a project conceived and created in 2003 by Uintah Shabazz with her Togolese partners, Leonard Mingoube and the late Gerson Hadzi, is committed to improving opportunities for good health, education, women’s empowerment, and environmental protection for villagers in the West African country of Togo. Most projects are carried out in the rural village of Nanoume, in the savanna district. In August 2011, this project was taken under the care of the Boulder Friends Meeting.
Togo Support Mission Statement
We facilitate the right sharing of resources via the transfer of wealth from those who acknowledge having more than they need and are eager to share, to Togolese people in need.
We use this wealth to provide access to basic quality-of-life necessities via education, economic opportunity, human health, and health of the natural environment.
Priority is granted to those Togolese people who demonstrate the motivation and capacity to improve the quality of life within their communities, with emphasis on women and children, and on those living in the village of Nanoume.
Current Project Activities
Togo Support continues its annual middle school scholarship program, and the well water treatment program which expanded in 2016 to include all wells in the village of Nanoume.
Every year Togo Support sponsors ten middle school students from Nanoume, which has no school beyond the primary level. In order for students to continue their education, they must travel to one of three nearby towns daily. This requirement places an extra burden on families, who not only need to support their child in that transport, but also lose much of the household labor which that child could provide if they were not continuing their studies. In Togo, a primary school certificate is socially a fair equivalent of a high school diploma in the U.S. For a farming village family to agree to and support a child’s continued education requires commitment. Togo Support enables that commitment – especially for orphans and for girls, for whom education seems especially unimportant to many Togolese farmers – through “scholarships” granted to motivated students recommended by their teachers. They receive 12,000 cfa (~$21) in a village ceremony that acknowledges the students and their families for their efforts.
Water-borne diseases including typhoid take a heavy toll on the lives of Nanoume villagers of all ages. Every year Togo Support provides a gradually decreasing portion (currently 80%) of the funds needed to purchase chlorine to treat the village wells throughout the year. The treatment is carried out by trained village volunteers using Togo Support purchased materials, and supervised by regional technicians. Villagers who use the wells are required to contribute towards the remaining cost of the chlorine, which helps everyone to recognize the value of clean water. Since 2016, all of the wells used by the Fulani villagers were included, in addition to the wells in the Moba areas of the village. Villagers have agreed to continue increasing their contribution to this cost.
From October 2011 through August 2017, these projects were completed:
- The creation, training, and equipping of two teams (one from each ethnic group in Nanoume) to keep all village wells treated for typhoid and other water-borne diseases;
- Training sessions for all the villagers in household hygiene to help prevent disease transmission;
- Summer activities for youth referred to as “vacation courses” to encourage use of the library;
- Agricultural training programs for farmers in sustainable practices;
- Required uniforms for 50 needy primary school students;
- Classroom supplies such as colored chalk and poster boards provided to all primary teachers;
- Scholarships annually for 10 to 20 middle school students, who must travel to other villages for education;
- High school graduation by two students who have been supported throughout their secondary education;
- A 3-day training session for the women in the poultry-raising micro-enterprise co-op;
- Six more women added to their group, equipped to begin their own home businesses;
- A visit by a small business Peace Corps Volunteer to the treasurer of the women’s co-op;
- Construction of a new, larger and more secure library to replace the old structure;
- Many new books added to the village library, including texts corresponding to the national curriculum;
- Protective coating to the paperback collection in the library;
- Replacement of shelves in the new library, and screening against bats and other intruders;
- Annual supply of chlorine for regular water treatment in all Nanoume wells;
- Purchase of a digital camera and training for a high school student, to provide documentation of Togo Support projects for U.S. donors;
Uintah and Leonard provide all their labor as well as some minor expenses for Togo Support without reimbursement. As a result, 95% of all funds go directly to essential project expenses. We have never used contributions for fund raising. Contributions are no longer being accepted, as the project is anticipated to close by the end of 2021. Nanoume villagers were made aware of this plan in 2018, and are seeking alternatives for meeting the expenses of well water treatment. Sponsorship of this project by the Boulder Friends Meeting is coordinated by an Oversight Committee, currently consisting of Mary Downton, Judy Huston and Maria Krenz. For more information about Togo Support you may contact Uintah at Nanoume.Togo@gmail.com.