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.
Uintah’s Project Report: September 2017
Togo Support continued through a quiet year, successfully completing the two annual projects that have become the backbone of our work. The first of these is regular treatment as needed throughout the year of all the well water in the village of Nanoume, to prevent waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid, which are prevalent in the area. This year for the first time, the villagers offered to increase their contribution to pay for this basic need from 10% to 20% of the cost. The second project is a small scholarship for each of ten middle school students continuing their study beyond the basic primary school level.
Last autumn, I reported to the Meeting a request from the villagers for a pavilion or gazebo (“apatame” in their parlance) in front of the library, for more and cooler study space, and a medium-sized meeting space. Seven Friends made very generous donations, but these funds were insufficient to build the apatame.
Leonard, my partner in Nanoume, and I discussed what to do with the funds. There are always a variety of needs. But as the donors had given in response to a specific request, I decided the funds should be used only for an apatame, or for latrines for library visitors, either of which would fill the function of enhancements for the library. (Currently library patrons – most of whom are students – must either use the latrine of Leonard’s family, or go out into adjoining fields.) Leonard and I decided to save the funds, still hoping for a future apatame or latrine.
Currently there is a political crisis in Togo – now a couple of months old, and growing in tension. Its storyline is a familiar one, of a national leader attempting against much opposition to remain in power without the people’s consent. There is continuing violence perpetrated by the military, internet has been cut off by the government, and public transport throughout the country has been halted. Constantine – Leonard’s oldest daughter, and my daughter-in-law – is involved in the efforts from here in the U.S. to obtain a fair outcome, as is Leonard, himself, in Togo.
Because of these disruptions, I am still unable to obtain copies via internet of Leonard’s receipts for the water purification, well treatment oversight, and the scholarships, all of which occurred in August and September.
Plans for 2018
Moving towards 2018, the goals of Togo Support remain the same. We plan for the provision of clean water, and educational encouragement in the village of Nanoume. We hope for the future construction of an apatame or latrines for the library, if sufficient funds are received. We pray for peace, safety, freedom from fear, and fair governance for the Togolese people.
We are most grateful to Boulder Friends Meeting for allowing Togo Support to continue its efforts as a project under the oversight of the Finance Committee and Business Meeting. I wish to express my sincere appreciation to our generous donors for your willingness to share what you have with those in greater need.
Project Activities: September 2015 – August 2016
Togo Support continued its middle school scholarship program and the well water treatment program, which expanded this year to include all wells in the village of Nanoume. A requested training program for local farmers was held in December. In the summer, the library held weekly literacy-related club activities for children of all ages, referred to as “vacation courses.”
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, or take up weekly residence during the school year in a town. This requirement places an extra burden on families, who not only need to support their child in that transport or residence, 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 educational efforts.
Water-borne diseases including typhoid take a heavy toll on the lives of Nanoume villagers of all ages. Every year Togo Support provides 90% 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 10% of funds needed, which helps everyone to recognize the value of clean, healthy water. This year 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 raise 20% of the funds needed for chlorination next year.
For several years now, the village of Nanoume has requested additional training for farmers, to supplement a training provided long ago by Togo Support. Everyone in Nanoume is a farmer, and many are eager to learn techniques to improve their methods. In December, a 3-day training was held for all those interested, led by regional experts in local farming, with an emphasis on alternatives to reliance on chemical fertilizers, and other sustainable practices.
After the end of the school year in the spring, Thècle, a daughter of our Nanoume partner, Leonard, began organizing the students and children for weekly get-togethers at the Togo Support library. Togo Support provided a variety of reading and art supplies as well as board games for the activities. These events not only encourage literacy, but also help everyone to be familiar with the library, and comfortable in its use. There are materials in French, English and Moba, for academic work in the national curriculum, additional research, pleasure reading, and materials on agriculture for local farmers, who may make use of a reading service if they are illiterate.
From October 2011 through August 2015, 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;
- 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;
- First 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;
- 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;
- Purchase of a set of the books used in the current Togolese curriculum through primary and secondary school for the library, to aid in their regular studies
Uintah and Leonard’s gratis work for Togo Support provides “big bang for your bucks”, as 95% of all funds go directly to project expenses. We never use contributions for fund raising expenses. For more information about Togo Support you may contact Uintah at Nanoume.Togo@gmail.com.
How You Can Assist the Togo Support Project
To donate by mail, send a check to Treasurer, Boulder Friends Meeting, P.O. Box 4363, Boulder, CO 80306. Make the check payable to “Boulder Friends Meeting” and write “Togo Support” in the Memo line.
To make an online donation via PayPal, click “Donate”, then enter “Togo Support” in the Purpose box. (PayPal charges us 2.9 percent plus $0.30 per transaction.) You do not need to join PayPal to use this service, you can choose to use your credit card.
To make an online donation, enter any specific cause you wish to support in the “Purpose” box, then click “Donate”. You may need to enter it twice; the second time the space may look like this: . If you have a specific purpose or cause, please click on the plus sign and enter the information again if you see the plus sign; thank you.