Photo Courtesy of American Jewish World Service
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by women to empower women, The Little Market advocates for human rights and raises awareness for social justice issues. We are proud to work with and support fellow nonprofits that share in our cause and recognize that everyone, regardless of background, deserves to be treated equally and with respect. On Cultural Exchange, we love to share the stories behind nonprofits we love. Today, we are discussing the incredible work by Tostan.
Tostan is a 501(c)(3) international nonprofit organization based out of Senegal. Tostan provides essential tools and a human-rights based educational approach to empower rural communities with the resources needed to grow and prosper. Tostan’s model has been put into action in rural communities within Africa for nearly 30 years, and it has benefited millions of individuals.
Through an empowerment program, rural and marginalized communities create a vision for themselves while learning about everything from health to human rights to problem-solving skills. This model has seen success in a variety of areas including environmental sustainability, increased enrollment of girls for a formal education, an improvement in literacy and mathematics skills, better local economic opportunities, and protection of maternal and children’s health and well-being.
In 1974, Tostan’s founder Molly Melching traveled from the United States to Senegal as a graduate student to begin her journey as an exchange student. After graduation, she founded a children’s center in Senegal and traveled to rural villages to increase access to educational materials. Along with a team of cultural specialists, Molly created a Community Empowerment Program. As their endeavors grew, Molly founded Tostan in 1991, and since then, this model has become a leader in positive change for rural communities.
To learn more about Molly’s journey, check out Aimee Molloy’s “However Long the Night,” which Melinda and Bill Gates consider “required reading for anyone who wants to learn about how to make change.”