This is it. My final project of my Peace Corps service. Every year a regional shea butter training is held in a volunteers village. This was the first year it was held in Kamona. Peace Corps likes to hold these trainings to help the women of Mali produce higher quality shea butter that is then used for home use, but also to sell to exporters.
The shea tree is found from Senegal all the way to the eastern Africa, below the Sahlian belt. Mali has the highest quality nuts, yet their production is the lowest quality compared to the other countries that export, like Ghana or Burkina Faso. Companies such as The Body Shop purchase the shea butter for their products that women love to use!
Anyway, for my training, we invited women from 9 other villages, 2 women per village. Total, there should have been about 100 participants. The purpose of this training is to show, first through pictures, then by actually producing the good butter/oil. Why pictures? Why show through example? Well, I'd say 95% of the women that attend these trainings are illiterate. Giving the women a hands on training really gets the idea through to them.
Why train women who have been doing this process for generations? Because their methods include: not washing hands before handling the nuts; using germinated, spoiled or rotten nuts along with the unripe nuts and good nuts all in one. We teach them how important it is to wash your hands with soap before manually whipping the oil, we teach them to not smoke the nuts- (when the nuts are smoked, carcinogens are released).
Overall, the women that I work with said they really enjoyed having the training in our village and they are already making improvement suggestions for next years formation! It's great to see people motivated from a training that I do.