Celebrating Marie Roberte Laurent: Empowering Women Through Soap Making
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we shine a light on the relentless commitment and passion of Marie Roberte Laurent. As part of Winrock International’s Farmer-to-Farmer program, Marie embarked on an inspiring journey to Senegal, leveraging her extensive expertise in soap-making to train and empower women.
Eric M. Washington
Marie’s assignment, our 247th in Senegal, occurred from July 2, 2019 to July 19, 2019. Partnered with the National Agency Of The House Of Tools (ANAMO) and the Tools House Of Mekhe, the primary objective was to train women from various villages on soap-making using agricultural products. The initiative was about crafting soap and instilling confidence, entrepreneurship, and self-sustainability among the participants.
Soap Making in Action
The journey began with meetings and assessments to ensure the right tools and raw materials were available for training. Marie met with stakeholders, understanding their needs and aligning her teaching methods accordingly.
The heart of the assignment was a six-day intensive training program where Marie shared her experiences, technical knowledge, and soap-making secrets with 32 eager women. Participants learned to make various types of soap, including Neem, Moringa, Charcoal, Turmeric, and hotel soap. By the end, each group managed to create their unique soap, a testament to the success of the training.
Nevertheless, Marie’s commitment did not end there. She recognized the lack of access to coconut oil, a crucial ingredient for soap-making, and demonstrated how to produce it. She even tapped into the local environment, showcasing how to craft mosquito repellents from available Neem trees.
Feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive. Mr. Cheikh SY, Coordinator of House of Tools Mekhé, shared: “We had the honor of participating in your soap training held in the Mekhé house of tools… This experience was very enriching and will necessarily help the participants to excel in the soap factory.”
Similarly, Mr. Cisse, Director of Operation ANAMO, remarked on the success, emphasizing that the training exceeded their expectations and reinforced the agency’s commitment to support women groups in their soap-making endeavors.
As we celebrate the diverse tapestry of cultures and contributions this Hispanic Heritage Month, Marie Roberte Laurent stands as a beacon of what one person’s passion and knowledge can achieve. Her initiative in Senegal has imparted skills and sown seeds of self-reliance and empowerment. We salute Marie for her outstanding contribution and for epitomizing the spirit of giving and sharing.