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Winrock International

Volunteer Post

Winrock’s 2017 Volunteer Spirit Award

We are proud to announce Monica Norley as the recipient of Winrock’s 2017 Volunteer Spirit Award!

Throughout 2017 and over the course of three separate trips, Monica Norley provided extraordinary assistance to the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program in Senegal. Our F2F staff is continually impressed with her great patience, understanding, and humility.

Monica and the members of COFLEC on her first trip in January 2017

In January 2017, Monica began working with the women of the Coalition of Women Against Illegal Immigration (COFLEC), located in Dakar, Senegal. She provided a training-of-trainers (TOT) on leadership and business management that inspired the formation of sub-group within COFLEC, Diapal Ma Diap, whose goal was to seek out new business opportunities. Though COFLEC was already engaged in making soap, these newly trained women identified the increased income opportunities that were possible from value-added soap production. So, in mid-2017, COFLEC asked for Monica’s help in giving a TOT on processes and techniques to boost the quality of their soap, using locally-sourced agricultural inputs and ingredients. Twenty-four women were trained on the basics of saponification, including composition and contributing qualities of natural plant-based ingredients, quality control, soap making as a viable business, and environmentally-friendly packaging.

F2F Volunteer explains the different agriculture products that can be used in soap making

The participants immediately jumped into action, practicing what Monica was demonstrating, reviewing the importance of the curing process and the use and handling of caustic soda. Monica also worked with the group to outline organizational next steps – including establishing bylaws, rules, regulations, and an internal board, securing a rental agreement for the factory, and maintaining good records, essential for any sustainable business. As an exciting bonus, Monica and F2F staff introduced the group to a businesswoman who could provide the soap makers with essentials oils they could use as a scent in their soap; the woman is also interested in selling the final product in her shop which specializes in natural products.

Participants practice measuring out ingredients for soap production. Safety First!

On her latest trip in late 2017, Monica returned to work with COFLEC, after they had met the goals Monica had established for them on her second trip. This time Monica trained a group of women on the basics of natural soap making, specifically using agricultural products. Monica reviewed the basics of the saponification process with COFLEC and as well as going deeper into the aspects that would move them towards a greater commercial venture, such as unit costs of production, standardization, optimum yields per soap mold and revising formulas. On this same trip, Monica also gave a TOT of basic saponification to another group, Alliance of the Integrated Masses for the Development of Women ‘s Entrepreneurship Network.

Volunteer demonstrates how to uniformly cut soap in order to increase its presentation value

After returning home from her volunteer assignments, Monica continued to demonstrate her commitment by responding to questions, providing ongoing guidance, and shipping essential oils to Senegal in late 2017 to help this organization succeed. Along with her dedication to this single host, Monica continuous to support the F2F program as a whole by reaching out over on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Sylvie Diémé, Leader, COFLEC stated “Before F2F assistance, we thought soap processing is a very complicated activity and during the training, Monica showed us how it is simple and practical to produce soap. This new activity of soap production improved our organizational level, now we organize meetings, keep records of operation, establish workgroups for production, have membership registration fees, rent our own unit of production, and purchase basic necessary equipment. This is an exponential leap in three months.”

Monica with COFLEC’s president (left) and with Diapal Ma Diap’s president

“I have been very lucky to experience Senegal three times this year and now have the chance to also work with this new group of women. Each trip has given me new contacts, increased knowledge of the local culture and language and an extremely personally enriching experience. I feel I have friends in Senegal now and I feel in a good position to be able to disseminate information about the country to anyone I might meet,” Monica notes, “[I] have a very special place in my heart for Senegal…. There has been no other group that I have worked with that has grasped the training as fast and well.”

Winrock’s Volunteer Spirit Award is given to a volunteer who has made a significant difference through volunteering. This is a person who has gone “above and beyond” the minimum requirements of an assignment. He or she is an ambassador of the American people who fosters sustainable relationships and has large impacts on those we serve. Not only does this person exemplify great technical ability or approach, but they also show a charismatic attitude with our hosts, and with staff both in the field and at headquarters. Winrock International is fortunate to receive support from so many caring individuals that exemplify these qualities.

In 2017, Winrock volunteers dedicated more than 26,000 pro-bono hours to helping poor and disadvantaged populations around the world. That is impressive! 141 of these volunteers, who recently earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award. This includes:

• 116 “bronze” award recipients with 100+ service hours
• 21 “silver” award recipients with 250+ service hours
• 4 “gold” award recipients with 500+ service hours

Congratulations to the service award recipients and a heartfelt thank you to ALL of our volunteers. You are each truly inspirational!