This outdoor pottery workshop is the ultimate gathering place for these Senegalese women, where they spend the majority of their days working with their hands.
Pottery is a tradition and an artistic expression in the village of Cassamance in the country’s south.
The experience is passed on over the generations.
Arocky Coly, a 70-year-old lady, is the pottery temple’s guardian.
“I have been here for over 20 years. I started with my elders but they can’t come anymore due to their advanced age, others have even died. But we hardly gain anything in our work,” she said.
“Sometimes we produce a lot of vases that end up breaking. But that does not discourage us. As long as I am still alive, I will continue to support the younger ones.”
Arocky observes the current state of affairs with a feeling of obligation.
These women are also working on fruit manufacturing, soap production, and clay stove production in addition to pottery.
Getting it off the ground
The small company they’ve started, however, is failing to get off the ground due to a lack of funding.
“We are still struggling to find funding. We don’t have any at the moment. Those who trained us did their best. They funded the oven, but that’s it. However, if we had had funding, it would have enabled us to make our work more profitable. That’s all we want,” said Khady Mane, President of the Women’s Association.
Finding a demand is always a challenge, and having the best equipment is still a challenge.
“We don’t have enough materials. When it comes to stoves, for example, there are three essential machines that we still miss,” Mane said.
“If we had had them, they would have helped us a lot because here we use wood a lot, especially for cooking. In addition, I appeal to the inhabitants of the village to join us in order to better develop this business.”
The most important goal for these women is to provide employment.
However, fishing and subsistence farming are the primary sources of income for the natural settlement, which is surrounded by lush beaches and forests.