Molly Melching and the Skoll Foundation
This is my site Written by Alex on July 6, 2011 – 10:08 am   

It’s not often enough we can share good news about people making a difference to make the world a better place. But such is the case of Molly Melching. Melching, who I recently learned about, is a true inspiration of how one person can improve the lives of others. Melching has been working in Senegal for more than 30 years,. She arrived as a 24-year-old college student after missing the telegram saying the program she was going to enroll in was, in fact, cancelled. She didn’t go home., Instead, she looked around and dedicated herself and her life to improving the country and the lives of women in the country.

Along the way she started a community-based development model and program in Senegal called Tostan. “Tostan means ‘breakthrough’ in the West African language of Wolof,” according to the Tostan website. “Since 1991, Tostan has brought its holistic 30-month education program to thousands of communities in ten African countries: Burkina Faso, Djibouti, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Somalia, and Sudan. and Western Africa.”

According to the Skoll Foundation which honored Melching and is founded by Jeff Skoll, the first president of eBay and the creator of Participant Media, “Abandonment of female genital cutting has been a cornerstone of the [Tostan] program and a symbol of its success. Over 4,500 communities, comprising more than 3 million people, have publicly declared abandonment of female genital cutting in Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso, The Gambia and Somalia. Over 4,000 communities have abandoned child marriages.”

As a journalist and writer who has worked in Africa, Melchng’s work—and the Skoll Foundation‘s recognition of it—is particularly moving. I know the difficulties one can encounter in Africa. But I also know how rewarding it is to form a bond and a kinship with people who are so deserving of assistance so they can take charge of their own lives. The way Tostan is empowering others is the real beauty and inspiration, for me, of Melching’s work and is a reason to have hope for a better world — for people living in Africa, and for all of us.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.