Meet Mado. This woman has been working with me over the past few weeks making all-natural mosquito repellant cream and reaping the full benefits. It is the first time in her life that she has ever had an income. She makes me keep the money in a little jar in my house; she says she is saving it for the next time someone in the family falls sick to pay for the consultation and medicines.
With 5 kids and a cigarette-addicted husband (which is highly problematic here due to the high percentage of funds his habit evaporates), Mado can’t be older that 35. She and I have been meaning to get this project started for months; however, during that time she has fallen sick with malaria twice and twice her baby girl, Bertine, has too.
This Peace Corps taught remedy is something that I have worked to teach women’s groups and individuals for more than a year. I have probably taught in nearly 20 times during my service seeing few results or replication. I will never know why but this time around it has really caught on. If Peace Corps has done anything for me its increased my patience immeasurably; “try, try again” is so necessary here. In the past few weeks, we have made 5 batches of the cream and sold out while the stuff is still hot, sometimes before we can even get it in the jars. While selling, she counsels her customers to apply the cream every night after showering (read: bucket bathing) to prevent mosquito bites and ultimately malaria but to still always sleep under a mosquito net.
The financial returns are undeniably good. The recipe calls for 3 liters of water (free), 2 square of soap (350 cfa/65 cents each), 8 balls of shea butter (25 cfa/4 cents each), neem tree leaves (free), and lemon tree leaves. Each batch yields about 8 jars (recycled medicine bottles free from the CSPS) that we can sell for 150 cfa each + a 50 cfa deposit recuperated upon returning the bottle. Total cost of production= 550 cfa ($1.10); total won from sales= 1,200 cfa ($2.40); total in Mado’s pocket each time= 650 cfa ($1.30); seeing the smile on Mado’s face after the first successful round of sales= priceless.