By Molly Rooney
Molly is an Agriculture Volunteer through the U.S. Peace Corps (2012-2014) working in Bugubelle, Ghana.
As a Peace Corps volunteer in the community of Bugubelle in the Sissala East District of the Upper West Region of Ghana, I have the opportunity to work closely with a wonderful women’s soap-making group. The group works together to make a wide variety of soaps that they sell in the local market. To increase their capabilities, some of the women have been looking for a way to start training other women’s groups in soap-making. Recently, we were delighted to receive an invitation from Vibrant Village Foundation for two of the women from Bugubelle to lead a three-day soap-making class for 20 women in Fielmuo. None of us had traveled to Fielmuo before and, although we were nervous to begin the training, we were welcomed warmly by the community. The Fielmuo women were enthusiastic to learn the fundamentals of soap-making and its application as a business in their community.
The training started as soon as we arrived in Fielmuo. The first two days were spent carefully going over the recipes and methods of preparing each kind of soap. The women then mixed the oils and lye. Once soaps hardened, the women got busy stamping and cutting the soaps to create the beautiful final products. The last day was devoted to the Fielmuo trainees showing off their new knowledge by preparing new batches of the soaps they had learned in the training.
Besides the amount of soap produced, what amazed me the most was how enthusiastic all of the women were to get started with work, to help each other, and to stay as late as needed to clean up after the day’s activities. It’s never an inactive period for any of these village women – but they put aside their household activities to do something to better themselves. The support and enthusiasm with which the women received us in Fielmuo made a lasting impression on us. I cannot wait to see the Fielmuo women build upon their training and start making some fabulous soap for sale in their own markets!