I met her in 2005. She was a primary school teacher and the only woman in the village that spoke French. Her daughter lived in Nzérékoré (Guinea’s rain forest region) and ran her own textiles shop. One son worked in the gold mines of Siguiri and her younger son had studied business and worked in Conakry.
Then, at 7:45, she would go to school and raise the Guinean flag. Then classes would begin.
During the break at 10:00, she would return home to check on her mother. In the lunch break (12:00-15:00) she would prepare food for herself, her adopted son, and her mother. At 15:00, she would return to school and taught until 17:00. In the dry season, she would then return to her garden to water the vegetables. Then she would cook dinner and feed her mother and her children. Finally, she would help her son Ibrahim with his homework and prepare her lessons for the next day in school. She would go to bed at 22:00.
Subsequently, she founded a women’s co-operative for agriculture with 64 female members. Together, they grow vegetables on 1500 square metres. By selling vegetables at the Saturday market, the women can better provide for themselves.
In addition to growing vegetables, the women also attend to the maintenance and repair of the fences – otherwise the harvest would be destroyed by free-roaming animals (cattle, goats, and sheep).
Ms Doumbouya is a member of the co-operative and has an allotment that she uses to supplement her income.
In 2010, the government instigated an awareness raising campaign that was to combat female genital mutilation (FGM). Since then, Ms. Doumbouya has been active in educating the village population about the dangers of FGM. When we initiated our second women’s co-operative in 2014, she recruited the three women who carried out the circumcisions so that they were no longer reliant on this as a source of income.
Driven by poverty, thieves sometimes venture onto the vegetable fields in the night. The women have developed a few tricks to deter them. For example, they place empty medicine bottles in the fields, which lets the thief think that he will become the object of an evil spell.
Ms. Doumbouya also looks after her niece, an 18-year-old single mother, and her daughter in order that her niece can catch up with her school exams in Kankan
With the support of her 4 children, she was able to build a new house. It stands between the vegetable field and our secondary school where she volunteers as the school librarian. The house is her pride and joy, and a manifestation of the support she receives from her children.
During the delegation of 2014, she immediately set up an appointment for us with the newly founded women’s co-operative. She explained to us all the teething troubles that the co-operative was experiencing, and that it didn’t make sense to have an electric mill without a protective mill-house. In 2017, she once again acted as an interpreter and described the successful two years of the mill co-operative.