Diara Mané lives in Samick, in a household of eleven people, four of them children (two attending school). She helped build the Camaracounda-Laty road, participating in both brush clearing and drainage digging. She was born in Samick, but she and her family fled when the separatist rebel group Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de la Casamance, or MFDC, killed some family members. They returned several years ago, and Diara says things have improved considerably. “Things are much safer now. And cars used to only go up to Camaracounda, never into our village because the road was so bad. Now, there’s lots of traffic through Sameck.” She earns money through her vegetable garden and by selling fruit she picks.
Diara says the biggest impact the road has had in her life is that now her village is not so isolated. “Before the road was built, no one stayed out in the evening. No one traveled on the old road, and before this one was built I didn’t know anyone in other villages. Now, we have links with everyone in the other villages.” She says that being connected to people outside of her own village widens her social circle but also that it gives her new financial security. “There are more opportunities to sell my produce, and I can get better prices.”
The money she earned from working on the road went towards paying for food for her family, school fees for her children’s education, and she invested some of it in improving her garden.
Reflecting on her experience working on the road, Diara says, “I was happy meeting new people from new areas. When you meet new people, you have to get to know them. People learned tolerance and acceptance in the group.”