L'Oganisation des Femmes des Petit -Bourg (OFPB)
Organization of the women of Petit Bourg du Borgne
A little background about women in Tibouk:
Life in Tibouk is difficult by any standard but especially for women. Illiteracy eliminates most from the handful of jobs available outside the home like teaching or nursing. Women are hardworking, modest, religious, and stay close to home. Most are not sexually active until marriage and remain faithful to their husbands. It seems to be taken for granted men will be unfaithful. But with no other opportunities women stay in their marriage and divorce is rare.
Men primarily engage in subsistence farming ( figs, bananas , yams, coffee, cocoa ), and fishing. Everything else is women's work. Childcare, cooking, washing clothes on rocks in the river, carrying water on their heads from the river, sewing, and taking produce to market. With no prenatal care, women give birth on the dirt floor in their hut resulting in a high mortality rate for mother and baby. Children who survive childbirth die at a high rate in infancy from malnutrition, diarrhea or childhood diseases. Babies are often malnourished because their mother's body is so depleted from nursing one child after another.
Life is hard but the women of Tibouk are strong and resilient. To improve their lives they pooled their knowledge, talents and resources and founded an organization to help all women. The OFPB has a membership of over 6,000 spread over 8 geographic sections. Here are some ways this highly organized and motivated group of women support each other.
1. ) Teach sewing skills to young women
2. ) Food co-op
3. ) Literate adults teach illiterate adults to read.
4. ) Help each other with funeral expenses.
5. ) Teach domestic skills like childcare and cooking.
6. ) Teach basic hygiene to prevent disease