Hero Spotlight: Jenneh Lassayo, a Mentor to Women Farmers

July 20, 2016

Jenneh Lassayo has been a Just Hope friend for several years. As the wife to Joseph Lassayo, one of our long-time and trusted employees in Bauya, Sierra Leone, Jenneh has experienced personally the value of an opportunity to improve one’s own circumstances.

At the conclusion of the pineapple project in Bauya, we were embarking on sustainable conservation agriculture projects in other countries, including Ghana and Togo. We had no doubt that these same methods would be well received in Sierra Leone, so we provided training to Joseph and Sullay, our “boots on the ground” there who have earned the respect of their communities due in part to their work with Just Hope.

An active farmer in her family, Jenneh was highly interested in learning alongside Joseph during the training. After startling success with her own demonstration plot of corn and beans during Sierra Leone’s dry season, Jenneh saw how she might contribute to the growth of her community, especially the women. Smart, capable and driven, Jenneh immediately wanted to share the training with her female relatives and friends.

Since then, Jenneh has trained and empowered dozens of women in her own community and several neighboring communities — women who are experiencing the joy that comes from learning a skill that results in a significant life improvement.

Jenneh describes the work to train her fellow women farmers as hard, because there are many steps involved, and because conservation agriculture doesn’t use common local practices such as burning to clear a field. But when the farmers give it a chance, and they experience success, Jenneh said she feels so proud. “It is only when they understand the process that they want to start doing it themselves,” she said. “When they succeed, I know they finally understand, and that makes me feel good.”

“Being in this leadership role makes me feel great within myself, and within my community,” Jenneh said. “Now everybody in the community wants to acquire this knowledge.”

We are so proud of this Just Hope hero, a remarkable woman who recognized the value of an opportunity not just for herself, but for her community and indeed, her country.

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