Tostan is a US 501(c)(3) non-governmental organization headquartered in Senegal, West Africa, whose mission is to empower African communities to bring about positive sustainable development through a human-rights based non-formal education in local languages. Tostan’s programs are run by local people, and are mainly funded by UNICEF, the American Jewish World Service, Wallace Research Fund, Banyan Tree, the Blaustein Foundation, The Swedish Agency for International Development and many committed individuals who send donations of $5 to $35,000.
Tostan (Wolof translation: breakthrough) uses familiar means of communication such as discussion, dialogue, song, dance, theater, and poetry in order to empower participants with knowledge and skills in many areas including democracy, human rights, problem solving, health, hygiene, literacy and numeracy, micro-credit and management skills.
Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program has been critical to dramatic and unprecedented decisions by more than 1,900 communities in Senegal to declare publicly that they are abandoning female genital cutting and child/forced marriage, practices tightly woven into the fabric of their culture many generations ago. The women and men who have pledged not to have their daughters and granddaughters cut are making this decision of their own free will, creating new social conventions that promote the health and human rights of all community members.
Tostan was named the 2007 recipient of the Hilton Humanitarian Award, the worlds largest humanitarian prize. Previous recipients have included Doctors Without Borders and Heifer International.
Molly Melching of Tostan: Dignity for All
Peace Come In