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Photos by Geoff Oliver Bugbee

Thirty-year-old Clarice Tine has biceps Madonna would die for, plus she’s got her hands on the money.

Tine is the treasurer for the Fandene community group near Thies in Senegal. Her group is working with Heifer to bring brawnier breeds of sheep and pigs to their village, where need grows each year as the weather turns drier and less hospitable to traditional crops.

Women’s lib is slow to catch on in rural Senegal, but Fandene embraced Tine as the obvious choice to be the money man.

“What they are looking for is someone who is fair and honest. If you give the responsibility to a woman, you will have that,” our translator Mbouille Diallo explained.

The vice chairman of the group in Fandene is also a woman, although the leadership in most neighboring villages is solely male. A junior high graduate and trained seamstress who earns extra money doing intricate embroidery work, Tine had the education credentials and work ethic to take on a leadership role. And she lived for a few years on her own in the raucous capital city of Dakar, proving she had savvy.

Tine’s awesome arms come from toting around her sons, ages 5 and 2, and fetching water at the well each day. Both of these jobs are considered women’s work in Senegal.

But here’s the thing. Schlepping toddlers and hauling dozens of buckets of water up from a well 40 feet deep apparently result in gorgeous arms and shoulders unmatched by any of the men we spied nearby. Madge, take note.

Austin Bailey is in Senegal this week, reporting on projects for Heifer's magazine, World Ark.


Austin Bailey

Austin Bailey is a writer and editor for Heifer's World Ark magazine.