Skip to content

Zalissa's story

Zalissa, the secretary of her village's soumbala enterprise group, stood outside her home, holding her baby

Meet Zalissa

Zalissa is a 25 year old mother of three, living in the village of Passimtenga in Burkina Faso. In the past, she struggled to get enough food and money to provide for her family as the forest she relied upon became depleted by forest fires and tree cutting.

But now Zalissa has joined a soumbala enterprise group. With help from tools and training provided through a Tree Aid project, she learnt how to turn dawadawa tree seeds into soumbala ─ a nutrient-rich food. She now earns enough money from soumbala to support her family.

Before the project

Zalissa, like many women in Burkina Faso, was unable to complete her education as her family were unable to afford it. She said, “I went to school but I stopped going at 15. My father said he didn’t have money to pay for my education anymore. I was not happy and I felt very sad."

With a lack of education, Zalissa had limited opportunities to make money and her only option was to work on the land to earn an income. “I had no money because I didn’t complete school. We didn’t have money to buy clothes or extra food.”

“In the past, people destroyed a lot of the environment ─ people cut down trees and destroyed the forest with fire. There was a lot of damage. I would go to the forest and collect fruits and nuts so I could feed my babies. It was not much and some days I didn’t get to eat.”
Zalissa, Passimtenga village, Burkina Faso
Zalissa, the secretary of her village's soumbala enterprise group, processing soumbala with women in her village

Since joining the project

Working with Tree Aid, Zalissa has been able to transform her life. She has learnt how to produce soumbala from dawadawa trees in her community, and to protect the environment for the future. 

Zalissa said, “I have been part of the Tree Aid project for six years. When I joined, I was so happy because I got training about forest products and food production. I learnt how to make soumbala. These activities have helped me to get more income. I feel happiness every day ─ I am proud and I feel strong."

Zalissa, the secretary of her village's soumbala enterprise group, stood outside in arid land holding her baby

“In the group, we have great solidarity, which is a way for women in this village to work together to fight against poverty."

Looking to the future

Since joining the project, Zalissa is hopeful that her children will be able to have a better future. She said, “I also have knowledge and skills, and that means a lot to me. I didn’t think I would have this opportunity when I left school. Now, I am very proud of my life. Because, with income and knowledge, I can get a good life for me, my children and my family.”

"I want to thank Tree Aid and all its supporters. The knowledge and skills we have will be passed on now, long after the project.”