Hi, I’m Sofi Seck, a former photographer based in St. Louis, MO but originally from Senegal, West Africa. A long time ago, my parents divorced. My mom had nothing — no money, no education, and nothing to her name. But in me, she had hope. She believed that through education, I could break the cycle of depending on men to be our saviors. Although she didn’t have an education, she could make things with her hands. She weaved, sewed and created things to sell, hoping against hope that she could save enough money to buy me a plane ticket to America.
I eventually came to the states and graduated from college. I started a business and for 8 years, I was a successful photographer and happy. Except, the little voice in my head. One that always asked, “why did I have to leave everything that I knew and loved for better opportunities”? Why weren’t the opportunities there, in Senegal? Truth is, Senegal is a developing country and educating girls in the village is not a top priority. Many girls in my country don’t have the same options like I was fortunate to have in America. It’s extremely common for children to get jobs at 12 years old, usually as housekeepers. Sometimes girls have to use their looks to get what they can from men. There’s little choice because otherwise, when they go home, there’s no food, no electricity, no money to buy the things they need.
My moving to the states, getting an education, opening my own business and having been so privileged for so many years have led me to this very pivotal point in my life. I can no longer sit in my privilege while girls back home struggle to get educated, to put food on the table, and to hope. The average low income household in Senegal earns $80 to $100 a month while the average university costs $100 a month to attend. In Senegal, education is for the elite. I plan to change that. To create a place where Senegalese women don’t have to send their children away in the name of hope. Two years ago, I closed my photography business and I have poured my entire being and resources towards addressing these issues through founding the social enterprise that is Expedition Subsahara.
I realize this plan is big and that it won’t happen overnight, but I’m in it for the long haul. This season, your holiday gift giving has the power to do so much more. We are Expedition Subsahara and translate beautiful handmade goods into girls education and empowerment. This is a two way street--our products don’t just benefit the less fortunate; they also give you a way to engage in conscious and thoughtful gift giving. Hit the link in bio to shop the goods.