Women’s Bazaar brings together AB 201, local community

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Rose Gudex
  • 406th Air Expeditionary Wing

The 409th Air Expeditionary Group hosted 24 local vendors from the city of Agadez to participate in a Women’s Bazaar on Dec. 2, which generated 7 million Central African Francs ($11,350) in revenue for the local communities.

The event drew nearly 250 U.S. base personnel to the Nigerien Armed Forces (FAN) compound on Air Base 201, where they purchased more than 750 items ranging from hand-woven baskets to traditional African clothing and hand-carved sculptures.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Barton Land, 724th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron and installation commander, said the bazaar provided more than just revenue—it gave the joint personnel on AB 201 the opportunity to learn more about the culture of Niger and strengthen ties with the Agadez community.

“It helps build a strong relationship between us and the people of Agadez,” Land said. “This initiative is also part of a greater effort to promote Women, Peace, and Security across the continent.”

The event highlighted the craftsmanship of local women who brought pieces of their heritage to the cultural exchange. Not only did the bazaar enable interactions that many service members may never have experienced, but the funds raised will have a significant economic impact on the communities that make up Agadez.

Because trade had been part of the Agadez culture for decades, a decline in tourism that began in 2007 hit local communities hard. AB 201 has hosted about three bazaars a year since it became operational in 2019, helping to revitalize the local economy. What makes this bazaar different is that it was organized and coordinated by the local Women’s Association in Agadez, said U.S. Army Capt. Lindsey Martinez, 437th Civil Affairs Battalion, Alpha Company team leader.

“It’s so important to support small local businesses, and especially women-owned businesses because they often get unfairly excluded from the local marketplace,” said Martinez. “With a woman-specific bazaar, we’re able to focus our efforts on the community who needs the most support while still benefiting from beautiful local goods.”

Land said the event was successful due to base volunteers who provided transportation, security and various other kinds of support.

Other agencies involved in event planning were the 437th CA Bn, the 409th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, the AB 201 Women’s Association and the FAN, among others.

Personnel who attended the event said they were grateful for the opportunity to participate in the cultural exchange and proud to support the local community. AB 201 agencies are planning for another bazaar in the future.