Creating an Educated Future in Mali

Education is the cornerstone of development.  Without global education, coming generations have no viable future.  As a semi-retired U.S.-educator with a Malian godson, I am trying to do what I can to help rebuild a primary school in southern Mali.  To that end, I – along with other like-minded private citizens – am in the process of collecting school supplies and funds for the independent (not government-financed) primary school in N'galabantiebougou, the southern Malian ancestral village of my godson Jack’s father. 

The status of education in this part of the world is complex.  Although public schooling in Mali is theoretically available through age 13, some areas of the country have no schools at all because their geographical locations are considered too inaccessible for the big machinery that would be necessary for construction.  This was the situation in N'galabantiebougou … until recently.

Guided by Jack’s father, the school in N'galabantiebougou – a three-room structure which serves 80 students – was built in 2007 by its villagers and is not supported by public funds.  Three teachers have been hired, the barest essentials (chalk, small chalk boards, paper, pencils, etc.) have been purchased, and a few French dictionaries have been acquired. 

The money for the building and the school supplies came directly from Jack and his father, constituting a substantial financial sacrifice on their part.  Jack, his father, and many villagers have a strong belief that the future of their people – indeed, the future of any people – is to be determined by their access to education.  Accordingly, the citizens of N’galabantiebougou are asked to contribute a nominal sum for the upkeep of the school.  However, these funds do not fully cover the school’s expenses, which is why we need your help to raise $5,000.  The monies we collect will be used for:

Maintenance of the school building:  Because of rain erosion, one of the three classrooms must be rebuilt.  In addition, the entire school structure needs a waterproof roof so that yearly rains no longer erode the walls of the school.  Once the school has been made rain-proof, cushions will be made for the students’ benches so that the youngsters will be more comfortable and therefore better able to learn and study.
Basic school supplies:  Essential learning tools such as paper, notebooks, pens, crayons, pencils, rulers, erasers, chalk, etc. are needed.
Teachers’ salaries:  The school has three teachers, one for each of its three classrooms. 
The creation of a school library:  Basic needs include reference books, dictionaries, classic and contemporary fiction, books on history, geography, music, art, theater, etc. 

Beyond my devotion to my godson and his family, this project is personally important to me, given my lifelong conviction that – in agreement with Jack and his father – the future of any people depends on its access to education.  Having had the privilege of growing up in a resourced country, I believe it is my obligation to try to aid those who did not have such advantages.  As someone whose country – along with other wealthy countries – has wreaked chaos and devastation on the African continent, I feel this obligation particularly strongly. 

 While we cannot reverse centuries of ruination with the renovation of one school, we can provide hope to dozens of school children so that they may, in turn, build a better country and live more fulfilled lives.  Having worked with young students for decades, I well know that there is little that is more powerful than the smile of personal triumph on the face of a young person who has just understood a concept or who has just accomplished something that s/he never thought s/he’d be able to do.  It is precisely this power that I ask you to help us grow.

I wish to express my appreciation to those who contribute to the N’galabantiebougou Independent School, and in so doing extend a much-needed lifeline to this tiny Malian community.  My own gratitude will be nothing compared to that of Jack, his father, and the citizens of N’galabantiebougou for generations to come.

Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

Merci infiniment!


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Alice Diane Kisch 
Emeryville, CA
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