This is Mike and Anna. As some of you may know, we lived together in Mali for six months in 2005- the last six months of Anna's two year Peace Corps service. While there, we met a remarkable young man. Diakalia, or Djack (Jack) for short, was a 13 year old boy who we began to refer to as Mike's sidekick. Djack was friendly and outgoing, eager to learn all he could about us and our country. He was also tenacious- insistant that we let him earn an allowance by carrying our water and helping us around the house. No matter that we could do these things ourselves, he wanted a means to earn money, and he persisted until we agreed. We paid him 20 cents a day to haul 40 pound buckets of water for us- a good wage for such a chore.
He was one of the few village members that did not ask for things from the rich tubabu (the white folks), but instead wanted to earn them through hard work.
Luckily for Djack, he and his family found it important enough for him, a kid from a rural farming village, to have an education. He diligently attended school, even when sick, and always scored high marks in his class. He continued his education after we left in 2005, and eventually reached out to us for help financing his way through college. We have done our best to help pay for his schooling, but our contributions were not always enough to cover everything. He’s skipped meals, lived in less than ideal locations, and worked tirelessly towards his education. In 2017 he graduated from college with a degree in public law.
He now wishes to pursue a Master's Degree and continue his English education. We have done our best, but the Master's tuition- modest as it is in Mali- is beyond our means. We need your help.
A story that we'll never forget: after months of working, Djack had raised enough money to buy himself a second-hand foam mattress- a huge step up from the thin woven mats that he and his family laid on the floors to sleep on. This luxury wasn't his for long- honor demanded that he give the mattress to his mother. Mike and I were baffled- in our culture, what you earn is your own.At the center of Djack's culture though is family-and respect flows upward. Djack passed our shock off with a shrug. "She's my maman," he said "how could I say no to what she asks?"
This dedication to family is one of the reasons that it's hard for individuals in Mali to get ahead. Yes, burdens are shared by all- but good fortune also. When a windfall comes, there is need enough to go around, and a kind hearted boy like Djack can't say no to the people he loves.
Our goal of $10,000 is to finance two years of tuition, books, and education expenses for Djack. We'll need the first $4000 of it in April, 2018 for his first year of tuition.
We will continue to provide the monthly funds for his room and board from our own income. As you can imagine, from the story of the mattress, giving this money in a lump sum would be ill advised, so we intend to hold it in trust for Djack, providing him with funds as he needs them. If we are fortunate enough to raise more funds than is needed, any funds not used for Djack's education will be donated to a charity to help educate others like him.
Thank you for taking the time to read about Djack's story. If you can contribute anything, it will be appreciated. If you can't afford to contribute- will you pass this along to someone who might?
I ni ce. Thank you.
-Anna and Mike
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