By Marissa Sittler, Mali Rising intern
Strong. Motivated. Empowering. These are just a few of the words that come to mind when we think of Hindaty Traore, our Girls Project Coordinator. Hindaty first joined our team as a volunteer intern, where her passion and drive was clearly evident in the work she did. After almost two years, she was hired as a staff member and since then, continues to dedicate herself to the Girls Project.
The Girls Project is implemented in the villages of Beneko, Simidji, and Kolimba. This program strives to improve recruitment of girls in middle school, to retain more girls in middle school, and to make sure the girls see real results in terms of school success and life skills. We have seen great success with the project so far, in large part thanks to Hindaty. She is proud to be in charge of such a “noble and beautiful” project, and sees it as “an honor for me because I like to defend the cause of girls, and know that I not only contribute to giving them a better future, but also to the educational development of my country.”
Inspiration can be drawn from endless sources, but for Hindaty, her inspiration comes from our girls. She is inspired by raising awareness of the importance of girls’ education, the friendship and bond between her and the girls, and also sharing her own journey. Hindaty says she is, “inspired to show them what happened to me, to direct something like the Girls Project. They see me as an idol through my way of thinking, my way to transmit new ideas. They are curious to know what it took me to become educated. They want to become like me or even better than me, and it touches me enormously.”
Hindaty’s advice to girls is simple, yet very imperative: “My very dear girls stay in school because your future depends on it. You must to change your daily status so that you are no longer considered as the weak sex, have confidence, show your parents that you are able to succeed in school, that you have an importance in building the nation. Give yourself the opportunity to go to school and stay there until obtaining a diploma.”
Despite the lure of work at mines or in the trades, early marriages, and a lack of understanding of the need for girls’ education from parents in the villages, Hindaty has an optimistic outlook for Mali’s educational future because of NGOs (non-governmental organizations), such as Mali Rising. She admits, “before working with Mali Rising, I had a negative mindset on children’s education in Mali because of our government’s education policy. Thanks to Mali Rising, I realize that there is hope when such an initiative, like the Girls Project, grows in the country.”
On a final note, a note that we should all think about, Hindaty urges girls to, “Study to change the mentality of certain groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Taliban in Pakistan who are at war with the very idea of the education of girls. Study to change the mentality of certain parents who think that girls are only good to be married and be mothers at home. Let us show that the logic of girls' education has never been difficult to understand, that girls are the hope of tomorrow.”
Thank you, Hindaty, for the amazing work you do for us every day. Your passion, dedication, and spirit inspires us.