By Merritt Frey, Executive Director
Mali Rising is lucky to have to very dedicated staff in Mali. In this blog post, we feature our Field Director, Alou Doumbia. Alou has worked for Mali Rising since January 6, 2013. As the Field Director, Alou is in charge of the Mali office, and is a true jack-of-all-trades. We’re lucky to have Alou keeping the great work going on the ground in Mali every day, and so we wanted to share a little background on his work with Mali Rising's supporters.
Mali Rising: What is your favorite part of your job?
The favorite part of my work is the organization of expeditions and visits in the villages with the partners from Utah to see my work.
Mali Rising: What is the hardest part of your job?
The most difficult part of my job is traveling on very bad tracks with a very old car that often falls down in the middle of the bush and even at night.
Mali Rising: Do you have a story from a Mali Rising student that inspires you to keep up with your hard work?
Sekou Samake has lost both parents since infancy. His grandmother enrolled him at the school in the village of Seguessona where there was no second cycle [middle school] in the village. When he finished with the first cycle [elementary school], he was going to drop out of school because of the distance he had to go to study in Ouélessebougou.
In the same year, Mali Rising built the second cycle of Seguessona – Jade & Gabe Mellor Middle School. Sekou took advantage of this situation and continued his studies to obtain DEF [note: this is the diploma required for graduation, which involves passing a very challenging exam at the end of 9th grade]. After passing the DEF, in the fall of 2016 he was lucky enough to be supported as an Inspiration Scholar by Mali Rising to facilitate his studies at the public high school of Ouélessebougou with a grant. With help from Mali Rising, Sekou must continue with the 11th year for the school year 2017-2018.
Mali Rising: Please describe your typical week in the Mali Office.
My typical week at work is different during the school year versus over the school vacation. During the school year on Mondays I stay at the office to answer emails and prepare weekly visits and then on Tuesday I travel to visit one of Mali Rising’s schools and accompany the coordinator of Girl Project. On Wednesdays I usually stay in the office to: respond to emails, hunt for good prices on school textbooks and prepare the book delivers or prepare for activities like the teacher training, or I produce reports. On Thursdays I again travel to visit a Mali Rising school or visit schools that have received our Inspiration Scholars, or accompany the coordinator of the Girl Project for her meetings or distribute textbooks. Fridays I stay at the office to respond to emails and enter financial reports or report activities or discuss with contractors for construction quotes on new school buildings. On Saturdays I come to the office to continue the office work that is not finished on Friday or to organize an educational conference with the teachers. On Sundays, I rest.
During holidays, Mali Rising does a lot of construction and maintenance. So, on Monday I will travel to visit a school building site, while on Tuesdays I stay at the office to process pictures and reports and answer emails. On Wednesdays I would likely travel to visit another repair site or contact the school Principals to help them fill out the scholarship selection forms for their graduates. Thursday might see me travel to potential villages in need of a new school and Friday and Saturday I’ll be back in the office to catch up on email, process images and reports, or make payment of invoices from contractors. Often I travel on Sundays to meet the appointments of the villagers or to answer the call of the Principals.
Mali Rising: Please tell us a little about your wife and family.
My wife is Madina Drama; she is 40 years old. Before she married me in 2002, she studied and obtained the certificate of professional aptitude in banking and accounting. She has had 6 children -- 4 girls and 2 boys. She did not have a fixed job but she supervises the children. My first daughter is 16 years old, she took the DEF this year with her little brother of 14 years. The other children do the first cycle [elementary school] and the smallest is 3 months old.
Mali Rising: What do you like to do for fun?
When I do not work, I like to watch the Malian theaters to distract me.
Mali Rising: You work very hard. What inspires you to keep working all the time?
My inspiration to keep working all the time is: I serve my country; I give opportunities to my brothers and sisters or sons to earn a living. I give work to the Malians who often have no hope of finding work. I help vocational school promoters to have more students enrolled. This is the development of my country so I am positive.
Join us in thanking Alou for his hard work for Mali's children and for making sure your donations are put to the best possible use!