Textbooks = A Dancing, Singing, Village-Wide Celebration

By Merritt Frey, Executive Director


I get excited about a new book, but the village of Beneko REALLY gets excited. I mean – they literally throw a party! 

Thanks to the generosity of Mike and Bonnie King and dozens of their friends, last week we delivered more than 1,000 textbooks to our middle school in the remote village of Beneko.  Far too many schools in Mali have ZERO textbooks, so we always find our schools are appreciative of books.  

But the students, parents, teachers, and village elders of Beneko were absolutely over-the-moon about their new books, as you can see in these photos and videos. A huge crowd gathered to watch the unloading of the textbooks and a new storage cabinet to keep them safe. Dancers and singers turned the gathering into a party. Speeches – seriously unavoidable in Mali – made the day officially notable, with officials from the Ministry of Education celebrating the King family’s support and their friends’ generosity.

Mike and Bonnie organized a peer fundraising drive, called Books for Beneko. After donating themselves, they reached out to friends and family to ask for their help. They did an amazing job -- in fact, the funds have continued to arrive so Beneko's students will recieve another book shipment soon. (Interested in doing a drive yourself? Contact Merritt -- we make it easy!)

The books will help students in 7th, 8th, and 9th grade tackle the challenge of their national graduation exam after 9th grade. We included books in the key subjects, including French (both reading and grammar), English, chemistry, physics, math, history, and natural sciences. Previously, three children were sharing each textbook in most of Beneko’s classes.  Now, in most subjects children will have their own book to study from.

If you ever wonder if your donation makes a difference, just check out these photos. Mike and Bonnie King and their friends have just improved the lives of hundreds of students, and those textbooks will help hundreds more over the books’ lifespans. 

Inspired? Donate here and select  “The Book Fund” – each $10 gift provides a textbook. We’ll pair your gift with a Mali Rising school in serious need of textbooks…and then you can celebrate with the school and its village!