As announced this summer, our successful Girls Project is growing! After three years of piloting the Project in three villages, as school opened this fall we launched the Project in five new villages. This expansion has allowed us to nearly DOUBLE the young women benefiting from our intensive work. With all 8 villages, this year we will work with 362 young women to help them get in school, stay in school, and thrive.
We love our Girls Project, which strives to recruit more girls into school and retain them there so they have the skills to build the lives they dream off. The Project has been very successful in its initial three pilot villages. We worked in those villages in pilot mode for three years, but are now working with those villages to have them take on the Project in a sustainable way (this will allow us take the Project to five new villages!). As part of that sustainability strategy, we are developing Girl Leaders for each of the pilot villages. These young women are now high school students, but they will be working in the villages to run the Girls Groups and other Project elements. We think they will also serve as great role models for sticking with school.
Mali Rising Foundation is trying something new to make sure our Girls Project is sustainable — micro-finance loans through our Mothers’ Loan Fund. With this new micro-finance project, more than 30 mothers in our three pilot villages will benefit from credit to finance their small businesses.
As part of keeping girls in school, Mali Rising’s Girls Project initiated a new activity that will allow girls to have not only theoretical knowledge but also practical knowledge. This month, our session with the girls focused on "good nutrition.” The purpose of this activity is to teach girls the different nutritious foods, the composition of a balanced breakfast, the importance of breakfast especially for teenagers, how to eat well. The aim is to give girls the love of school through the preparation of new dishes with local products. Our dish of the day was bean dumplings and vegetable salads.
At this time of year there is just so much going on at Mali Rising schools that it is hard to keep everyone up to date on all the news. Year-end exams and summer are rushing at our students, just like they are here in the United States. But I wanted to share just a little peek at something powerful girls involved with our Girls Project have been up to -- meeting with career women in Mali to explore options for their future.
Boumadyè is and 18-year-old graduate of Mali Rising’s Sue Chung Chiu Middle School in the little village of Simidji. She used her Inspiration Scholarship to move to the capitol city of Bamako to pursue a secretarial degree at a vocational school. Why? Because she covets an influential role in the mayor’s office…
We love gritty girls. Gritty, you say? Yes! Grit, leadership skills, teamwork abilities, and self-confidence are critical traits for strong kids. These traits are especially important for girls in Mali, who must overcome many obstacles to get the education they deserve. Thanks to our donors, we support the development of all these traits through participation with our new girls' soccer teams. Check out this blog post for news and photos from the first-ever, inter-school Mali Rising soccer match!
April is Alumni Month here at Mali Rising. Each week in April, we feature a story from one of our graduates. With 14 years of work behind us, our graduates are now doing out great things out in the world. Whether they're using their education in college or a job, or to be more savvy in the market or to keep their children healthy, we're proud of our alumni. This week we feature Abdou. Abdou Doumbia just might be Mali Rising’s first alumnus philosopher. Truly.
When I talk with anyone about our work, the project that people most connect with is our Girls Project. Men and women, people from the U.S. or people from Mali, younger or older -- everyone gets excited about making sure girls get an equal education. So I try to be sure to do a periodic update on our girls progress under the Girls Project. I know you're rooting for our girls, so here's the latest news from our Girls Project Coordinator, Hindaty.