We are so, so excited here at Mali Rising! Why? We are preparing to launch the very successful Girls Project in five additional schools this fall!
When we lose someone we love, we often want to find a way to help their memory live on. There are many ways to keep that memory alive. I wanted to share one way a Mali Rising supporter, who is also my mom, decided to keep her sister’s memory alive. Both my mom and my aunt have been supporters of Mali Rising’s Girl Project, but I think we’ve all been surprised at just how much my mom’s idea for making sure my aunt’s belief in the power of young women lived on has mattered to us since we lost Aunt Chris.
For the last three years, Mali Rising has been working closely with girl students in three pilot villages. You can't help a girl stay and succeed in school without helping her overcome certain obstacles that prevent her from advancing or succeeding. Leadership training is an opportunity for us to overcome these obstacles. A leading girl must be able to express herself in public, defend her vision, lead a team, and defeat her shyness.
Just like here in the U.S., students are out of school for the summer in Mali. At the end of each school year but before the students scatter, we hold a celebration in each of our three Girls Project pilot villages. We use the parties for serious goals (collecting feedback, engaging parents, etc.), but they are also just plain fun. I'm sharing some pictures here from the party in Kolimba, a tiny village a few hours of dusty, bouncy dirt road from the nearest pavement.
It is such an annoying grownup question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" But it is an important question for young people as they enter middle and high school. The question is on my mind because one of many questions we ask girls participating in our Girls Project at the beginning of each school year and again at the end of the year.
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.
The older generation tends to worry – or, let’s be honest, complain – about young people’s work ethic, energy, and even empathy. You can think of this as the “Kids today” cliché: “Kids today don’t think of others.” “Kids today don’t take initiative.” Etc., etc. Well Roshini Balan is proving just how cliché that thinking is.
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!
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.
As 2017 winds down and we enjoy the holiday season, many of us are feeling generous and grateful. If you're thinking about channeling those feelings into wrapping up your charitable giving for the year, consider giving a Mali Rising girl the gift of grit.