This is Mariam Sadio Traoré. Today Mariam is a married 25-year-old mother. But nine years ago, Mariam was a young girl living with her large family in the small village of Kassela in south-eastern Mali, and her time at school was running out all too soon.

When it came time for Mariam to leave primary school for middle school, there was no school in her village. “Our elder brothers and sisters traveled 10 kilometers (6 miles one-way) to study in Baguineda,” Mariam remembers.  “Because of this painful trip to school, many of my sisters have dropped out of school to get married.”

But Mariam was lucky. In 2008 – just as she needed a middle school – the Mellor family donated a new school for her village through Mali Rising. 

Mariam says, “When this school came, we who had the chance to study in these classrooms near our parents were able to continue our studies. Because of that, I became a secretary. If it were not for this school, we were not going to finish school because we had to go to Baguinida or Bamako.”

Today, Mariam is a secretary in service at Baguineda City Council. This is a good, solid job that provides a living wage for Mariam and her family. It also allows Mariam to give back to the people of Baguineda and Mali. Mariam says, “Thanks to Mali Rising Foundation for giving me the opportunity to change my life and to be useful to my family and society.”