Boubacar is a math-loving 14-year-old boy living in the tiny village of Zambougou, Mali. This fall he started the 9th grade at Mali Rising’s Denik Middle School.

We built Denik Middle School in partnership with the village elders and parents in 2015.  Boubacar knows he has benefited from this partnership, "If there were no school in my village, I would suffer because the neighboring villages are with schools are far away for walking. The nearest other schools are 7 & 10 kilometers from home."

Although Boubacar likes to roughhouse and play sports as much as any teenage boy anywhere (see photographic evidence below), he is also a very serious student. "After I graduate, I'd like to continue my studies studying mathematics," he explains. "It is very important for me to learn more on this topic that I love so much. When I grow up, I want to become a math teacher to transmit my knowledge to a lot of children, especially those from my village."

And Boubacar sees his education as opening up a whole new future for himself, "When I imagine my life in 10 years, I see a quiet, peaceful life, with lots of happiness, money, and health. I will be enjoying a brilliant student life and finishing my studies with great accolades."

But like so many of our students, Boubacar also has a plan for giving back to his family and to Mali. He proudly proclaims, "When I can, I will help my parents by building a new house and meet the needs of the family so that they no longer suffer. I'd also build schools in villages in need as Mali Rising does. I want students to have a fulfilling and easy school life. I thank my parents, Mali Rising, and my teachers for my education."

We can't wait to see the future Boubacar builds for himself with his passion for math and his hopes for giving back. Kids like Boubacar are just what Mali -- and any country really -- needs to build a better future.