Before school even starts each day, Mamadou has worked hard to be there. His day starts with a 90-minute walk to school, often making him late for class...and always leaving him tired.

But it is worth it to Mamadou and the three siblings who walk with him from their village of Sirakoro. He says, "We leave Sirakoro at 7 am and arrive at school at 8:20 or 8:30 am. We are always late. We spend the whole day at school."

School in Mali runs from 8 am until 5 pm, with a long midday break. Because Mamadou and his siblings are so far from home, they can't go home on the break. Mamadou says, "Our mothers give us couscous and sugar and often even no sugar for our meal at noon. We have a lot of difficulty with this long [walk]. I am always tired at night and cannot even learn my lessons." After a three hour walk and nine hours at school, we can only imagine how tired Mamadou is!

Mamadou makes the trek to our Nieta Kalanso Middle School in Kolimba because it is his one chance to change his life for the better, for ever. Mamadou says, "After my studies, I would like to be a doctor like Dr. Adama in our hospital."

Mamadou is in the 7th grade.Mamadou's favorite subject is English. He says, "I like their way of talking." 

Both of Mamadou's parents died when he was seven, so he lives with his uncle. His uncle is a farmer, so Mamadou helps grow the family's rice, millet, and corn. His dream of becoming a doctor may seem far off, but his long walk proves Mamadou can go the distance.