Ousmane K. is a 9th grader at Mali Rising's Sue Chung Chiu Middle School in Simidji, Mali. He is the top student in his class, and is very serious about his future.

Ousmane dreams of being a teacher, working for a nonprofit organization working to expand education in Mali, or perhaps even being an interpreter. His interpreter dream is well-based in his very best subject -- English. He says he simply loves speaking English, so finds it fun and easy.

Ousmane does so well in school despite many conflicting priorities. At home he is in charge of his father's goats and sheep. This means he needs to bring them to water and move them regularly so they can graze and grow fat. This job keeps him busy in nearly all of his non-school hours, so he says he makes sure to study from 9 to 10 pm at night in order to maintain his top-of-the-class status.

But this schedule is worth it to Ousmane. He says, "If I have a good education, I can help others in the future. I have to study hard in and out of class."

But it isn't all work and study for Ousmane. He loves to play soccer, although he will only say he "does his best" when we asked if he was an outstanding player. He also enjoys playing cards with his friends during class breaks, and says that chicken is his favorite food.

We invest in education to build a better future for Mali, and that better future will be built by individual kids just like Ousmane. Kids who are making education a priority in their busy lives becuase they too believe it will build something better for themselves and for Mali.