The Impact of Education: Building a School in Fala, Mali

“In some parts of the world, students are going to school everyday. It’s their normal life. But in other parts of the world, we are starving for an education. It’s like a precious gift. It’s like a diamond.” –Malala Yousafzai

Liz WoodfieldMy journey began in 2012 when I lived in Mali for several months. While I was there, I traveled to several villages. There was a stark contrast between those villages with a school, and those without a school. In villages without a school, there were a lot of malnourished children, there was a lack of energy among the people and very little excitement for life. The villages with a secondary school were happier, cleaner, and more productive. The children were eager and excited, curious and inquisitive. There was also a light in the eyes of children attending school. With additional education comes increased opportunity. Those who complete their education will likely be the next leaders of Mali and help raise their country out of poverty.


Children from the village of Diorila, Mali where there is a middle school.

Fala, with a population of 1,587 children, is a remote village in the southern Sikasso region of Mali, West Africa. There is an elementary school in the village, but no middle school. Almost all children in Fala drop out of school after the 6th grade. With no other options, these children usually end up in the mining towns working as child laborers. In order for the children in Fala to attend middle school, they must walk 7 to 10 km each way to one of the surrounding towns of Touloula, Soumba, Donkerila or Diakaoro.

The community leaders and parents in Fala are committed to helping their children  remain in school. I work with an incredible organization called Empower Mali.  We are currently building a middle school in the village of Fala. The school will serve 150 children each year from Fala and surrounding communities. In addition, the school building will become a community center at night that hosts adult literacy classes and workshops.

Mali schoolThe Field Director of Empower Mali, Yeah Samaké, will oversee the construction of the school. Yeah was born and raised in Mali in a village called Ouélessébougou where he is now the mayor. Yeah has overseen the construction of 19 other middles school in Mali. It costs $60,000 to build a secondary school in Mali. We have already raised $52,000 through generous donations but we still need to raise the remaining $8,000 to finish the school. In order to raise the remaining funds, with the help of our board, I put together this video:

Our campaign ends on Sunday, November 23rd at 11:59pm. Check out our Indiegogo campaign to learn more and donate.

Why education?

Education is central to development and elimination of poverty. As Nelson Mandela states:

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Over 61 million children around the world do not attend school. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of out-of-school children. The UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics (UIS) estimates only 27% of these children will eventually have access to education. A further 26% will start but not finish, while 47% of these children will never have the opportunity. Over 50% of children not in school are girls.

Education makes all the difference. To prove it, studies from UNESCO show that each additional year of education can reduce the risk of child death by 7-9%. Mothers with secondary education are twice as likely to give birth in health facilities as those with no education.

Furthermore, wages rise twenty percent for every year beyond 4th grade that a girl remains in school. If all women in sub-Saharan Africa had a secondary education, 1.8 million lives could be saved each year. Countries that raise literacy rates by 20-30% have seen increases in GDP of 8-16%. Learn more about USAID’s Let Girls Learn campaign and how you can take action to promote girls’ education.

During this time of year in this season of giving, your attention is pulled in so many different directions to so many incredible causes. Every little bit counts – $5, $10, $20 goes a long way. We also have some awesome perks for our campaign: Donate $25 and receive a necklace from Malian artisans, Donate $50 and receive a statue of a mother and her baby, and more.

Donate today and to show your support for education.

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Tagged with: Africa    Development    education    Empowerment    Girl's empowerment    girls' education    Inspiration    Women    Women's Empowerment