One of our first events sponsoring musicians from the north of Mali was with Khaira Arby at the American Club Bamako in October 2012. This was Khaira’s first concert in Bamako since the coup in late March 2012. With USAID, we helped to organize this event to support displaced artists from the north of Mali. It was a joyous occasion for the musicians and everyone there. Thank you to Khaira for sharing her wisdom and beautiful music, USAID, The American Embassy of Bamako, our friends Toubab Krewe and Afropop for their support, and all those who are reaching out to help keep the music and culture alive.
This video was made in September 2012 to be shown at a benefit concert in NYC to aid musicians from the north of Mali.
With the help of volunteers, like Nana, whose family comes from northern Mali, we have been able to contact more than 40 musicians from northern Mali to assess their family’s needs. We are continuing to add families to our database of displaced musicians and artists from the north of Mali.
An article today in the Washington Post has highlighted the difficulties facing musicians and artists from the North of Mali. Instruments 4 Africa is on the ground in Bamako helping musicians and artists from the North. We are 100% volunteer managed organization based in Bamako since 2003.
We are partnering with artists like Afel Bocoum, Baba Salah, and Khaira Arby and organizations like The National Museum of Bamako to support artists to get back on their feet, share their art, while earning a living and keeping the culture alive.
Yesterday, Instruments 4 Africa sponsored eight different musicians who are refugees from the North of Mali to play with Afel Boccum & Alkibar at an event at the National Museum that was sponsored by several embassies and local Malian businesses. They were joined by: Aboulaye Yattara (Toumbouctou), Mahaman Gassamba (Toumbouctou, Goundam) , MahamadouTelfi Toure (Toumbouctou, Goundam), Thiale Arby (Toumbouctou), Ibrahim Cisse (Niafunke), Ibrahim Nabo (Toumbouctou, Goundam), El Hodj Mahalmadan (Toumbouctou), Leila Gobi (Gao), Masser Maiga (Gao), Sekou Toure (Niafunke). This was our 5th event this fall to sponsor displaced musicians from the North.
We are continuing to add displaced artists to our database and volunteers are contacting the families to assess their needs. There is also an emergency fund for medical, school fees, food, etc. Please feel free to contact us for further information. When making donations please note “Aid for Northern Artists”.
Yves and I were excited about going to Mali last year, and to learn about Instruments4africa. As we had much experience teaching in French Immersion, we looked forward to contributing to a cause that would help children get an education, and hopefully better opportunities for work and a healthier life.
When we arrived in November 2011 it took a couple of weeks to adjust to the conditions, climate, city life, and to the African way of operating.
Greeting everyone is a lengthy daily procedure, and is very important as it creates ties and connections with everyone.
Solidarity is a word we often heard, and people were very kind and helpful to us.
Using good humor, being patient, considerate and tolerant are important in all interactions. ….If the taxi stalls, we help push or just wait for another to come along…. if we arrive late we are still greeted with smiles and friendliness…. if there is a shipment of French cheese at the little Supermarket we buy some (now !) because there may be no more for a few weeks.
And music is everywhere, as casual neighborhood performances in the street or as scheduled events. We were lucky to live near the Palais de la Culture and to be able to attend excellent shows often.
Then the project started to take form; we decided to set up an open air classroom in the yard of the Togola Community Center at Sabalibougou. The aim was to give the girls who were struggling in school a base in French, to enable them to speak, read and write, and to give them basic math skills using hands on activities.
We tried to use relevant situations such as writing about themselves and about daily events, learning about math through money, shopping at the market, measuring themselves and estimating, problem solving, etc
As motivator we also created a booklet about them and their neighborhood. They learned how to use the camera, wrote sentences for each page, and helped compile the booklets in proper order.
The progress was fast and rewarding, for them and for us. During the 6 weeks that we taught them they learned to read and write simple sentences, to answer in phrase form and they developed self confidence. We also learned so much from them, their family life, their passion for dancing, their eagerness to learn, their appreciation for every little gift or contribution (a lesson on fraction, using papaya and watermelon- a treat !).
We were sad to leave and determined to find a Malian teacher who could continue the work with the girls, and we discovered Bakary. We decided to fund his salary ’till the end of the school year. We have been fundraising since we returned in Canada to keep him on board this year. We hope to go back soon and expand the project to include more students, and eventually build a school.
Staying connected with Paul and Tama has been great as they keep us well informed about the project, life in Bamako, and the politics of the country. They were so helpful to get us set up and feel at ease when we arrived.
Now we only need to get our Malian names when we return.
The coup in Mali on March 22, 2012 was devastating to the country. The people of Mali are struggling but the attitudes toward life remain positive. I have been so fortunate to make Mali my home since 2003 and learn from the Malian people. My life will never be the same. I am so happy we will be able to return to Mali and continue our projects there!
I have thought a lot about opportunity and how privileged I have been to be able to look back on the wonderful opportunities I have taken and some of the others that I passed up. I know many people in Mali who have never had an opportunity for advancement. Can you imagine never having an opportunity to realize your potential?
Instruments 4 Africa is about providing opportunities to underprivileged Malian youth. We believe in quality education, cultural preservation, and serving the whole individual to have a chance, an opportunity that may assist them in realizing their potential.
Contact me to learn more about volunteer opportunities to be a positive force and provide an opportunity for one of the 12 Malian girls in our program.
Ho ho ho! Papa Noel came to the Jigeseme School in Sabalybougou this week! Yves was the best Papa Noel ever, complete with candy cane tracksuit and belly like a bowl full of jelly! The little ones were singing, happy and enjoying their gifts. The I4A girls troupe performed for their entire school and they were excellent! It was an awesome day! Happy Holidays!
It’s that time of year for charitable giving. We are proud to say that 100% of your donations go directly to the girls’ education programs at Instruments 4 Africa. As per Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, “…money goes farther in the developing world…the most cost effective interventions are often at the grassroots level.” While many of the big organizations spend a chunk of their donations on big fundraising campaigns, we at instruments4africa keep administrative costs to a bare minimum. The small group of us who run the organization do it on a strictly volunteer basis. This is why we can apply 100% of your donation directly to those in need.
Small donations add up and make a big difference in these young girls’ lives. Thank you, we could not do it without your support. I continue to be inspired by the girls…their potential and progress. You are giving them a chance to create a different future for themselves, their families and their community. Again, to quote Nicholas Kristof, “Building self-reliance and empowering people to fix their own problems is key.” We agree, we aim to do this and we are true believers in the possibility.
I am also inspired by those who reach out and give from their hearts. Like the two volunteer teachers, Claire and Yves, that are here from Canada, giving their energy to help the girls catch up in reading. They are angels! All of you out there who bought dresses and bags this summer, thank you! We are still running on those funds, but we need more for the next trimester of schooling. As always, your donations are tax-deductible. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us! Join us in providing opportunities, you’ll be happy you did! Wishing you much joy and inspiration this holiday season!
Thanks to the donations from Toubab Krewe and Craiggie Brewing in Asheville, NC, construction is underway on the Krewe School House in Bamako, Mali, West Africa. The community is delighted and grateful…as are we at Instruments4Africa. Thank you, Toubab Krewe and Craiggie!! Brick by brick…Stay posted.