“All begins with the traditions, and all must end with the traditions.” Broulaye Doumbia has been playing djembe for the i4A children’s dance troupe since the project began several years ago.

Instruments 4 Africa is seeking funding to keep children in school and provide them with a quality academic education and training in the traditional arts of Mali. In 2012, we started a remedial tutoring program, and in December 2014 we have completed construction of our remedial education center & dance Paiyotte in Sabalibougou, Bamako. To donate please go to http://ecbiz172.inmotionhosting.com/~i4afri5/donate/ or contact us at instruments4africa@gmail.com

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Summer!  It is that time of the year when we fundraise for the 2013-2014 school year.  Your donations pay for academic scholarships for the 16 underprivileged girls in the i4a program this year.  We are also fundraising for the remedial education program, tutoring and mentoring and the traditional arts training.  New styles of beautiful West African batik dresses are in the USA and ready for fundraising parties!  Big thank you to Robin & Kathy in San Francisco and Bikram Yoga Dallas for raising more than $1000USD each.  We are two steps closer to our goal of $8000USD.  Please contact me to host a trunk show fundraiser or for more information:  tamawali@gmail.com

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.

Claire Ebendinger and Yves Parizeau,
Brentwwod Bay, BC
Canada

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!