Provide Music Education to Children in Mali

 
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PFCF music student, Guem, lives in Mali's capital city of Bamako and travels 30 kilometers by bus to attend classes at École de Musique de Kirina. Meet his friends, follow him on his journey to the music school, and se how studying music has changed his life. Click here to watch Guem's video diary.

In October 2010, the Playing For Change Foundation opened its second music school in West Africa: L’École de Musique de Kirina, in Mali, located in a small village 30 kilometers outside the capital city, Bamako. Kirina is a unique village, as most of its inhabitants are griots, keepers of the oral tradition and history. We couldn’t have dreamed of a better place in this country to build the school. 

Every week, close to 200 children attend free classes in traditional instruments, dance, English and French. Since 2012, Mali has gone through several serious political issues, and more recently, has experienced the threat and fear of seeing the Ebola virus develop within its borders. Although Mali’s political situation has improved and Ebola hasn’t spread there, the last few years have brought uncertainties and worries for our staff. I just came back from a 10-day trip to Mali and, as always, it was a fantastic and life-changing experience. Malian people are truly among the nicest people I’ve ever met, and are so far from the image traditional media often delivers of them.

The impact of the music school on the village has been quite amazing. In addition to providing music education to the youth and helping to preserve a cultural knowledge that traces back through centuries of oral history and music, the school has generated unexpected initiatives such as the implementation of 300 solar panels in the village by the Malian government and the building of a maternity ward in the village. We also found a great water source in the village and were able to drill a well, thanks to the support of our generous donors. The Malian government then took the initiative to build a well with a solar pump and water tank.

Click on the images below to see our photo gallery on Flickr:

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Jeff and Robert, two musicians from New Orleans, visited Ecole de Musique de Kirina on January 31st, 2015. Jeff, who has his own band, plays an African drum called a Dundun and teaches many kids at music schools in New Orleans. He said there is a hundreds-year history between Mali and New Orleans. According to that history some of the first people to arrive in the land of New Orleans were Abu Bakr II, a Malian emperor, and his men.

Jeff was very excited and happy to be in Mali and particularly in Kirina. Having visited all of the music institutes in Mali’s capital, Bamako, he also said Ecole de Musique de Kirina has the best teachers in Mali. Jeff suggested to those teachers at schools in Bamako to come to Kirina and have workshops with the teachers at Ecole de Musique de Kirina.

Jeff's main dream is to have a Playing For Change music school in New Orleans so that this connection between Mali and New Orleans can be reestablished, and to bring some of the teachers from Ecole de Musique de Kirina to New Orleans to have a cultural exchange. In addition to his band in New Orleans, Jeff wants to create another band in Mali, to which he gave the name “Africabrass." His hope is to strengthen the connection between musicians of New Orleans and those of Mali.

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The 4th Annual Playing For Change Day is upon us! Saturday, September 20th a global community of musicians and PFC fans of all varieties will perform on stages, cafés, city squares, and street corners worldwide and raise money to bring music into the lives of young people. In response to the enthusiasm of those inspired by 'Songs Around the World' and the mission of the Playing For Change Foundation, PFC Day was created in 2011 so that everyone can get involved and become a part of our global community.

Ecole de Musique de Kirina has been an active participant of PFC Day, creating an event and sharing the joy and love with their community since 2011.

The students and teachers at Ecole de Musique de Kirina are now making preparations for PFC Day 2014! This year's celebration will include performances by students, teachers, special guests and some of Mali's finest musicians. The most exciting part of this PFC Day is the students will showcase what they've learned for their community and the world.

Playing For Change Day has been a valuable and effective way for Playing For Change Foundation programs to gather as a community around the music while also providing an opportunity for the children to perform in front of an audience. As a result of the public performances the music students have increased their confidence, skills and ability to work as a team, on stage and off.

“I’m very happy to be attending the music school which can make my dreams come true. I hope it will be here for many other generation after me.” - Nadjo, age 13

We can't wait to see what happens this year! It's definitely a magical, creative experience not to be missed. We're so happy to share this journey with all of you, and appreciate your generous support.

As they say in Mali, Merci beaucoup and in the native language of Bambara, foli. Thank you!

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Village children try out the new well
Village children try out the new well's pumps.

We have great news to share with you along with our thanks!!!

On March 8 a new well, solar pump and water tank were installed in Kirina, Mali!! It has been a dream of ours for some time to provide more water to this village of 2,000 residents where I'Ecole de Musique de Kirina is located. Thanks to the generous support from our donors and partners - to help source the water, install the well and sustain a vibrant school of music and dance that now serves more than 200 children - villagers in Kirina will now have access to more clean water every day!!!

This is a shining example of how music can serve as a vital anchor for all kinds of positive change. For all Playing For Change Foundation programs, we start with the music because it's the core, the basis of community connection. The incredible assistance we receive through partnerships and collaborations provides essential hope and inspiration as well. 

Thank you for being a part of the music school in Mali and for your love and support of children in all of our programs. 

The new well in the village has a solar pump.
The new well in the village has a solar pump.

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Every student, teacher and community member of Kirina wishes 2014 to be a year of peace, love, success, vibrations and positive changes all around the world. Thank you so much for your beautiful support of I'Ecole de Musique de Kirina program. We are honored and grateful to have you as part of our community. Your generosity has helped bring the invaluable gift of music to hundreds of children and strengthened a village.

2013 was an amazing year for the Kirina music school. We've been able to accomplish so much, including hosting a village-wide PFC Day event, enrolling 35 new female students, who are now learning traditional instruments for the first time and locating water near the school. We know 2014 will be even better! 

Merci beaucoup!

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Thea Nash

Culver City, CA United States

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