Thank you so much for your incredible support for Caravan to Class and literacy in Timbuktu during our Global Giving yearend campaign. Due to your strong support, we were able to raise a total of $24,234 to help fund the rebuilding of our Tombouz school which was partially destroyed by militants linked to Al Qaida in later 2012.
In addition, as a result of finishing third in funds raised out of more than 2,154 projects from more than 500 foundations, we were able to secure an additional $2,000 in bonus grants from Global Giving. Rebuilding the Tombouz will create a great school environment for the roughly 120 children, grades 1st -6th to realize their dream of an education and hope for their future.
One of my personal heroes, Nelson Mandela, who only recently passed away, said it best about education when he said “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” I am in favor of a strong defense in the U.S. However, something is out of balance when I see that $1.5 trillion that was spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in addition to the more than $1 million per minute we spend on our regular defense budget. Something tells me that if we could only allocate a small portion of that to helping educate children in the world’s poorest and most at-risk places like Mali, we could indeed find ourselves a safer world. We have to recognize that despite the overwhelming amount spent on the U.S. military, we actually do not necessarily live in a safer world now. As George Packer wrote in his New York Times blog, “war is too blunt an instrument, by itself, against the complexity, volatility and durability of Islamist violence.”
This does relate well to Mali’s situation over the past few years. By de-prioritizing the development of Mali’s north, like the Timbuktu region, the Malian government created a fertile ground for the militant Ansar Dine, linked to Al Qaida, to appeal to Tuareg separatists who felt as if they had little to lose. It is sad to think how much less bloodshed, destruction, disruption, and money could have been saved had Mali been able to do some simple things like a) have a school in every village, b) build infrastructure to promote jobs, trade and agriculture, c) provide financing to farmers.
Hopefully, there were some lessons learned during 2012 and now, with the UN peace-keeping force in place in Timbuktu and the north, and international donors ready to increased targeted aid, Timbuktu can not only recover from the past few years but move to a better place. Caravan to Class is now on the ground in five villages, and we are hoping eight by the end of 2014, promoting literacy and giving the deserving children of Timbuktu the dream of an education.
Thank you again for supporting our cause we will certainly keep you informed as we make progress in rebuilding the Tombouz school. As you can see from the photos, we have already begun making the bricks to start the building of the school thanks to your support.
Founder, Caravan to Class
Dear Donors to the Big Birthday Wish to Restore School in Timbuktu
First, as the Founder and Executive Director of Caravan to Class, I want to wish you a Happy New Year!
I also want to thank you again for your important support for Debbie and Eileen and their Big Birthday Wish to Restore the Tourari school.
We have just finalized our yearend campaign and our happy to say that thanks to your support, we were able to raise roughly $14,000. These funds are already being put to work to rehabilitate the classrooms in the Tourari school, pay for teachers’ salaries, provide books and school supplies, and basic nutrition for roughly 140 students. You can see one class that we have already rehabilitated from the old mud-brick to cement-facing.
In addition, our partner, Arche Nova, a Germany-based NGO focused on health-related school issues, has already renovated the latrines (see attached photos).
While so many difficulties remain for the villages near Timbuktu, security, water, sanitation, income, etc. However, I do know that the despite on-going challenges, so many in Timbuktu are happy to be back in their villages and are particularly grateful to that their children are back in school and learning. In the case of Tourari, the village children are able to, once again, pursue their dream of literacy thanks to you.
Caravan to Class
Dear Supporters of the project to rebuild the Tombouz school in Timbuktu, Mali:
I wish to thank you again for your very generous support for Caravan to Class and literacy for children in villages around Timbuktu and the Southern Sahara Desert.
Last week we witnessed the funeral of a great man, Nelson Mandela. Unfortunately, leaders like Mandela come around once in a generation. Much of West Africa sorely needs leaders like Mandela, Mali included. One of Mandela's most frequently used lines was "Education is a weapon that can be used to change the world". At Caravan to Class, we could not agree more! Unfortunately, during much of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, it was real weapons that were used by Ansar Dine, a group closely linked with Al Qaida, to subjugate an already at-risk population in Northern Mali. During this militant takeover of Timbuktu, two Caravan to Class schools, Tourari and Tombouz, were partially destroyed by the militants.
Caravan to Class is thankful, this Holiday Season, to be able to resume our work helping one of the world's most marginalized people, the Tuareg children of Timbultu, achieve their dream of literacy. This could not have happened without your support. Our hope, as the saying goes, is that we can "turn a tragedy into an opportunity". With the recent visit of UN Secretary-General Ban K-Moon and a high level UN delegation to Timbuktu recently, we see the possibility of hope for this historic, ancient, and fascinating place. For more on this, visit, please read the link: http://timbuktu-lopac.tumblr.com/.
Caravan to Class has been able to reopen five schools and plan to rebuild two of them during 2014. The other schools will likely not be reopened in 2014 due to lack of critical mass of village inhabitants (yet to return as refugees in neighboring Burkina Faso). We will continue to support these fives schools paying teachers' salaries, providing basic nutrition (a huge draw to getting children into school), and books/school supplies until other the villages are able to support the operations of their schools or other, larger NGOs can support their operations (UNICEF, Plan International) etc.
Thank you again for your support and as our project progresses, I will certainly inform you and send pictures.
If you would like your thank you gift, a CD of famous Malian singer Vieux Farka Toure's latest CD "Mon Pays", please send me an e-mail with your mailing address and I will happily send you one.
Barry Hoffner, Founder and Executive Director, Caravan to Class