Dear Friends of Caravan to Class:
There is only one week left in the GlobalGiving (the leading online giving charitable site) Challenge. Because of your support and generosity, Caravan to Class has raised more than $27,000 from over one hundred donors and we are currently in the leading position of more than 250 small charitable organizations. If we maintain this position, we will earn an additional $3,000 in bonus grants from GlobalGiving. We could not have achieved this without your help.
The building of our Mora school project is well underway. I am hoping to have photos to send you in the very near future. With the funding we received during the GlobalGiving campaign, in addition to our first foundation grant from the Lefkofksy Family Foundation, we will be able to begin the construction of our third school in the village of Amachacha.
My family and I are currently in Mali. Our partner travel organization, Mali Yaara Adventure Tours helped set up a trip of a lifetime for me, my wife, and two sons. Unfortunately, due to the kidnappings that have occurred outside of Timbuktu, we were unable to visit the villages, where Caravan to Class does its work, due to security issues in the Sahara Desert region of Mali. However, I did manage to spend some time in Mali’s capital, Bamako, with our Timbuktu-based partner NGO Mr. Hamadou Toure. While nothing has changed with the Caravan to Class education program, tourism has all but dried up in the fabled city of Timbuktu and the surrounding desert areas. Hamadou told me that the village heads of Mora and Tedeini have said one of the few areas of hope are the schools of Caravan to Class. Fortunately, the Malian government, together with the French military has begun deployment of troops into the Sahara Desert.
Mali is a desperately poor country, in the bottom five on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. The country is currently experiencing almost a complete absence of tourism, a big driver of foreign currency and jobs, and had one of the worst rainfalls in many years, leading to a very bad harvest. The hotels we are staying at, which were full two years ago, are completely empty. Despite Mali’s problems,, the people, known for their hospitality and friendliness, could not be kinder. They are without a doubt, some of the warmest, most spiritual people one can ever meet. We spent four amazing days in the cliff-dwelling villages of the Dogon. It is a feeling of going back in time hundreds, if not a thousand years. The smiling faces and calls of “Cas va?” from all the children literally warm your heart. These are challenging times for Mali, but we have a lot to learn from these people.
There are many other treasures, aside from the Sahara Desert areas, to see in Mali. If you have the interest, time, and means, you should consider a trip to this wonderful country. For those of you who have been, you know it can be a life-changing experience. If you have interest, please contact either Ms. Haike Spiller or her Timbuktu-born husband Male to inquire about travel to Mali or other countries in West Africa.
For those of you who have not yet done so, please consider joining our Caravan to Class Facebook page where you can follow our Mora school project. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Caravan-to-Class/113403862032104
Thank you again.