Dear Donors and Friends of the Caravan to Class School for the Hearing Impaired:
As Executive Director of Caravan to Class, I just returned from a trip to Timbuktu, Mali where I visited the only School for the Hearing Impaired in the entire Timbuktu Region (Ecole des Deficients Auditifs) that Caravan to Class supports. The school has was built with the aid of a large French NGO which is no longer working in the Timbuktu region. The building is a nice one as is the land, donated by the Timbuktu Regional Government. Unfortunately, financing for food and teachers is limited. In addition, though the school has a bus, it does not have the means to finance money for a bus driver nor even gasoline for the bus. Some of the students live far away and thus this impacts daily attendance. Please consider supporting. Even a small donation, $10, can make a difference.
Before I tell you about the school, I would like to update you on the challenges facing Northern Mali. There were a series of kidnapping of foreigners in the town of Timbuktu itself and in the a nearby town. While the Malian Government, at times like to play up the Al Queda link, in order to induce involvement of both the French and US forces, the situation itself if very complex. The biggest change, for the negative on the situation in Northern Mali, was the downfall of the Gadhafi Government in Libya. Gadhafi himself had invested a lot of money in Mali and in Timbuktu in particular. He had a large house in Timbuktu and a few hotels. All are now unoccupied and the Timbuktu government is now waiting for the new Libyan Government to claim them.
Many of Gadhafi’s best-trained soldiers were Turage. After the fall of Gadhafi, they loaded up their trucks and left with their arms. These ex-soldiers are well-armed, well-trained, and know the desert well. They created a very combustible situation in the desert and reignited a Tuareg rebel group to take arms against the Malian government to have their own separate state, the Azawad. While there are very legitimate complaints by the Tuareg and others in Northern Mali about the lack of investment in basic necessities like health services, education, and infrastructure, it is only a tiny percentage of the population that is militant. After a few clumsy attempts to attack some villages that the rebels took over, the rebels counter-attacked, killing and beheading many Malian soldiers. This ignited significant ethnic tension between the Tuareg and the Bombara (Mali’s main ethnic group) as far away as Bamako. As a result, many Tuareg fled their villages in the Timbuktu area to Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Niger and are only now starting to return.
As a direct result of the above, the Malian Military intervened last week with a Coup d’Etat. We hope that Mali, a country that had previously been lauded as one of Africa’s more stable democracies, will soon return to democracy.
The above has also impacted the Timbuktu for the Hearing Impaired. All foreign NGO that were based in Timbuktu have left and funding has dried up. There are no foreign tourists now in Timbuktu at all, which has significantly impacted the work prospects for a large segment of the population. Caravan to Class is one of the few charitable organizations still active in the area and we intend to increase our investments in education in the area.
The school is run by a 25 year old, Mr. Kailou Diop. He became deaf at the age of nine due to a severe illness. From what I saw, he does an amazing job bringing hope to the hearing impaired at the school. Aside from real sign-language learning that was clearly taking place, he seems to inspire the children through teaching about interesting topics like analyzing movies. Unfortunately, due to the lack of funding, not only does he run the school, but he is the only teacher. The three classes are separated not by age, but by signing level. He moves between the three classes teaching their specific levels. This school deserves greater funding and Caravan to Class intends to help.
Please find enclosed pictures and a link to a video with the teacher showing how to “sign” Caravan to Class.
Executive Director, Caravan to Class