Every day as we are out and about, we see children in the streets asking for money. They are at our windows in every traffic jam and on most corners where traffic slows. They are single or in groups. They usually carry small buckets or large tomato paste cans. It’s said that there are more than 6,000 street children in Bamako. Most of these kids care for themselves. Some attend Koranic schools for a few hours, then they are sent out to beg, returning what they earn to the teachers and school administrators. They live without health care or parental supervision.
Some say that the beliefs of Islam encourage children beggars because one of the tenents of the faith is to give alms, so there needs to be someone to receive these offerings. These are children who need educations and health care and hope for their futures.
This evening we went with Pres and Sister Binene to visit Nourou, the 2nd Counselor in our Bamako Branch Presidency. His beautiful wife had a baby girl 2 weeks ago on Nourou’s birthday. We had a lovely visit on this balmy evening. Nourou has 2 beautiful girls now–we are so happy for him!
This week we got to visit with Lynn Curtis as he came into town, and then several days later before he departed. He’s the Executive Director and founder of Broadweave Solutions, a company that fosters business enterprise in underdeveloped locations and the linguistics skills required to go along with business success.
Lynn went with our friend Anounou to Ouelessebougou for the week where he met with and trained about 20 men and women interested in improving their business skills through literacy training. He has programs for both French and Bambara, and we were really excited to visit with him about that as we consider ways we can teach literacy here.
This evening we heard all about his excellent week in Ouelessebougou and he brought some materials to us to try here with our friends and members of the Church who want to improve their literacy. This is going to be fun!
Today between our meetings we passed by Sekou’s medical school, the University of Kankou Moussa in Bamako. Sekou is a second year medical student here and he loves it. He was excited to show us around the campus.
This is the administration and faulty building:
This is the classroom wing where Sekou’s class is.
This is Sekou’s class room. He said he’ll spend 4 years in this room. The professors rotate in and out of the rooms, so the students stay in the same place. There are 30 second-year students in Sekou’s class.
Their weekly schedules and exam schedules are posted outside the classroom:
The center of the campus has basketball standards and a place to play some soccer.
What a wonderful blessing it is to have someone like Sekou in medical school here. He has such a good heart and he loves the thought of ministering to people as a profession. We wish him well. It’s a long grueling path to become a doctor, but Sekou is well on his way!
Today one of our good members, Josue Togo, took us to visit a girls’ orphanage here in Bamako. Stepping into this place was like stepping into an Oasis! After winding our way through many dirty crooked streets, we pulled up to this compound and Josue invited us in. What we found was delightful.
This is one of many orphanages here in Bamako. Josue works with many NGOs to help find funding for this and other humanitarian endeavors. These orphanages survive because of generous donations from individuals and organizations who notice and care.
This orphanage has 60 beautiful young women. Many have been the victims of abuse. This is their safe haven. The courtyard of the compound is filled with beautiful gardens the girls look after.
Mariam Dembele Togo is the director of this beautiful orphanage. She is lovely.
The girls sleep 4 to a room in bunks with mosquito nets. They each have a desk and a chair and a locker for their clothes.
Malian drinking fountains!
It was lunch time and the girls were busy eating.
This is the kitchen and the helpers who help prepare the meals for the girls:
These are the bathrooms:
Here’s where the girls fill their buckets for bathing in the bathrooms:
Laundry drying. There was way more on the ground than on the clotheslines.
Our purpose for meeting with Josue and visiting the orphanage today was to learn more about humanitarian opportunities we might want to become involved with. We are here to love and serve in any way we can. Josue had lots of good ideas and he is well connected in this community. We are grateful to have good members like Josue.
Francois is one of our early members of the church here in Bamako. He traveled to Accra to be baptized in 2016 after learning about the gospel from friends here in Bamako. He’s a favorite translator for the expeditions who come to Mali, being fluent in Bambara, French and English.
Francois Director of the Mady Sissoko English Academy in Bamako. This school started last fall semester with a group of high school and college-aged students. Many of them are basketball players at local high schools who have been involved with groups that have come to Mali to promote their sport. Mady Sissoko is a Malian high school player who went to Utah to play high school basketball. He’s in his senior year now at Wasatch Academy. Mady has been recruited to play for Michigan State.
Before and after school, students who want to learn to speak English come to this school where Francois helps them learn from an online curriculum. They do their work on individual laptops and have classroom discussions to practice conversation skills.
Students were just starting to arrive as we were leaving. They were happy for this chance to learn a valuable new skill.
Good things are happening here in Bamako. We have good members around us doing good things. Francois is fantastic.
Anounou is our Malian brother. We’ve worked together for a long time. He’s been to our Utah home, but today we got to visit his Malian home place and meet some of his family. Anounou’s father had 4 wives and 22 children. They are a close-knit family and they love and help each other.
Today Anounou took us to see where he grew up as a boy, here in the old part of Bamako. We met 2 of his brothers and 2 of his brother’s wives. They also felt like family to us. There was a peaceful feeling here in their 2 compounds. Friendships deepen when you get to visit the home places of those you love.
Anounou’s neighbor came out to meet us. Look at her beautiful henna hands!