To reserve your tickets for
Mali Experience! April 20th
Malian Dinner with Ko-Falen’s Board at Queen of Sheba
Musical Concert starring Vieux Farka Toure of Mali at the Wonder Ballroom
Recent News From Mali – April 2015
Oumou Coulibaly called Tanti
Bintou–caretaker of Tanti: We are so proud to say to Penda that Tanti now has a birth paper due to her help. As you know, Tanti started classes at Ko-Falen tutoring center when Penda insisted she needed to go to school and paid for her birth paper transcript. At the time, Tanti was very young. But now she is 7 years old and in third grade! Who else can do that except Penda and Ko-Falen? For the last 3 years, Tanti has not dropped below the four best students in her class.
When I asked little Tanti, “How does that feel?” she responded, “I want to be the number one best student in my class at this next exam.”
Tanti is 7. She is an active, dedicated student at Ko-Falen’s tutoring program. She will be in 4th grade next year at the age of 8.
Tanti’s grandma said “She is so dedicated now, thanks to Penda and Ko-Falen. Even her public school teacher said that teachers at Ko-Falen tutoring are doing a great job.
Baba Wague Diakite
Student/Parent Meeting Mango Grove
March 14, 2015 Meeting of Ko-Falen’s Tutored Students: School Sponsorship
At this meeting, parents are given money for School Fees which must be paid to keep their children in Public School. Ko-Falen Head Tutor Modibo Diakite gives his report to parents on the state of the Free Tutoring Program at Ko-Falen. Parents give personal responses to the community.
Message from Head Tutor Modibo to families of tutored students:
As you already know, we have been the reason for many of you parents to understand how important school education is nowadays. So I thank you all for your many years of dedication to collaborate with Ko-Falen, so we can give something special to our children that no one can take away for the rest of their lives. It is true that Ko-Falen has been the root father of our understanding about all of this, but without our own well-coordinated cooperation, we would not have had the opportunity such as the last 10 years with Ko-Falen. Having said that, it does not mean the job is over. We need to work even harder to prevent our children falling into the 0zone of poverty, prevent them from falling off the bridge of knowledge and especially guard against new dangerous substances such as drugs and alcohol that are slowly being discovered more and more in our region. Ko-Falen is giving to the minds of our children a focused vision– so too should we. This is why this moment of gathering is more than just tuition payment for their public school, but personally thanking you for another year of collaborative work. The kids come to the tutoring center regularly and their grades are improving. Many people in the neighborhood notice the difference we have made in our students and simply walk to us to help them. We are now 30 students over our original 32 students. So we no longer have space to accommodate even one more. This place is not for babysitting, it is about our children and their well-being. If you give the end of the rope to someone it means you are holding the other end also. But you cannot drop your end and walk away leaving the other person with the burden. We welcome all parents to continue visiting in the class during the entire school year. Here in Mali there is a blessing that one can directly address to a parent “May the child be better than the father or the mother.” And the proud response is “AAAmenn.” Beyond child and parent, no one will wish anyone else to be better than oneself. So I am asking you in the end to do your part at home as parents; we will do our part as teachers and Ko-Falen will do their part as financial and moral support. For three fingers have a better grip than two.
Mariam Diarra, a parent.
I would just like to thank you and acknowledge Ko-Falen. There is no greater gift than the one of knowledge. It is knowledge that brings light to one’s life while living and still casts light for you as you pass into the night. Our children now are no longer street wanderers. Our deepest appreciation goes to Ko-Falen and their donors. However, the bee hive cannot reach the fork of the tree without a rope. For that we must also thank our 3 teachers and Baba Wague for their work. We used to pay our children’s school tuitions with our laundry soap money and our food money–all that that we earn with great misery. But now thanks to the donors of Ko-Falen and the Ko-Falen board they have been unburdening us. This is more than education; it is the well-being for our entire families. We know that the Americans have children of their own, but yet they are reaching out some 7000 miles away to help other children. This act of kindness teaches us a great deal. Well, if it is true indeed that there is something bigger than man, may they be rewarded for their kindness. May our well-educated children remember the help of the Americans in their future lives. If I have to spill out all I have in my mind, we will be here another day. Wague, I try hard to hold back my praises for you because you are one of us. But it is a son like you that makes me a proud African mother. Your mother was well known for her kindness, respect for all and indeed her philosophical fashion of speaking. You have all that in you also. If you, Wague, had forgotten where you came from, your American friends would not have met any of us. You are really good at bringing people together. You are a leader and I wish you were the president of Mali.
Introducing Dognoume Diarra, Ko-Falen’s Upper School English Tutor
Many Ko-Falen supporters may remember Dognoume Diarra. He was in 2nd grade in the village of Soni Cegni when Ko-Falen began buying books and supplies for their school twenty years ago. Meeting Americans at s young age had a lasting impression on Dognoume. Here are his words:
Upon finishing 9th grade in my village, I moved to Bamako to complete high school. I then attended 4 years of university, focusing on English and journalism. When I graduated in 2008, I was unable to find a job. But I remained courageous and continued to practice English and worked with fellow journalists to maintain a presence in the field. Now I am pleased to be hired by Ko-Falen to work as an English tutor for the Upper School students. Offering free tutoring at the Center for families that have few opportunities, is the first step to educating the entire family.
From Soni Cegni to here, no one walks the steps of Ko-Falen better than me. Ko-Falen is my role model. If I am able, I will do exactly as Ko-Falen has done—give the gift of education to the youth of this country. If you give the gift of money, it will soon vanish; but the gift of education remains with you forever. So this is what I strive to do at the Ko-Falen Tutoring Center today. I think Ko-Falen is the maker of the bone, the flesh and the blood of many children. Together we have had a major hand in forming these students. We are like the aunts, uncles, and parents—not in a hurry like some public teachers here are. We are here with them at every step, and we have planted the seed of education in them. Our students are respectful and courageous; they have the willingness to learn. This is why I love teaching here more than anything. My belief is that all of our Upper School students will pass this year.
Even as we help push our students through 9th grade and on to high school, it is not “Mission Accomplished”. Our hope is to have each student go to university. Nothing is above this idea of holding our students up until they are satisfied.
Ko-Falen’s Tutoring Program Adds an Upper School Algebra Tutor to the Equation
My name is Adjaratou known as Maama. For many years I worked in a small bank as an accountant in Nara, northeastern Mali. Five years ago, Mali entered a time of struggle that contributed to the decline of the economy of Mali. Our bank was eventually closed and I have been out of work since then. I returned to Bamako to be with my husband who is from the village of Soni Cegni. Knowing of the history of Ko-Falen Cultural Center and also being a mother, I decided to approach Modibo at the Tutoring Center to volunteer. It turned out that he needed someone with my skills. My major in University was mathematics and business and this is how I began teaching algebra to the older students at Ko-Falen who were struggling with math. As a mother, I have made friends with many of the parents and enjoy teaching. I teach algebra three days a week with the Upper School children, and am now volunteering two extra days for the sake of the younger children.
I will do my best for Ko-Falen and the children of our neighborhood.
Adjaratou called Maama
MUD CLOTH WORKSHOPS IN PORTLAND
Ko-Falen is engaged in Mudcloth Workshops throughout the Portland area. Images from daVinci Middle School Textile class workshop – 2014 – below.
In 2013, Ko-Falen Founder Baba Wague worked with the elders from Africa House—a branch of IRCO (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization) making mudcloth as an avenue of expression for African Immigrant elders learning english.
In 2014, Ko-Falen received a matching grant from RACC to
1) introduce Buckman Elementary School fifth graders to the geography, history and cultures of Mali through mudcloth. The mudcloth scarves created were personal stories by students, using mudcloth symbols to represent their character, hopes and dreams as they move into middle school. The annual Fifth Grade performance will incorporate mudcloth symbols and meanings. Each student will “receive” their finished mudcloth scarf to wear during Fifth Grade Promotion.
2) work with the textile class at daVinci Middle School to weave, dye, and then paint their mudcloth stories using natural dyes, traditional techniques and symbols. These mudcloth banners and scarves will be displayed in an exhibition at the end of the school year.
Click on “Workshops” tab above to read more.
Please click on the Updates/Mali tab above for recent very important information from Mali
End of year Raffle
Ko-Falen thanks all of you who participated in our End of Year Raffle and helped us reach our goal! Congratulations to our raffle winners Don Merkt and Missy Stewart! Baba Wague Diakite presented his hand painted platter to Don Merkt.
Read what families in Mali say about Ko-Falen’s Tutoring Program
Report from Baba Wague Diakite Dec 14, 2013
I caught up with the little girl called Tanti this morning accompanied by her great aunt on their way to a Sunday wedding of a relative. She was dressed in her best outfit.
“Tanti,” I shouted. “You look good. Where are you going?” The shy little girl dropped her head, staring at her feet below. “Can’t you answer Great Uncle Wague?” asked her Aunt Bintou. Tanti clutched tightly the rim of her skirt with her left hand, covered her mouth with her right hand and whispered “I’m going to Uncle Moussa’s wedding.” “Why are you so shy with Uncle Wague?” asked her aunt. Then Aunt Bintou turned to me and said “A personality is the other twin of a being. Even if you try to leave it behind, it will catch up with you.
The one for Tanti is definitely shyness.” After I took a quick snapshot of Tanti with my camera, they continued on their way. In reality, Tanti is not as shy as her great aunt thinks. I have often seen her playing with other kids in the neighborhood and also at Ko-Falen’s Tutoring Center. In fact, Tanti is full of energy and never stops running. Tanti–like other children in this culture–show their respect by not staring directly into the face of their elders.
Earlier I had talked to Tanti about school, as she is one of our students in our tutoring program at Ko-Falen Cultural Center. When I asked how old she was, she said she was 5 and then said she was born in 2008. This was also confirmed by her mother. “I was thinking to send Tanti back to the village to be with her grandparents. But when Batoma (Penda) gave money for her education, we had a change of heart and this is how she started at the Tutoring Center with Teacher Modibo. We take this seriously and Tanti is one of the regular students as well.”
Teacher Modibo also noted that indeed, Tanti is a regular in the class. “Though she is one of the younger students, she observes attentively what I teach to the older students. Her writing is perfect and her reading is improving.” Modibo said next year when she starts public school, she should have the experience of a second grader.
But like many kids in Mali, Tanti only has a handwritten paper from the hospital. Her parents had not yet gone to get her birth paper for lack of money. But they promised me that this is no longer the issue and that they will take care of it before school starts next year, as it is an entry requirement for school. Little Tanti said what she likes most about the tutoring program is the fact she is with all her friends and they all get the idea of what school is really about. Ultimately, her mother said, “This whole thing is not only about money. What Ko-Falen is doing does not exist anywhere in the whole of Africa. They are not only helping to raise our children, but they are building the future for a new generation. This is a role model that one of these children will certainly take and do just like you. We are blessed and we are thankful for it as well.”
Well folks, this is it, out of the horse’s mouth. Just like Tanti, many children that do not even have a birth paper started with Ko-Falen’s Tutoring Center and are now integrated into public school. We are proud to report most are in the top 10 best students in their classes. Many of our students are now in middle schools and high schools. This was only possible because of us. It is only my daughter Penda’s relationship with Tanti that highlighted her in this letter, but she is a typical example of many within the 61 students in our tutoring program.
The families send their sincere appreciation to the entire board of Ko-Falen and all the donors and wish them well in the rest of their tasks.
From Mali, Baba Wague Diakite