The April Trek to Develop the Mali Scholarship Project

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On April 10, my wife Robbie and I, departed Little Rock for Mali. Our goals, regarding the Mali Scholarship Project, were pretty simple. 1) Meet with Adama, our Mali Scholarship Project Coordinator and accompany him in meetings with the Headmaster, staff and students of Ecole La Paix, the school Adama had recommended as the best school for our scholarship recipients. 2) Finalize details of how the Mali Scholarship Project will be administered.

We arrived in Bamako, Mali on the early morning of April 12, following a 24-hour stopover in Casablanca, Morocco. Adama met us at the Bamako airport and arranged transport to our hotel, The Tamana Hotel. Later that day, Adama accompanied us to Ecole La Paix. The school is located on the edge of our old neighborhood, Badalabougou. When we arrived we noticed that all the children were dressed in light blue uniforms. They appeared very happy and welcomed us with smiles and outstretched arms. The school compound was very clean, the buildings placed in the shape of a rectangle, open on one end. The classrooms are large, but not air conditioned. Normal for Malian schools. The temperature outside was over 96 degrees. The only source of water is a hydrant in the center of the courtyard.

Our meetings with the Headmaster, Mr. Innocent Dakouo, and all teachers went very well. Ecole La Paix is a Catholic school, one of seven in the city of over one million citizens, and the only one on the south side of the Niger River. Ecole La Paix was founded in 1996 with 300 students and now has 550, in grades one through nine. I am not sure about the actual numbers, but, it appeared there was an equal number of girls and boys.

Prior to our arrival, the Headmaster accepted our offer to conduct a vision screening clinic for all the staff and for any students with suspected near vision problems. On April 12 and 13 we screened a total of 92 persons. For most of these persons it was their first physical exam, since we assessed height, weight, blood pressure and blood sugar, as well as vision. I am glad to say that all were in excellent health. We did distribute 45 eye glasses.

I was surprised by a gift from Adama. On the evening of our departure he presented us with a notebook containing the pictures of all scholarship nominees, including a brief biography of each child. Back at home, it has been very helpful to have photograghs of the children when discussing the Mali Scholarship Project with potential sponsors.

I am pleased to confirm that the cost of one scholarship remains at $475. This cost will also include the provision of one meal per day, lunch. This provision of a meal is very important since adequate nutrition for these children is necessary for good academic performance and overall health. If you are considering sponsoring a scholarship it will be necessary to provide your donation not later than August 15, 2010. If you have questions, please call me at 501-743-5963 or e-mail me at

A special addition to our Bamako itinerary was the opportunity to visit with the Chief of Badalabougou. Badalabougou was a village prior to being incorporated into Bamako. The position of village chief still exists and he works alongside the mayor who is an elected official. The Chief voiced his thanks and his full support for the Mali Scholarship Project. At the conclusion of the meeting he requested that Robbie and I serve as members of his council. That was certainly an honor for us and I imagine Robbie is the only female council member.

I invite you to join us on this exciting journey to change the lives of children trapped in a cycle of poverty. Remember, you are only one, but you are one. You cannot do everything, but you can do something.

Larry Boyd Nutt
Founder and Fellow Trekker

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