The importance of details, and well-rooted ones, at that
by Jinny St. Goar, Mali Nyeta
Our small organization is focused largely on one locality in southwestern Mali in the villages of Djangoula that are found within the commune of Benkadi Founiya just south of the regional administrative center, Kita. Roughly five kilometers from the dirt road that ends in the county seat of Founiya, these villages were simply too remote for their youngest children to benefit from the early years of education.
Ed Gragert recently addressed the importance of a child's first 1000 days and in the remote villages of Djangoula, few of the children who were 10 years-old or older were getting to school. Even if a child could manage the daily commute, the handicap of having missed entirely grades k-5 proved unmanageable for all but the most determined and diligent.
The villagers asked for help in building their school, and then went ahead and built 3 classrooms, before Mali Nyeta's team returned. The now 6-classroom school completed the second full academic year in June. This past year's enrollment of 147 students is apt to grow this year. The community is responding with substantial enthusiasm.
And the details. In the spirit of Ed's concern for a child's first 1000 days
-- that critical preparatory time for any course of education later in life -- a team of six Malian researchers surveyed the two villages. They sought to help understand the demographic profile and the public health standards. In the summer of 2012, they conducted two rounds of this survey, refining their questions for round #2.
The rate of infant mortality nation-wide in Mali is the second highest in the world. Approximately one baby out of ten doesn't make it to his or her first birthday.
But in the villages of Djangoula, the rate of infant mortality is about three times as high as that national average. This means that one baby out of every three who are born there does not even reach the milestone of 644 days.
A significant challenge, then, to talk about education without addressing these dire indicators of public health.
The roof has just been raised on the health center that Mali Nyeta began to build in the commune of Benkadi Founiya in January of this year. The construction has opened the floodgates of the community's energy and enthusiasm.
We couldn't have done this without the details from the survey of a community. We couldn't have done this without our strongly-rooted partnership with the community for all these efforts.
The following is a link to a brief video about the health center: