AUGUST 20, 2020

Dear friends,

I hope you are well during these challenging times.

When I first traveled in Mali in 2010, after having been to a good number of other African countries, I quickly fell in love with the country. I am not sure exactly what it was, but perhaps a combination of Mali's history, the allure of the desert in the northeast, the numerous cultures, the music, and most of all the engaging nature of the people that warm your heart everywhere you go.

Since then, Mali has seen its disproportionate share of problems and serious challenges which continue to plague the country. Thankfully, none of these challenges has prevented Caravan to Class from realizing our important work in education in one of Africa’s most historically important places, Timbuktu, Mali.

AUGUST 20, 2020

Recently, I sent a text to our “Bourse Jackie” Scholarship recipients (who receive university scholarships from Caravan to Class), to ask about their thoughts on Black Lives Matter. I was interested in their answers. While their skin is clearly black in color and they have faced difficult obstacles in their lives in one of the world’s poorest countries, they have likely never experienced the overt white vs black racism that many African-Americans have experienced. I thought about telling them they could text me in their native French language. But given the resources spent by Caravan to Class towards their English language education, I thought it would be interesting to ask them to write me in English…which they were happy to do. These are incredibly impressive young women as their words convey.

MALI – FEBRUARY 17, 2020

Greetings from Mali!

It is hard to believe that I am starting my second decade of annual trips to Mali. Every year as I take my first steps onto the streets of this big West African capital, Bamako, it is easy to first notice the chaos, dirt, and poverty. Your senses are bombarded by this as anyone who has been in a West Africa capital knows. This is also supported by the data from the UN Human Development Index, which shows that eight of the fifteen countries at the bottom of this index are from West Africa (including Mali at 5th from the bottom), and another four from neighboring Central Africa. However, on this trip, as on others, by my second day it was easy to see through the first layer and get a strong glimpse of the resilience, friendliness, industriousness and hope.

JANUARY 10, 2020

Dear friends,

As Caravan to Class starts our 2nd decade of investing in literacy through our work in education in one of the world’s most interesting yet underserved places, (Timbuktu, Mali), I reiterate my gratitude to you for joining me on this important journey! With your support, over the years, we have been able to provide the opportunity for thousands of children to attend French-based schools through our main “school construction and support program.” More recently we have added a Female Adult Literacy program for mothers in the villages where we work, to teach basic literacy in the local language. Last year, we launched our “Bourse Jackie” program that very selectively provides scholarships to female high school graduates, from Timbuktu, to attend university in Mali's capital of Bamako. I personally met with these incredibly bright young women in Mali in February 2019. I was so impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication of three of these women towards learning English, that Caravan to Class funded an intensive English language course for them this summer in Accra, Ghana. Caravan to Class is currently working on our 14th school construction project, in the village of Bokoi-Koiria near Timbuktu.

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Read the interview with CTC founder Barry Hoffner,  catch up with progress on literacy programs and Caravan-to-Class press releases.

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Video of our work

Caravan to Class video

Drone footage of the Kokonji school newly-built by Caravan to Class in Mali