Posted by: kristinej | January 31, 2010

January 31st

It has been a very busy couple of weeks for Project Muso.  Last Tuesday our education classes finally launched, after more than 6 months of preparation.  There wasn’t one big ceremony, but each center had their first class at different times throughout the week, so I tried to be at as many as possible.  While normally the classes will be split into two groups – adults and adolescents – for the first session everyone was combined so that there were over 50 people at most of the openings.  The facilitators started their sessions by asking the men and women to sit interspersed, and then explained that we’d be sitting in a circle rather than rows because the classes are supposed to be a discussion, not just a teacher talking to the students.  The main goal of the first session was to introduce the program and to talk about the participant’s goals and expectations.  As a group they chose a “dugutigi” – class president, if you will – and other “officers” for the class.

It was clear that some of the facilitatrices were nervous, but most of them did a great job.  It’s amazing to think that just a few years ago they couldn’t even read and write and now they have completed Project Muso’s education program, have been trained as facilitators, and are now teaching their own class for 12 hours a week.  They are all so excited about it, though, and it’s fun to see them all talking to each other about their classes and even showing up at other women’s classes to support them.

Thursday was a particularly important day as the founder and director of Tostan, who we’re partnering with for this new education program, was in Mali visiting from Senegal and came to visit one of our classes.  She first came to visit our new office, and then we all piled in USAID trucks and drove to Yirimadjo, where we went to a center that I had never been to before.  I was actually really surprised because it was way on one side of Yirimadjo and had a much more rural feeling than where I live.  The participants were there waiting for us and as we got out the vehicle they started singing and dancing, welcoming Tostan.  We observed the rest of the session which was really great.  The facilitator was so good at getting everyone engaged, and they talked about what community means and the different communities that they are a part of.  At the end of the session some participants came up to do a sort of free style poetry reading and singing, the director of Tostan spoke a little bit, and then it ended with more dancing and singing.

The other big event of the week occurred last Saturday, when tap water arrived in Yirimadjo.  In 2007-08, our Community Action Committee had petitioned to the government to have tap water faucets installed in Yirimadjo, since people either got their water from wells, a few pumps around the community, or they had to pay for tap water to be brought in from neighboring communities.  They succeeded in getting faucets installed all over Yirimadjo, but up until Saturday, there hadn’t actually been any water in them.  Now people can go fill up their buckets and water containers with potable water, and it’s much cheaper than having it brought from other communities.

Tomorrow morning Becky and I are heading to Dogon country, which is Mali’s most famous tourist attraction.  We will spend Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday hiking between the villages along the cliffs there with a guide and then will head to the Segou music festival for the weekend.



  1. Kris, Great stuff. Fill us in on the music fest when you can. Robby

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