Mali School Project for Peace: A Global Mission Project – Tolerance . . . Peace . . . Justice . . . Hope
In 2009 our church took the lead within the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ to organize, fund and manage the construction of a school in Mali, West Africa. The school was to be built in Tongo, a remote area of the country where the literacy rate is as low as 18%.
After forming a construction plan with the We Are Family Foundation and BuildOn (formerly Building with Books), the project became known as “The Mali School Project for Peace.”
Tongo is a small village located in the southeast region of Segou in Mali, West Africa. The population of Tongo is less than a thousand inhabitants made up primarily of the Bambara ethnic group. Most families survive on a small income from the subsistence farming of millet, corn, and peanuts. They also breed livestock including sheep, goats, and chickens, which are sold at the local market. There is no electricity or running water in the village. Several deep wells provide the only source of water, and many of these wells go dry during the lengthy hot season.
Our congregation raised $12,500 toward the $30,000 needed to fund the school. Another $12,500 was donated by seven other UCC church organizations:
ENCA, UCC Burlington, NC
Peace UCC, Greensboro, NC
Mt. Auburn UCC, Manson, NC
Pilgrim UCC, Durham, NC
First Reformed UCC, Burlington, NC
St. Johns UCC, Burlington, NC
Chapel in the Pines, Seven Lakes, NC
The remaining $5,000 was raised through Peace Corps volunteers who had served in Mali and from partnering with local FairTrade organizations. Like Habitat for Humanity in the U.S., Tongo villagers entered into a covenant with BuildOn and participated in construction of their school.
In January 2011, we celebrated the opening of the new elementary school, which houses six classrooms and facility to capture rain runoff used to water crops. As of October 2018, over 200 students attend school in Tongo, from the first grade to the fourth grade.