The pandemic has certainly affected many parts of the world but fortunately Mali has been able to contain the spread of the virus. This is certainly good news considering that there so much poverty in that country. A COVID epidemic on top of all the other hardships faced by Malians would have been catastrophic.
We are pleased to report that the tutoring program is still going strong. As stated in our previous update, the new, revamp program is an interactive audio consisting of 360 radio segments. It is a 3-year program, with 120 segments per year. The teaching of reading and writing is done through songs and visual aids. It is an engaging program and the children are making good progress in their learning of French. Since it is the language taught in schools, it is really helping the members of our dance troupe be more successful with their studies and self-confidence.
The children spend a lot of time at the Togola Cultural Centre where several weekly sessions of rehearsing and tutoring take place. It is almost a second home for them. The two programs blend very well together as singing and storytelling are important elements in the Malian performing arts tradition.
The teachers have expanded their last production, one that focused on the need to end ‘les mariages précoces’ – early marriages. They have added other aspects such as the right of children to an education and the need to put an end to female genital mutilation. Not only is there an artistic focus but there is also a strong social justice component based on the rights of the children. The latest show blends drumming, storytelling, singing and dancing.
The content resonates with many young Malians who aspire to a better life. Since the initial show at the Togola Centre, the troupe has been twice invited by the Minister of Women, Children and Family to perform, which is wonderful news!