My name is Dramane Diabate; I live in Kuwait in the Middle East. I am from Soumaya, which is one of the Ouelessebougou Alliance’s partner villages in Mali. Soumaya is based on agriculture in the rainy season and gardening in the dry season. People in our village is so poor but we are happy and generous.
My father was a farmer and my mother was a housemaker in Soumaya. My father passed away in 2004 and then my mother in 2009. They have four living children: three boys and one girl. I am the first person to get a formal education due to the Ouelessebougou Alliance’s incredible support and vision. I am also the youngest among my siblings.
The Ouelessebougou Alliance built the school in Soumaya between 1994 and 1995 and I am one of their first students. I started my school with the Bamanankan literacy program for three years. The Alliance generously gave us the school supplies for free. That was wonderful because most of our parents could not purchase school supplies for their kids. Later, I moved to Ouroun to start my formal education.
THE POWER OF THE ALLIANCE’ S SUPPORT AND EDUCATION SYSTEM
When I started school in Ouroun, the principal was so good and loved students, particularly the brilliants ones. “I skipped the first grade because of my school performances in writing, reading, and math. A few months later, The principal asked me to go to the third grade instead of the second grade,” said Dramane. I skipped these two grades due to the Ouelessebougou Alliance’s quality of education and great teachers in my village. Honestly, the formal education was very easy for me because of the Alliance’s Bamanankan program. The literacy program was so helpful and good. “All my classmates from Soumaya who went to Ouroun were first or the second of their classes. We were great students who never skipped classes or missed doing home works. Because of our reputation, we were famous in the Ouroun schools,” said Diabate.
The Alliance’s staff was always in our village to encourage us to study very hard and sensitize parents to send their children to school. “Frankly, our parents did not know the values of western education, but the Alliance did not stop encouraging and motivating them to send us to schools,” according to Dramane. I am so glad I got a chance to go to school. I thank Utah Alliance.
Upon passing the ninth grade exam (the DEF), I moved to Bamako for my high school at Lycee Mabile of Sogoniko, Bamako. I studied Languages and Literature. The government sent me to the literature and languages session based on the classes that I got the highest grades. I really liked learning languages and the African and French literature.
In 2008, I passed the twelve grade exam (the Baccalaureate) at the Lycee Mabile and the following school year I started the University of Bamako. I studied English for three years before I began working with an organization called COFESCA, which was focused on building public bathrooms and providing running water to Malian. My education has helped me to work for this organization has a manager. I was able to buy plots, feed my family, and save some money.
SPEAKING ENGLISH HAS SAVED MY LIFE IN KUWAIT.
I thought that I could go to Kuwait and played soccer, but it was not the case when I arrived there. “I struggled a lot in Kuwait and I did not know what to do when my boss took my passport and cell phone and put me in a dark room. I was so exhausted, hungry, thirsty, and weak for almost two days. I finally decided to force the door and went out. Since I did not speak and understand Arabic, my boss thought that I could not go out and speak to someone. I spoke English to a man on the street and he encouraged me to run away and forgot about my stuffs in my boss room. He showed me a place where I could find some Africans. That was a smart decision because I did not know what would happen to me. I am pretty sure my English language skill has saved my life in Kuwait and got another job, ” stated Dramane.
THE IMPACT OF THE OUELESSEBOUGOU ON PEOPLE OF SOUMAYA
“The words cannot express on how the people of Soumaya are grateful for the Ouelessebougou Alliance long term support. I cannot talk enough what the Alliance has done in Soumaya.” Diabate said and continues “First, the Alliance has increased the numbers of educated people in my village. When “Utah Alliance” started its education program in Soumaya, there were only two people in our entire village who could read and write a letter. If these people were out of town, villagers had to wait for them or go to other villages to get someone who could read and write their letters. Because of the Alliance so many people can read and write in our village. These two people who could read and write in our entire village knew the small and big secrets in each family. They could use that power of information to dominate our village; fortunately, they were not these kinds of people. They were trustworthy and humble. The Alliance has transformed our villages in a better way.”
Education is an excellent sustainable program that can truly transformed villages and people like in Soumaya and Dramane Diabate. Please, let’s continue support the Ouelessebougou Alliance’s sustainable programs in Mali.