Socourani Women’s Literacy Center
Project Launch:The Socourani Women's Association (SWA) is located in,a small farming village in the Koulikoro region of Mali. The key role of the group is to discuss village issues and concerns and to manage a savings fund for investments and emergencies. None of the women in the history of the village had ever been literate, so one man from the village would always attend their meetings. These women, highly motivated and committed to improving their community, sought to erase the shame that they felt from their illiteracy by partnering with World Connect to construct a Women's Literacy Center. The center provides shelter from the rain and sun where SWA members, including 50 women and girls, can learn to read and write. In preparation for the opening of the center, local literacy teachers engaged in three separate teacher trainings to ensure they were thoroughly prepared to be effective educators. The first training was small and intimate, held within the village of Socourani and was focused on preparing the new teachers with the basics of becoming a literacy teacher. The second training was held at an Institut Pour l'Education Populaire's (IEP) training facility located in Kati, Mali. This was a larger-scale teacher training camp hosting literacy teachers from all over the country. The final training was conducted back in the village of Socourani and permitted the teachers to apply everything they had learned in the first two trainings. In addition to the new literacy teachers benefitting from training, there were also new skills acquired in the construction of the Women's Literacy Center. Being that this was the first concrete building to be constructed in the village of Socourani, the villagers had no experience in such construction techniques. Many men and boys of Socourani learned how to mix concrete, cast cinder-blocks, tie reinforcement bars, pour columns and beams, and much more. Upon completion, some of the young men expressed an interest in looking for work in the construction business based on thier experience. While many new skills were acquired in the execution of this project, the Peace Corps Volunteer who oversaw its implementation acknowledged that the majority of individuals to benefit from this project have yet to come: "it is the continuing education of the literacy students that will prove to build the most capacity, and prepare the next generations to do the same. The community members will be able to apply their new skills immediately in everyday life. When people are educated, improvements are naturally made within the home and family. At the most basic level, these improvements are made in health, sanitation, family planning, as well as the management of food and finances. Having the ability to read labels on medicine bottles, write down/dial phone numbers, write notes, make lists, and keep track of money earned or lost on market day, it is this basic literacy education that is crucial to improving the livelihoods of women and their families." The Socourani Women's group now actively manages the Women's Literacy Center.
Testimonials"It was incredible to see everyone come together to make this happen. I am both overwhelmed and encouraged by the sense of community and motivation the villagers of Socourani demonstrated, and what can be made possible as a result." - Owen, Peace Corps Volunteer, Socourani, Mali, 2010-2011 "I have never seen the women of Socourani be so hopeful. Becoming literate members of our community means changing the lives of everyone, which was incomprehensible before now." - Fatima Diakite, Project Leader, Socourani, Mali "I am aware that our country, Mali, is the most illiterate nation in the world. But with the help of people like Owen and the people at World Connect, I often thank God for the incredible love they have shown us, that they have enabled us to take action to tackle our nation's shortcoming." - Kalidou Sidibe, Project Participant, Socourani, Mali
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