Tostan’s National Coordinator in Mali, his assistant, and I, the Tostan volunteer based in Bamako, Mali, visited the region of Koulikoro, some 60 kilometers from Bamako. The goal of our mission was to assist in the intervillage meetings, or RIVs, which bring together the rural communities of Dienandougou and Méguétan in the area of Koulikoro, a region in which Tostan has implemented the Community Empowerment Program (CEP).

Once in Koulikoro, we arrived at the Niger River and continued our journey across to Kénandou, the main village of Dienandougou, where the welcome we received from the community was truly remarkable. In the presence of the Mayor, health workers, and representatives from the Office of Radio and Television in Mali, CEP participants came in droves, excited by the news that the CEP would soon begin again.

We were also welcomed by the Mayor himself. Village representatives and many CEP coordinators responded to the call for a meeting, demonstrating the strength of the communities’ commitment to the Tostan program.

The object of the meeting was to share with the villages the essential points of the remainder of Tostan’s 30-month education program, which is based on a respect for human rights. The audience enthusiastically welcomed the news that facilitators ─ individuals from the region trained by Tostan to lead CEP classes ─ would soon be back to begin the second phase of the program: the Kobi 2. This module of the Tostan program, which deals primarily with the subjects of health and hygiene, follows the Kobi 1, a module focused on democracy and human rights.

Having paused for the rainy season, everyone gathered affirmed that they were eager to begin the next phase of the Tostan program in order to gain more knowledge and skills. The community empowerment movement continues.

Story by Claire Constant, Tostan Volunteer in Bamako, Mali. Photos by Claire Constant