By Scott Lacy.
Since our first days as an organization and the completion of Dissan Primary School (our first school construction), we’ve been pleased to see that more students from Dissan were continuing on to 7th grade. Dissan elders were also pleased that more of their grandchildren were going to school, but they had one concern. During annual meetings with African Sky leaders, elders shared that sending their children to the 7th grade requires sending young students dozens and sometimes hundreds of kilometers away from home. African Sky and the people of Dissan decided to change that.
Our lead designer Drew Jacoby praised the work of our construction team in Soumabougou, and then he used their feedback to develop an entirely new school design to build a secondary school in Dissan. This new school opened its doors this year, and it will provide students from Dissan and its neighboring villages to complete a ninth grade education without having to leave the place they call home. Dissan communitiy members are helping African Sky fund salaries for the secondary school teachers until we build a secondary school population large enough to warrant assistance from regional education authorities.
The Dissan Secondary School is the third school we’ve opened in Mali, and it was made possible by an amazing young philanthropist and community leader in Nova Scotia. As African Sky was still working on our second school in Soumabougou, a middle school student from Halifax, Nova Scotia contacted us to ask about raising money to sponsor our third school with family and friends. This amazing young woman, Rita-Clare LeBlanc, was inspired by a gift of $72.12 from her uncle. The gift had one string attached… she had to use it to benefit someone else. So, Rita-Clare created a group called Maritime Youth Standing Together (MYST), and she did exactly that. Together they hosted talent shows, spaghetti dinners, and other lively events to successfully raise the lion’s share of the Dissan Secondary School construction budget. Several years have passed since her initial phone call to African Sky, and Rita-Clare has since graduated from High School, and today, African Sky is proud to announce that the school Rita-Clare and MYST helped build is officially open.