Original article from The Stow Sentry (staff writer, 10 April 2016).

The International Business Academy Career Program received a visit March 1 from a special guest who was born and raised in Mali, Africa.

Mr. Hamidou Dicko, who currently is employed at GoJo Industries, heard about Stow-Munroe Falls High School building a “Stow School” in Mali, Africa, from a co-worker who came to the high school for a wrestling tournament and noticed the school’s Mali, Africa, signs. He then went back to GoJo and told Hamidou about “Mali” being promoted at the high school. They got on the internet and found that the career program has been fundraising to build a school in Mali with African Sky. He reached out to African Sky and the relationship in now cemented in friendship and love.

Hamidou spoke to the students about growing up in Mali. He has a large family and the major reason for this is to help with the farming to put food on the table. Those that are able to attend school, continue their education only because of excellent grades and put their skills to work so to break the poverty cycle. Half of Malian children have never attended school. He talked about the hardest part about growing up was walking two to three miles to school every day. Walking to school is never safe, but having an education was not a choice/it was a must. Hamidou has a large family with many of them living around the globe aspiring in their careers. (Both parents are educated so his family had the solid foundation of a good education.)

Back in Mali when the family sits down to eat, the family uses one large plate and everyone shares their food. Malians enjoy lamb, beef, and eat a lot of rice. Hamidou’s favorite American food is steak and the biggest difference between here and Mali (even Europe) is that America has so many trees. What Hamidou misses the most from being away from Mali (other than his large family), is the Malian culture and the arts. He also enlightened the students that the first African University started in Mali and the country is rich with the mineral, gold. He also stressed that race is not an issue in Mali like it is in America.

Hamidou moved to the United States settling in Atlanta in 2002. He told the students that education is a life-long investment and how grateful he is for our “Stow School”. “The effect this “Stow School” will have on the lives of the Malians will allow them to break the cycle of poverty and in return have an opportunity for prosperity and success not just for them but also for the country of Mali,” exclaimed, Hamidou. For more information visit Africansky.org (a social profit for charity).