The Baobab Learning Center (BLC) began in 2016 as a 501(c)(3) charity in the USA, with programs in Mali, Africa. Our programs for the empowerment of children, women, young adults, and communities are supported by generous donations from people like you.
A Brighter Future for Children
Children in rural areas of the world’s poorest countries like Mali often have little access to education. BLC houses 30 children and provides meals, clothing, and tutoring to 35 others to ensure their success in school and to prepare them to contribute to their communities as good citizens of their country, and good stewards of the land and the water around them.
BLC has two shea butter processing facilities where over 100 women learned to process nuts they gather into shea butter to sell in a co-op. We teach women in the village skills that include cooking, childcare, hygiene, entrepreneurship, and management.
Empowering Young Adults
After the Malian army repelled terrorist attacks near our center, vulnerable young adults were invited to hear presentations by educators, health practitioners, and more. The youth then chose one of eight program areas to receive vocational training and internships. Without jobs, young adults are subject to predatory recruitment by ISIS terrorists.
Thank you for your Donations
This video was created to share the 2016 start up and mission of the Baobab Learning Center (BLC). It features the founder, Mariama Thera and BLC supporter Margie Morris describing activities of BLC.
Starting with 13 children, now 65 children, over 100 women, about 200 young adults and whole village communities are benefiting from from your contributions to BLC's work in South Eastern Mali.
News from the Center
After a challenging year that you, our generous donors, helped us through, we are happy and relieved to report the rainy season has finally come and with it the hope that crops will be more abundant than last year. The trade embargo has been lifted after the scheduling of elections and we are preparing to ship over a ton of high quality shea butter made at our facilities by the 105 women in our cooperative.
Our Center's 11 candidates for the hard national 9th grade exam have all passed and can enroll in high school on the way to university or other professional training.
Currently ,the children at BLC are on school break and the families are focused on agriculture. We look forward to a new school year ramping up again soon!
Agro-Pastoral Project: We received a local donation of 5 acres of land which local volunteers have cleaned and readied for our to train young adults in food production and land stewardship. We are raising funds for wells, equipment, fencing, and seeds to being this project.
A Weekly Radio Program: BLC started a weekly radio show with engaging programs that shares practical ways to protect the environment and improve agricultural sustainability. Each program begins with a presentation about one species of tree in the area and provides useful information on the nutritional or health benefits of that tree and other topics of value to families in towns and villages. The program is changing behavior in the community and a noticeable decline in cutting of trees. One listener told our staff that previously the only reason he knew to refrain from cutting down a tree was the risk of a fine. Now he knows why we should nurture trees and even plant more of them! We expected our audience would be Tominian and the surrounding 30 villages but were delighted to learn that in a village 200 kilometers away, women are gathering around a single radio each week to listen to the program.
Our Annual Women’s Conference: BLC hosted our women’s annual conference and all 105 women in our cooperative participated, with other invitees. The focus was on experiences in entrepreneurship and microfinance, and discussing how to build a peaceful environment in the midst of insecurity. All speakers were local women — including the city mayor, a school principal, and the president of a women’s church group! The theme was Women’s Role in Society and Politics.
Women's Shea Butter Coop: Sadly, as a result of drought, shea trees did not yield nuts this year. BLC led women in our coop to use their entrepreneurial training and microfinance, to adapt to the drought by combining resources to buy wholesale goods to sell in village markets. They earned enough to support their families.
U.S. – Mali Student Exchange: BLC students are participating in a virtual and letter-writing exchange program with students in the French Department of a New York high school. The exchanges of letters in French from Mali and in English from the U.S. helped the children in both countries expand their language skills as they looked up words and got translation help from their teachers. An unexpected benefit was the fund raising the school undertook to support the Center.
BLC Meeting on Community Security: Security is a key issue of concern in the part of Mali where BLC works. To help address these concerns, BLC sponsored a robust meeting on community security with officials and community leaders of all religions. A team then traveled to eight villages to share the information in the rural communities. We have seen positive results.
Youth Empowerment: Over the last six months we have held a weekly educational meeting to empower the youth on several topics including taking responsibility for their own futures and the well-being of their communities. The average attendance has been 45 young adults each week!
Our Thanks to You: Thank you for being part of the circle of people who make this impactful work possible! Monthly donations of any amount keep food on the table for 65 students, support the women’s coop, and provide the seed money for our new programs for young adults who are transforming the community. One-time donations also help us to cover these costs and any unanticipated expenses. Or you can mail a check to Baobab Learning Center, P.O Box 13112, Arlington VA. 22219.