About 50 kilometers from Ségou, right at the Bani river, in the countryside, is where the village of Fintigila is situated. A hidden treasure not yet affected by modern times.
The nearest school is in the next village. Too far away for the children to make it over there twice a day on foot. It would simply be too tiring, not leaving any energy for studying.
Only a rare few, who have a bicycle, actually go to school, and they are the only ones in the entire village being able to read and write a bit. Illiteracy is almost 100%.
That’s about to change! A young Malian, Souleyman, owner of the mud-cloth center Soroblé in Ségou discovered Fintigila and decided to make it his goal to support this community to create a steady base for the future. A gardening project for the women, to make them financially independent as well as realizing a school to educate the children are the two pillars of his project.
The Belgian couple Mimi & Willie, came along Souleyman and decided to help him fulfill his dreams through their NGO Mali-ka-di.
Looking for some well-run locally carried projects to support from the Papillon project fund, Willie invited me to join him on a village visit last Monday. Always enjoying some time away from my computer also it didn’t take me long to give it a go.
With Souleyman and Ibrahim as our driver/guides, we left Ségou on Monday morning for the bumpy journey on sand and gravel roads with unexpected holes and numerous quagmires, luckily all of them passable.
Just before arriving at the village of Fintigila, the school is seen. A mud brick building, made by people from Burkina Faso who master this particular way of building. The school is not only nice to see, it also has two nice cool class rooms, where learning will be a pleasure.
In the near future the final work will be done. Seats and tables are already stored in the village, teaching materials have been ordered and interviews with teachers are being held.
Soon the about 80 village children from age 5 will go to school and it will be quiet at the family courtyards. Not yet, though, children are still all around and of course the visit of Willie and his company did not go unnoticed. We visited the imam on his courtyard and the village chief on his.
While the men – fishermen who do their work at different hours of the day – enjoy quiet time in the shade, the women pod the beans that have been dried at the courtyard. It’s a colorful sight, brightened up by the wonderful atmosphere in the village.
I join the women in their job, but not for long. They rather see me take a few more photos of them and their children, which I promise to bring along on a next occasion.
Too soon time came to say goodbye and hit the road once more.
Arriving in Ségou we’re all covered with a layer of red dust, tired of the bumpy journey and each in our own way fulfilled.
The shower solved the dust, a good night’s rest recovered the body and the memories of the beautiful village, its inhabitants and the journey will last long time.
Fintigila, I hope to be back some day!