Oumou Kansaye walked a long road to becoming a literacy instructor for The Tandana Foundation in Mali. She left school after seventh grade and went to the capital of Bamako to work as a maid. A few years later she returned home to her small village of Kani-Gogouna and married. She is the proud mother of three boys and five girls. While she learned French at school, she says, ”I decided to take the literacy course to read and write in Tommo So and to do calculations without difficulty and to better manage our Savings for Change group fund and to be able to take notes on the dates of our different meetings.” In 2015 Oumou was enrolled in Tandana’s program to become a literacy instructor, but she had to drop out when her husband became ill and died.
After the death of her husband, Oumou supported herself and her children by reselling items purchased from larger towns and with a small stipend as a village health promoter. Sometimes her brothers-in-law were able to share grain with her family to help as well. Despite having to drop out of the initial training, Oumou maintained her contact with Tandana and in 2017 was able to complete her training as a literacy instructor. With her new job, Oumou can easily support her family.
Of her decision to become a literacy instructor Oumou says, “I felt very happy and free to share my knowledge with other women who hadn’t yet benefited from these trainings. I also decided to become an instructor because the classes are in our own language, Tommo So.” Oumou likes the mutual respect the literacy courses create among women of her culture and also between different religious groups. She is excited by “the collaboration between women and instructors to exchange ideas and knowledge, [and] the discovery of new villages and townships.”
Oumou is an outstanding leader in her community. In addition to her work as a literacy instructor, she serves as a township councilwoman for Wadouba Township, president of the Women of Wadouba, a member of the township organization commission, and president of a political party known as UM-RDA (Malian Union for the African Democratic Rally). Oumou says, “I am delighted to work for women’s advancement alongside The Tandana Foundation.”
We are delighted to be able to support the efforts of Oumou and the other literacy instructors working in Mali with The Tandana Foundation. The $15,000 we are committed to raising for the Tandana Foundation goes directly toward creating more opportunities for the women of Mali to learn to read and write, support their families, and flourish in their communities.