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Meet Drissa, a local farmer

Education is a path out of poverty, but as Drissa Diarra knows, poverty itself is often the biggest barrier to that opportunity.

Drissa is a local farmer in Barouéli and, like most in the community, he never completed elementary school. Today he struggles to get by on subsistence farming, without the skills and knowledge needed to improve his family's livelihood.

When there is no money for health care and food, or even books and uniforms, children who are old enough to work often lose out on school. The top priority for Barouéli is to stop this cycle of poverty by ensuring that all children have the chance to complete their education.

Says Drissa: "By working with Plan, we're learning that it is important for all of our children – both boys and girls – to get an education. It is the only way to end poverty. If I was literate enough, I would be able to get more from my fields than I do now."

Over the last three months we've held community meetings and mobilized support for the community's plan to build new schools, train and hire teachers, and remove barriers so that all local children have a chance to go to school. This open process has fostered trust and confidence in the community.

"During the first community meeting," recalls Drissa, "Plan staff explained that we would partner with our friends from Canada to carry out education projects. In the beginning I was sceptical because we have seen many people coming to collect data and promising things but never show up again. Then, Plan came for the second meeting and we discussed preschool and primary education. Now I am confident Plan can help our community move forward."

With plans for a new kindergarten under way, Drissa looks forward to sending his daughter there.

"I will certainly send my daughter Oumou there," he says, "because I know it is good for her future."

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