Walanta. (summarized version)
Welcome to the website of Walanta.
Walanta comes from the Bambara, a language spoken in Mali, and it means "Back to School".
We want teens and young adults, with little or no schooling, to go back to school and learn a trade. Vocational training is necessary so that they can develop their skills and come to believe in themselves.
Many boys and girls have never learned to read or write, because they had to help with the family chores or were needed to work on the fields or herding the goats. And if they did go to school, they often dropped out of school for the same reasons. In Mali if you fall into the category "unskilled" or "dropouts", you have no prospects for there is no "second-chance-education. Therefore, these young people have nothing. No work, no money, no (technical) skills. These skills we will teach them. Unemployment among young people is very high due to lack of training. By training and teaching them a trade, which is in strong demand in the region, they will have prospects for the future and they can give the local economy a boost.
Who are we?
The idea for the foundation came on one of my trips to Mali.
My name is Janka de Vries and I visited Mali for the first time in 2004. It was not just that one trip, because I was touched by Mali, the country, the vibrancy, the colors, the hospitality, the people, their self-esteem and especially their almost indestructible optimism, even in the most difficult circumstances.
Mohamed ag Hamid asked me whether it would be possible to build a Vocational Training Centre in Timbuktu. Mohamed is the President of the "Association Taflist", an association that is committed to the training of disadvantaged young people in Timbuktu. Taflist comes from the Tamasheq, the language spoken by the Tuareg. It means promise, agreement, contract and commitment.
After the Association Taflist was approved by the Malian state, we decided to cooperate and in June 2011 the Foundation Walanta was founded in the Netherlands. Mohamed ag Hamid is our contact person and project manager in Timbuktu. By profession he is a silversmith and he teaches youngsters in his studio.
What do we want?
A durable and high quality vocational education for disadvantaged and excluded young people. This vocational training will teach them new techniques with modern material, combined with techniques and skills from their own culture and traditions. That bond with their cultural identity they must not lose, because that is the basis of their existence.
Taking into account their abilities and talents the youth will get the theory and the practice in the profession of their choice. What kind of professions and skills?
- Construction Worker (bricklayer, carpenter, electrician)
- Forging (tools for agriculture and arable) and silversmiths
- Metalworker, car and motorcycle maintenance.
- Leather Craft (for saddles, shoes, bags, pillows)
- Tailor, sewing techniques and fabrics, weaving (for clothing, linens, wall hangings, etc.)
In addition, students have to attend to classes in reading, writing, arithmetic, bookkeeping, setting up a small business, computer, French, English, personal and social skills.
In Timbuktu, that is located in the southern tip of the Sahara in northern Mali and there live about 55,000 people.
The Vocational Training Center will be in the district Abaradjou, the most populous district of the city with about 7900 inhabitant, of which some 2,500 young people between the ages of 15-29 years. For whom?
For girls and boys - in the age of 14-23 years.
Young people who hardly have been able to go to school, but, like all others, dreams of a better future. Dreams of having a job or a business. For this group to become self-employed and entrepreneurs, it is important to educate and train their parents too; for thems there will be literacy courses and courses that are of importance in the field of education, health, agriculture techniques, etc.. By giving parents the opportunity to develop themselves to be independent and result oriented, they will not feel subordinated towards their children.
For girls and boys - in the age of 14-23 years.
Young people who hardly have been able to go to school, but, like all others, dream of a better future. Dreams of having a job or a business. For this group to become self-employed and entrepreneurs, it is important to educate and train their parents too; for thems there will be literacy courses and courses that are of importance in the field of education, health, agriculture techniques, etc.. By giving parents the opportunity to develop themselves to be independent and result oriented, they will not feel subordinated towards their children.
- To teach girls and women that they are entitled to equal opportunities and that they themselves must ensure to get those opportunities (without forcing our Western values on them)
- To offer all young people the opportunity to achieve their goals, to develop their skills and talents and give them confidence in their own abilities
- To convince them that they do matter and stimulate their ambition
- To ensure that they are independent and self-reliant
IN SHORT: - To make them understand that they have control over their lives, their work and their future and that they themselves are "the architect" of their lives
Especially by not prescribing the people in Timbuktu what they should do.
We absolutely do not believe in the old-fashioned view that the payer is the determiner.
Walanta is convinced that the locals know best what to do.
They know exactly what they want, they know the situation there, they know the values, speak the language, have the contacts, connections and networks.
They take note of what is needed and develop the plans, proposals and ideas. And how they think to sustain and maintain. They should ensure the continuity and sustainability.
Their input and their actual practical involvement provides the best project results.
We consult and support, determine whether their plans can be performed financially and then provide the fundraising and promotion.
Does that work?
Yes, that works:
Because Walanta has the confidence in the people of Timbuktu and trust they will carry out the project and because we are convinced that they can. If there is no trust, giving aid is ineffective and insignificant. The project is small and the money goes directly to the people. And because it is a sustainable project, it will improve the living and working conditions The people need to help build, maintain and be responsible for the Center; they have to take decisions collectively, taking into account their traditions, customs, norms and values. They must ensure that the Centre continues to exist in the future without (too much help from) us.
Obviously, both Walanta and Taflist will be accountable for spending the money and the progress of the project. At least once a year, one of the board members will visit Mali (at own expense) to check the progress of the project .
The project is created and is run by locals. They are helping with the construction of the Centre. It is built with bricks of cement, the traditional way of building with stones of clay is cheaper, but requires a lot of maintenance and the risk of collapse is high.
There are three classes with doors and windows of metal. Then 2 workshops are needed; which will be half open, roofed spaces. And 6 latrines- 3 for boys and 3 for girls.
There is an office for the director, that also acts as the materials warehouse.
The school cannot act without a guard and therefore a small guard house has to be build.
The costs for the purchase of the land of 400 m² is € 8.000 and the enclosure (including iron door) costs € 7,000. The cost for one classroom is around 7,000 € and a practice class costs € 6,000. Add to this the cost of the interior, the teaching materials, salaries, solar panels etc. Because the provison of electricity is not stable, it will be used thrifty. It will be better to install and use solar panels.
The school furniture is locally manufactured. The machines and tools will be purchased in Mali (in order to keep down transport costs). The teaching materials will be purchased or made.
The classrooms will be used intensively. Not only during the day but also at night. Then there are literacy courses, courses in the areas of health, hygiene, cooking or small household repairs. Also, lessons and information in the field of agriculture, animal husbandry etc. Or French and English, accounting, engineering, computer etc. actually about anything that is requested by the population. This way everyone can benefit from the Center, that should become a multifunctional training and social meeting place.
- Become a volunteer and help us (organize) activities and events
- Donate once or regularly
Every donation is welcome and you can transfer the money to the account of Stichting Walanta, Rotterdam
-- Talk about us to your friends, family and collegues, on Facebook or start a Crowdfunding project
- Action at school: collect empty bottles, sports, baking and selling of cookies; crafting and selling of greeting cards , a garage sale, make bracelets or necklaces to sell, polish the shoes of teachers or sponsor the teachers running several laps around the schoolyard
- Ask for a contribution for Walanta instead of a present for your birthday, wedding or anniversary
- Hit us with good ideas or good tips to raise money