First, I would like to wish you and your family a healthy, happy and inspirational 2015. When I started Caravan to Class, I did so simply out of the idea of building a school in a village I visited in Tedeini, near Timbuktu, after a very special 50th birthday trip to Timbuktu. At that time, I had no idea that trip would lead to a journey that has now lasted five years. During that time, with the support of important donors like you, Caravan to Class has built five schools, six blocks of latrines, drilled three wells and supported the education of over 1,000 children annually (paying teachers’ salaries, providing food and books/school supplies). As importantly, we are bringing hope to a deserving population at a time and in a place that needs a little hope. I keenly realize that there are so many needs around the world, many much closer to home, even in the US. However, seeing the hope brought by Caravan to Class’ work in literacy on behalf of the wonderful children of Timbuktu is what keeps us on track and has compelled me to keep moving Caravan to Class forward.
I want to thank you so much for all of your support in 2014. As a result of your support we were able to build a new school in the village of Tombouz and rehabilitate a school in the village of Tourari. In addition, with our network partner NGO, Arche Nova (funded by the German Government), we were able to build latrines in all of the schools where Caravan to Class supports education (by the way, see separate note on success of Mali in dealing with Ebola…a lot of that work was done by our Bamako-based partner NGO, Arche Nova). We were also able to drill a well on the school grounds of the village of Tourari. I have seen for myself, last April 2014, the school under construction in Tombouz and the well being drilled in Tourari. For such a relatively modest amount of money and work, we are giving so many deserving children the hope that literacy and education brings. To see this in action is something special.
Caravan to Class’ aim is to build one school per year (two if funding exceeds our target, such that we can maintain a conservative reserve) and support all the schools’ operations for a period of at least 3 years. I hope that the villages, where we have built schools, will over time be able to support their own schools. However, I have clearly seen the challenges the villages face simply providing daily food for their families. With Caravan to Class’ main goal being getting and keeping the children of villages around Timbuktu in school, we will only contemplate asking the villages to fully fund their schools when we feel they are able.
Again, I realize that there are so many compelling needs around the world. I am very grateful that you have chosen Caravan to Class as one of the important needs you support. We are a very small all-volunteer charitable organization with a very focused mission (both place and area of need). We seek to operate as efficiently as possible in carefully selected villages with our school projects. Your support has been instrumental in all that we have done and, on behalf of so many wonderful children, I thank you and again wish you a great 2015.
Barry Hoffner, Founder and Executive Director, Caravan to Class