Building a Magic Future in Mali with buildOn

Stefan Wissenbach

Mali is the 5th poorest country in the world, according to the United Nation’s Human Development Index, and has a 31.1 percent literacy rate – among the lowest of any nation worldwide. With buildOn, the Magic Future Foundation has built two primary schools with adult education programs in two of the most rural regions of Mali.

The locals gathering to sign the covenant for the school in Malawi.

The locals gathering to sign the covenant for the school in Malawi.

Think of the impact literacy and education can make. Words are the pathways we use to extend beyond our physical locations and engage with the larger world. When you give the power of words to children in rural Mali, they are suddenly connected to possible futures they never could have dreamed of before (many would say ‘magic’ futures!). Through education, we have the power to affect the future of entire communities by giving them not just the tools to lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty, but the awareness that such transformation is possible.

The signed covenant and the Magic Future team's signatures (and thumb prints).

The signed covenant and the Magic Future team’s signatures (and thumb prints)

Change doesn’t begin and end with the children of Mali. The Magic Future Foundation has also funded adult literacy programs at each school we’ve built in both Mali and Malawi. buildOn’s unique approach to adult education begins by asking each community to tell them what they would like to learn. Then buildOn works with villagers to create a strategic action plan for progress, including teaching adults to read, write, and do basic math through the lens of relevant life skills – especially income-generating activities like dry-season gardening, animal husbandry and textile production. And, of all the participants in buildOn’s adult literacy programs, 70 percent have been women.

But, the best part about buildOn is that these changes are sustainable. The instructors of their primary and secondary schools come from each country’s own government, and the teachers for adult education programs are people from the communities who are educated and trained by buildOn.

buildOn doesn’t come to communities to change them – buildOn helps communities change themselves. Now that is a real Magic Future.

To learn more about the Foundation or donate directly, email us at


The Dream Achiever Competition

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The Magic Future Foundation

The Magic Future Foundation