Papa Noel

Ho ho ho!  Papa Noel came to the Jigeseme School in Sabalybougou this week!  Yves was the best Papa Noel ever, complete with candy cane tracksuit and belly like a bowl full of jelly!  The little ones were singing, happy and enjoying their gifts.  The I4A girls troupe performed for their entire school and they were excellent!  It was an awesome day!  Happy Holidays!

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Joy to the World

It’s that time of year for charitable giving.  We are proud to say that 100% of your donations go directly to the girls’ education programs at Instruments 4 Africa.  As per Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, “…money goes farther in the developing world…the most cost effective interventions are often at the grassroots level.”  While many of the big organizations spend a chunk of their donations on big fundraising campaigns, we at instruments4africa keep administrative costs to a bare minimum.  The small group of us who run the organization do it on a strictly volunteer basis.  This is why we can apply 100% of your donation directly to those in need.

Small donations add up and make a big difference in these young girls’ lives.  Thank you, we could not do it without your support.  I continue to be inspired by the girls…their potential and progress.  You are giving them a chance to create a different future for themselves, their families and their community.  Again, to quote Nicholas Kristof, “Building self-reliance and empowering people to fix their own problems is key.”  We agree, we aim to do this and we are true believers in the possibility.

I am also inspired by those who reach out and give from their hearts.  Like the two volunteer teachers, Claire and Yves, that are here from Canada, giving their energy to help the girls catch up in reading.  They are angels!  All of you out there who bought dresses and bags this summer, thank you!  We are still running on those funds, but we need more for the next trimester of schooling.  As always, your donations are tax-deductible.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!  Join us in providing opportunities, you’ll be happy you did!  Wishing you much joy and inspiration this holiday season!

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Krewe School House

Thanks to the donations from Toubab Krewe and Craiggie Brewing in Asheville, NC, construction is underway on the Krewe School House  in Bamako, Mali, West Africa.  The community is delighted and grateful…as are we at Instruments4Africa.  Thank you, Toubab Krewe and Craiggie!!  Brick by brick…Stay posted.

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I4A Dance Troupe Block Party

To celebrate the efforts and work of the girls’ dance troupe and their director, Lassina Kone, we threw a Saturday-before-school starts block party. The I4A dance troupe performed to a lively and happy crowd, including most of their siblings and parents. We are very proud of them. School begins on Monday, but they have been hitting the books this summer and tutoring sessions at the American School started in September. We are hopeful the younger girls will be reading by the end of the year. Thank you for your support!  Please click below to donate safely and quickly through paypal.  We are fundraising for tutoring and tuition for 2 new students.

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Toubab Krewe School House Project

One of our favorite bands, Toubab Krewe, is donating between fifty cents and one dollar on every ticket sold to Instruments 4 Africa, 501c-3. These donations will specifically go to build a music school in the Bamako, Mali area. The school will be headed by their teacher, Lamine Soumano.

Toubab Krewe, the vibrant Asheville, NC-based instrumental powerhouse, creates a sonic Pangaea that swirls together rock, African traditions, jam sensibilities, international folk strains and more. Toubab Krewe’s music carries echoes of African greats like Ali Farka Toure, Orchestra Baobab and Salif Keita, picked up during the group’s many visits to the Mother Continent to study and live in Guinea, Ivory Coast and Mali. We can’t wait to see you in Mali again!

Big thanks to the members of Toubab Krewe for supporting the arts in Mali and the education of young Malian people!

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Lassina Kone- Graduate of Ecole des Sables

Congratulations to Lassina Kone (Lassi), our Instruments 4 Africa Dance Director. He recently graduated from the Ecole des Sables, International Training Centre for Traditional and Contemporary African Dances, in Toubab-Dialaw, Senegal. Because of his dedication to the art of traditional dance and the I4A dance troupe, Lassi was awarded a scholarship and with a hand from I4A and other donations, he was able to journey to Senegal to complete the the 3 month professional dance teacher certification training. Like Instruments 4 Africa, L’ecole des Sables in an International Laboratory. It is a place of cultural and artistic exchanges, of meetings between the continent of Africa and the rest of the world.

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Summer Fundraising

School’s out for summer and this is our time to connect with friends & family and fundraise in the USA. This year we made practical and beautiful tote bags from 100% cotton, African batik prints. With a donation, you receive a great bag and feel good about supporting the education and mentoring of the 12 girls in our program. Robin and Cathy hosted an awesome group of women in San Francisco and raised $500. Thank you, Robin and Cathy!

Sharrie Williams is fundraising through her website,, where you can pick up the #1 beach read, The Maybelline Story, along with a great beach bag. Than you, Sharrie!

I will be at Bikram Yoga Dallas for a fundraiser on Saturday, July 2. Thank you, Karen & David! Come by for a class and pick up your summer tote. The profits go to pay for school tuition, supplies and traditional arts training for the I4A girls. If you can’t make it contact me at to get your limited edition tote!

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The I4A girls are receiving hatha yoga and meditation training.

“Greatness is not what you have, it is what you give.” I don’t think this means gifts, or money or even time. I think it means presence…your full attention to the person you are with or the activity you are doing and even with yourself.

How many times have we gone through the motions of life on ‘automatic pilot’? This is the opposite of greatness. Our greatness is giving of ourselves… illuminating the moment with our full attention shifts reality. I’m not talking about some trip into outer limits. I mean next time you are spending time with someone, let go of expectations and be in the moment, notice your breath and heartbeat. Allow the moment to unfold without having ‘to do or change’ anything and see what happens.

I have been taking a mindfulness training for the last 2 months, so these messages are part of my daily diet. What I realized this morning, and why I am reaching out today, is that there is an abundant source of energy that is available to all of us if we so choose. We don’t have to rush to get our share, or hide it once we find it, or hold on tight in fear of losing it. There is enough, in fact plenty, for everyone. This is the tricky part…once you experience it, to keep it, you have to let it go. It is a constant flow of energy….flowing, moving, evolving in every moment.

We have the endurance to say ‘yes’ and mean it. We show up fully and listen. We do not feel the need to be protective of our time and energy coming from a place of scarcity. We sense the limitless quality of the moment and as we widen our perspective, new ideas, solutions and understanding enters our minds. And our hearts open too. We are loving and compassionate to all, not just those to whom we are attached.

I am grateful to the I4A girls and the opportunity they provide for me to share yoga and meditation. I think I was underestimating them by not offering them the meditation, mindfulness training until now. Maybe I was underestimating myself. This organization is about realizing our full potential, the children, the volunteers, me, all of us. Meditation can assist us in getting there.

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Empowering others

is the fuel for an inspired life. Witnessing another human being overcome an obstacle and grow beyond what they imagined, shifts our perception of what is possible. We all transform in the process. Win-win.

As I am doing our taxes and going over the year’s receipts, I am reminded of the people who reached out and in that moment of generosity, changed the lives of 12 Malian girls.

In Mali, women are still considered inferior to men. This viewpoint is not only cultural, but supported by the state. Under family law, women are required to be obedient to their husbands. According to Brahim Koné, president of the Malian Association of Human Rights, the position and treatment of women is one of the biggest human rights abuses in Mali today.

The legal age for women to marry is 15 and many girls are being promised to marriage at the age of 13. Four of the girls in the Instruments 4 Africa program will turn 14 this year. Being part of a group focused on education, empowers them to believe in their abilities and make wise choices. They are among the 33% of Malian women who can read or write.

Through education, mentoring and traditional arts training, the I4A girls are realizing their potential.

2010 was a year to:
-get to go to school everyday
-own a new school uniform
-learn to read
-train in traditional dance, music and theater
-be able to go to the doctor and get medication
-sleep under a mosquito net
-make friends from other cultures
-know my rights as a woman
-build confidence
-reach out to others
-believe change is possible
-realize we are all human and equal
-believe in miracles

Thank you to all the generous friends and supporters, like Toubab Krewe, who make the I4A program possible. I want to shout out to the American International School of Bamako & the director, David Henry. Their support this last year has been phenomenal. Between the school-to-school tutoring program, headed by Robin Pascucci, and the walk-a-thon donations spearheaded by Calley Connelly & Abdel Yatarra it has been a successful year. The girls could not have made the progress they did without your support. Thank you!

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Nana, hope for the future, strength from the past


This is Nana. She is 10 years old and she lives at the Togola Community Center in Bamako, Mali. Like many children her age, she needs to build confidence in her abilities as she moves into the upper elementary grades. Like many other children in Mali, she needs your love and support to have access to an education and emergency medical care.

Thanks to your generous donations, Nana is proud to be a 4th grader in the Jigiseme School in Sabalybougou. She says Monday is her favorite day of the week because she gets to go to school. She loves reading and dreams of being a doctor so she can “help sick people”.

A $20 monthly donation will pay for school tuition, traditional arts training and medical care for Nana. The Instruments 4 Africa program provides the tuition for a modern education in reading, writing, math & science, as well as traditional arts training in music, dance and theater. Nana’s education gives her hope for the future and her arts training draws strength from the past. If you would like to help Nana stay in school and be able to receive emergency medical care please click here to donate via facebook or contact me at

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