These resources will be updated as we have more ideas and success stories to share!

Sister Schools Program

Elementary Schools: Through the Sister Schools program, a Utah elementary school is connected with an elementary school in Mali for a long-term partnership. As of 2021, we actively partner with 12 elementary schools in commune of Ouelessebougou:

  1. Kaban
  2. Bamakoni
  3. Fadiobougou
  4. Tamala
  5. Famana
  6. Bassa
  7. Neneko
  8. Djemene
  9. Soumaya
  10. Dialakoro-Keleya (DK)
  11. Solo
  12. Sena

Throughout the school year, Utah students will have the opportunity to learn about, connect with, and serve their friends across the world. 

  • Art exchanges. Utah students will have the opportunity to create art projects such as colorful hearts, cards, or drawings of their life at home to send to Mali. Students in Mali will do the same and send their art back to Utah. Because of a language barrier, this non-traditional pen pal approach allows Utah students to get a glimpse of the Malian lifestyle and make new friends. They will understand more about what is unique about life in Mali (like their home, classrooms, chores, and even their way of drawing) and how much they have in common (such as family, friends, games, dolls, and soccer).
  • Education events. Through bulletin board displays, Malian guest speakers, cultural show and tell, Question and Answer sessions, “Day in the Life” activities, and “Hunger Banquet” events, Utah children will learn about what it is like to live in Mali. They may have the opportunity to try a common Malian food (millet), stand under a mosquito net (which many Malians sleep under to prevent malaria), practice carrying pails of water, play soccer (a favorite Malian past time), and learn about traditional African song and dance. Students can even participate in a “Hunger Banquet” where students come to a special night and are randomly assigned to an income bracket based on real world ratios. The poorest 70 % of the world will be invited to eat rice on blankets on the floor while wealthier percentages dine at a table in a physical display of income inequality. The cost of dinner tickets are donated to Malian villages who are among the poorest in the world. Our goal is to help Utah children discover and appreciate the unique ways people live all around the world.
  • Making a difference. Part of the process of educating Utah children about life in Mali will be helping them understand some of the unique and intense challenges experienced by people living in developing cultures. Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world and many people in Ouelessebougou live without access to clean water, education supplies, or vaccines that could save lives. Elementary students will have the opportunity to have a fundraiser week in which students can bring in donations toward one of the villages greatest needs at the time, such as water wells, vaccines, or mosquito nets. In the past, our fundraising weeks have brought in hundreds to thousands of dollars. Students get to see first hand how even one young child can make a difference for another child living on the other side of the world.

2021 – 2022 Active School Partnerships (these are all schools who have been committed for more than one year):

  • Brookwood Elementary + Famana
  • Crestview Elementary/Olympus + Tamala

Engagement Materials & Activities

  • Bulletin Board materials for schools to print and use (Malian phrases, weather patterns, stories about children in Mali, drawings, map, pictures)
  • Art exchange ideas (banners with drawings from students, quadrant drawings on a folded paper, greeting cards, pen pal exchange)
  • Education day ideas (Day in the Life rotations, education, chores, sports, dance, grio tradition, classroom actives with mixed ages, language. 
  • Annual fundraiser ideas (raise money for your choice of projects—mosquito nets, vaccines, water wells, etc.  – must be approved by Ouelessebougou Alliance). Class competitions to see who raises the most money.
  • Hunger banquet (an invitation to everyone in the school to come for a dinner where people are randomly assigned different positions of wealth that fit with the world ratios. The poorest will sit on the floor and eat rice. The wealthy few will get a nice dinner at a table. The point is to help people see how the wealth distribution actually works in the world.
  • OA PowerPoint presentation with information, images and video 
  • Opportunity for in-person presentations by a Youth Ambassador or OA staff member/volunteer
  • Use of OA Education Trunk and Discover Ouelessebougou curriculum for classroom learning

Single School or Youth Activities

These resources are focused more for schools, homeschooling, community groups or youth groups that are not initially looking for a long-term partnership, but these activities are starting from a desire to do a one-time project or fundraiser. Many of our schools and community groups fall into this category. These projects may be organized by students, parents, teachers, or church leaders. The OA staff will assign a school, or even a village without a school, on a case-by-case basis depending on the need or the project. Our hope would be that the experience is meaningful and will turn into a longer partnership, whether it’s a formal sister school partnership or just a recurring connection. Youth groups can participate in cultural engagement activities, education presentations, or fundraising opportunities.

Cultural Engagement & Education:

  • Sharing artwork – what is life like for you in Utah?
  • Discover Ouelessebougou learning curriculum and activities
  • Assembly or school presentation about Ouelessebougou 
  • Zoom or in-person presentation by Youth Ambassadors
  • Host a “Day in Mali” learning activity
  • Get to know the teachers in your sister-school
  • Create a game, flashcards or book for students
  • Hold an assembly to learn more about life in Mali
  • Celebrate a Malian holiday with dance, music and food
  • Learn about Malian music, art and dance in arts class
  • Invite a guest speaker from Mali to teach about life in Ouelessebougou
  • Exchange videos from your classroom to one in your sister-school
  • Sample a tradition Malian food dish, such as millet

Fundraising Activities (in class/person):

  • Minute for Mali – hold a penny fund drive where students bring in change and see how much they can raise in one-minute
  • Be the Change – collect coins in large water bottles in each classroom for one month. Classes can compete for a pizza party or other prize!
  • Bite BACK at Malaria – host a Halloween fundraiser: admission for a haunted house, bake sale, purchase and sell vampire teeth to raise money for mosquito nets and malaria control
  • Malaria Madness – host a basketball themed fundraiser in March: teacher/student basketball tournament, proceeds from a school game go to the Alliance

Fundraising Activities (remote/virtual):

  • Read-A-Thon – have students find contributors who pledge money for every page they read to raise money for text-books and school supplies at their sister school
  • Vaccinations for Valentine’s – host a fundraiser on Valentine’s Day to raise money for vaccinations ($5 vaccinates a child). Make and sell Valentine’s treats, roses or Valentine’s cards to sell and deliver
  • Crowdfund a Classroom – create an online crowdfunding website to raise money for new classrooms in Djemene
  • Peer-to-Peer Fundraising – launch a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign online where students can form teams and compete for who raises the most money
  • Virtual Bake Sale – host your sale online where student groups can still participate in bake sales while social distancing. Groups can make baked goods, sell them online and conduct local drop-offs
  • “Chip” In Shop – set up a shop during lunch time where students can purchase chips to “chip” in to support your fundraising efforts
  • Virtual 5K – host a school wide 5K where registration costs go directly to your fundraising cause. Get local businesses to donate prizes for the winners
  • Instagram Fundraiser – create and share a fundraiser on your Instagram story for an OA project your passionate about
  • Facebook Birthday Fundraiser – celebrate your birthday by asking for donations on a Facebook Birthday fundraiser for Ouelessebougou Alliance

Success Stories

"Our students love the cultural exchange activities and annual fundraiser. They get a vision of a broader world and realize that different parts of the world don’t look like East Sandy. They have confidence that even by donating five dollars during a one-week fundraiser they can make a difference. By working as a group, they’re helping save lives and that gives them perspective that even small acts of kindess will impact others every day.”
Mariah Christensen
Brookwood PTA Volunteer
  • Brookwood Elementary School in Sandy has been an amazing partner with the Alliance for several years. Their support has been on a larger scale and they have been the big contributors to the vaccination program. Their sister school is Famana. They having engaged Organizers who take the reins on the project. Brookwood parents Heidi Poelman and Mariah Christensen will connect with the OA staff and ask what projects need funding, then together they will discuss ideas for an annual fundraiser that Heidi and Mariah take to the school. They will also discuss cultural engagement and service-learning ideas with OA, but ultimately they are the ones that get the school involved and facilitate the event. OA plays a supportive role.
  • Redeemer Lutheran School was interested in not only doing a fundraiser for the Alliance, but also connecting their students and teaching them more about Mali. They invited Field Director, Anounou Sissoko, to come to their school and talk about life in Ouelessebougou. As part of their activity, they created “pen pal pictures” for Anounou to take back to the schools with him and share with the students.
  • Maren Walton was a 6th grader at Viewmont Elementary in Murray. She was part of the 6th Grade Student Council and they were assigned to find a fundraiser that year. She met with Judy Hut to talk about the Alliance and customize a week-long fundraiser for her school. She played a huge part in the organization of the project including coordinating an assembly for her school. Her group created a fundraiser where the students donated to a different Mali program every day for the week. The programs included vaccinations, mosquito nets, Days for Girls kits, gardening, and school supplies.

Become a Youth Ambassador

Elementary school students ages 10+ are invited to apply and participate. The program allows students to develop leadership skills and broaden the impact of their service by connecting and inspiring others.